The passage of time

The passage of time can be a blessing, or it can be a curse. In most cases, it depends on my point of view. I can make an argument for almost any position. But as the years pass me by, perhaps because I no longer harbor the confidence of my youth thinking life is everlasting, I find the passage of time, my friend. I have learned a patience I did not possess in my younger days. It’s not that I don’t still manage to make my way to impatience, but it’s easier to let go of the older I become. 

An unpleasant impatient thought these days gets met with that inner voice asking if I want to waste time angry and frustrated, or whether there might be something more important or positive I could be putting my energy toward. And the fantastic thing is that there always is something better to think about. My inner drama just seems to slip away without much effort. I find myself able to take a bird’s eye view of myself (wow, I didn’t realize I was quite so short). 

I am content for what the universe shares with me daily, and I’m thankful for the passage of time, otherwise known as my life. Every morning as I awake next to the man who makes my days sweet, with the rest of my loved ones tucked in my heart, I try my best not to take the day for granted. 

Had I only had the benefit of this peacefulness in my youth… aww, but I would have missed out on so much drama. And let’s face it, drama has its place in life. I believe it’s how we learn some of our most important lessons.

But as I enter a new phase of my life, I seem to have lost my grip on drama somewhat like Rose and Jack on the bridge of the Titanic, minus the emotion. Quietly, peacefully, and ever so gently, I have released my grasp, and the freedom is intoxicating. It leaves room for new people and senior adventures (they are a bit different than in my youth) but just as rewarding. I have time to stop and watch tiny brilliant blue dragonflies on the edge of the pool as I swim my laps, and nurture my sweet nieces when I’m blessed to spend time with them. I can finally leisurely enjoy time with my adult children soaking in the amazing people I had the great fortune to bring into the world.

And I feel content to take my time publishing my upcoming book (even though it will arrive in the spring of 2020 as opposed to 2019.) But as I told my editor last week, the journey is in many cases more rewarding than the destination. I have enjoyed every minute of writing this book, and I plan to enjoy every minute of publishing it. I do not need to rush it. The fact is, I’d rather not.

I’ll need to have my artist replace a few numbers on my advertising material, just changing the Spring of 2019 to 2020, another passage of time which I will count my lucky stars for.

In the meantime, I will enjoy the upcoming months, the blessing of another season, time to blog and enjoy the approaching holidays, the joy of fall and the welcome of winter on its heels.

Endless… blessings… endless… second chances…

What’s really important–part two



Last year about this time, I wrote a post entitled “What’s Really Important.” That post has been repurposed in my upcoming book “Lessons of a Wayward Yogini,” due out this spring? I’ve been known to run a bit late in life. My next post will address my book delay, but for now, I will rope in my ADD and stick to what’s important! This post is What’s Important—Part Two, with new lessons learned. (I’m feeling a bit dizzy from the circles I’m spinning here.)

A year ago I came home to a smoke plume close to the house which looked awful close, but as it turned out, it was far enough away, and our beloved first responders and firefighters were able to keep us from harm.

This Wednesday as I began to travel down through the canyon on my way home from Auburn, I could see a fire off in the distance. It’s so challenging to place a smoke plume on the horizon in terms of its location. I did think to myself though, that looks like it might be in Cool. My heart sank, and I stepped on the gas a bit harder, loving my little Audi taking turns with ease down to the river. Crossing the bridge, I snaked up through the hills. Some twists would offer no glimpse of the smoke, and a few turns later, I would see it again, more significant and closer, and yes, still looking like it was in Cool.

We live in an area called the Trails, a homeowner’s association. There are three gates into the trails. Typically, I don’t like to go through gate 1, the only entrance with a guard, because it’s still another eight miles once through the gate to our house. The association is strict with the 25 mph speed limit, and recently they purchased a portable speed camera that they position at different locations throughout the trails. The homeowners at first, were completely up in arms when they began receiving tickets because of this device. They nicknamed it Waldo, and people now send out messages in the Nextdoor.com asking where Waldo is on any particular day. It seems it would be so much easier just to drive the speed limit. But then again, the speed limit is the reason I like gate 3, which leaves me only a few blocks to drive to my house, as opposed to eight miles.

When I finally arrived at the top of the hill at our only stop sign in Cool, I made the left heading down to the Trails. I could see then that this fire was directly in line with our home, still guessing, but becoming extremely concerned. I could see Highway 193, a two-lane road, was in complete chaos with cars stopped ahead of me and fire engines and ambulances traveling behind me, so I entered at gate 1 to make my way home. If any day was hard to observe the speed limit, this was it. I thought to myself, maybe they wouldn’t enforce a ticket under such circumstances. But that’s just the kind of thinking that wreaks more havoc, so I kept it slow.

Again, the twists and turns of the tiny road leading to my house would only offer me sporadic views. But by the time I was within a mile of home, I knew for a fact that this fire was extremely close to all that I call dear (apart from loved ones.) I was literally holding my breath as I finally rounded the last bend that would allow me to see the corner of our cul-de-sac. The tears streamed down my face when I could finally see our home intact.

With that said, the corner half a block up the road was completely filled with smoke and black smoke at that. Knowing our house was safe for the moment, I continued driving on to see how close the fire actually was. My answer was about a mile at the most, in an extremely wooded residential area. Not good. I had seen a large number of cars and horse trailers (we live in a large horse community) passing me on my way in, each of them on their way out. By the time I returned home, many streets close to us had been ordered to evacuate, but our cul-de-sac was still okay.

I watched our neighbors trying desperately to load their panicked horses into their trailer. That alone was upsetting as one of the horses was spooked and not cooperating. Man, those are big animals.

I returned home and tried to calm myself. My mantra became, “It’s calm out, no wind, thank you, God.” Just last week my umbrellas on the deck kept blowing over with the gusts of wind, what a difference a day or seven can make. I tried to concentrate on work, but couldn’t, so I kept making my way up the hill to see how things were going, returning home to pace. About an hour later, I saw a sheriff’s car driving down our driveway. I knew the verdict before we spoke. It was time to evacuate.

He assured me I wasn’t in immediate danger, but the decision had been made that we should evacuate. He also mentioned that if the winds picked up, it wasn’t going to be pretty. I already knew that.

I went back inside, made a few calls to Rick and our neighbors who I knew were not home, and summoned my memory for that list I made a year ago when I wrote that blog about what’s important. Our minds are incredible, really… my list was there just waiting.

I had been lucky enough this day to catch a yoga class at lunch, and perhaps it was that energy still flowing through my body, but I moved through the house in short order with a strong but peaceful strength grabbing important things, passports, lockbox, all things banking… and then I started on the things that are most important to me. Rick’s wedding ring which he most days does not wear to work as it’s too big and has been known to fall off when he’s working with his hands, our artwork, two small frames with pictures of me as a baby with my parents, a plate of my fathers with a tiny violin, a number of other framed pics of Rick and I and the kids, our recipe books (between us we have three) and a few of our pigs. We collect pigs. Since we have a fair amount of artwork, that took some time. But when my car could hold no more, I put my sweet kitty in her travel bag and considered myself packed.

The list turned out to be precisely what I envisioned a year ago, with a few new items. I hadn’t thought of the recipe books before, nor my jam pot which hangs on the wall in our kitchen, a treasure left to me from one of my dearest friends, Julie. My car was packed with memories of a life filled with love, and that would be enough to begin building a new home if that was my fate.

As I stood on my porch not knowing if it might be my last time, I again let myself cry. I actually had packed without crying, which for me is saying a lot. I looked around at all my beloved plants and trees and flowers and said a silent prayer that our creation would still be here when I next returned. I climbed in my car, thankful for the hour I had to plan and pack. Some people had only five minutes. And I headed back over the hill to Auburn to meet Rick and my son for dinner. My quiet mantra remained a constant, “it is not windy out.”

A lifetime seemed to pass in an afternoon; just a few short hours later, we drove back over the same canyon, not even knowing if we would be allowed home. But we had heard that the firefighters had done a great job of stopping the forward progress of the fire and that the trails were out of danger. They had stopped the air attack, which was a great sign. We decided to try our luck and return home.

As I drove over the same road I had so anxiously traveled over that afternoon, with new adrenaline flowing through my body which was filled with complete gratitude, I began to put together a new list of what’s really important, with a fresh perspective from the benefit of this experience.

Seeing the numerous emergency vehicles passing me by on their way out of the canyon, their hard work done for this day, Cal Fire, Sheriffs, Highway Patrol, all of the first responding angels, my heart went out to each of them. Such reliable people who put themselves in harm’s way to help others, not to mention the mental toll it takes to witness the sadness and devastation of their victims, day in and day out, what would we do without them?

My mood was lifting with each emergency vehicle passing by me, which left me open to experience more of the important things. Gate 1 was the only way home this night as the fire was on both sides of Highway 193 leading to gate 3; the fire had actually jumped the highway. As I drove through Gate 1, I waived at our guard with such gratitude in my heart for him, and even for that damn gate. I felt like I was floating. I welcomed the eight-mile drive… how quickly that slow-moving 25 mph ride had turned into a blessing.

A way down the road I was delighted to see the horses in their pastures again. A cat was lying in the grass unaware of our human drama, just waiting and surveying her little domain. A mile or so from home, exchanging a greeting with the highway patrolman waving us through telling us we were free to return home. And lastly, driving down our long driveway back to our beloved home containing all the memories we’ve managed to create in five short years. Breathing in the trees and plants as I got out of the car, waiting right where I left them. 

And maybe the most beautiful part of the day was laying our heads down that evening on our own pillows… a blessing that most nights we take for granted. Not this night. As I let the thoughts of the day quiet down, which actually took hours, I also sifted through gratitude for our friends and loved ones who are always there to encourage us and lend a helping hand. I may, at times, feel fear and discomfort, but I never feel at a loss when it comes to the angels that surround us. They buoy me in times of trouble.

There are a lot of lists in life. I’ve been known to worry about some very insignificant and admittedly silly ones. The further along I get in this human race, I realize that the secret of life is about enjoying the simplest of things.



Apricot jam

Once a year if I’m lucky I settle down long enough to make apricot jam… not just any apricot jam, but my Julie’s jam. Losing our loved ones is probably one of the hardest lessons we have on earth. And while time has healed my broken heart enough to carry on, I can on any given day cry thinking of my dear friend. I wouldn’t even venture to change that. My way of thinking, tears are merely a measure of how much I enjoyed my friend. They come with the territory.
Julie made pretty much the best apricot jam around. And now, thanks to her, so do I. Her recipe, much like she lived her life, cuts no corners. She would spend three to four hours, stirring the apricots to cook them down. The whole process takes the better part of a day, and every minute spent is rewarded two-fold.
Jam day now feels like I’m spending the day with Julie. I reminisce with her all during the day. We watch a few good movies as I stir for hours. This year we watched a couple of cute Amazon Prime movies with Diane Keaton.
Julie left me her copper jam-making pot, so inevitably I send pictures to her sons to let them know it’s apricot jam day. And if I’m lucky, we end up laughing for an hour on the phone, just like I would have done with Julie had I been cooking with her. Life continues to delight me as it teaches me that the threads that weave throughout any family tapestry pass down through the generations.
I thank heaven for angels disguised as friends, for copper jam pots, for apricot trees and for children left to carry on such a beautiful legacy.

Empty Nest Syndrome

This spring has truly been a treat, after all the rains. My plants and trees have unabashedly flaunted their beauty at every turn.  And for the first time during our five years in Cool, we have successfully had birds nest in our two birdhouses, otherwise known as the Blue Mountain Villas.

In our first two years, the birds did nest, but predators turned the happy event into a sad massacre. A few years back Rick cleaned out the houses and put them on metal poles out in the back. The first spring after we worked on the houses, it was probably just too soon with too much of our human scent remaining on the houses. But this year, we had a sell-out, with both of the villas reserved for the spring, one with bluebirds and the other with swallows.

Having never really experienced living with birds in this way, I found myself falling madly in love with these little families. Once I could hear the chirping and knew for certain that little creatures did reside in our houses, it became a love affair. I spent a good deal of time each day watching out for the houses and their inhabitants, studying the parents in their endless efforts to feed their babies and warding off any predators, which many times included me. My constant vigilance caused them some discomfort, but in time they came to trust that I was not a threat. Toward the end, they would allow me to sit only yards away and enter the nest to feed their babies, what a gift.

For a few weeks, the parents would come and go with food, and all you could hear was chirping. But in the last week or ten days, the baby birds would actually show their faces in the hole of the bird house, waiting for their parents to bring their food. You could see their beaks open wide as the parent flew to the house to feed them.

But my favorite by far, was watching the baby bird in the opening waiting for the food, sometimes for five or ten minutes. I fell in love with that cute little face peaking out the hole and sometimes getting brave enough to venture even an inch more, taking in their surroundings, gaining the courage to one day fly the coup.

That day came two days ago. And I have to say, I feel so sad that I can’t stand on my deck to see that little face anymore. I wished so much that I had a camera that could capture the face from my deck like my binoculars could, but I didn’t. I will next year. But for this year, I will have to rely on my memory to remember those sweet little eyes.

This experience has lifted me and also saddened me temporarily. And it has taught me first hand the definition behind “empty nesters syndrome,” and where the term probably originated.

We have the capacity to connect with an infinite number of God’s creatures on this planet, such a blessing. We must always know that our days are numbered, and enjoy each one to the fullest, whether we are lovin’ a bird, a neighbor, a friend, a child, a parent, a spouse or significant other.

Here’s to my little swallows wherever they may be.

Spring

 

Having spent many years working in the landscaping business I have done a fair amount of thinking about the lessons I can learn from nature. Guidance is ever present just waiting for me to take notice, thank goodness she is patient with me. Most times I am moving at lightning speed not stopping long enough to pay close attention. And when I do, damn, I have to vow to myself to do it more often. This weekend I put aside everything but my garden. I spent both days playing in the dirt and enjoying spring in our tiny oasis. Treasures were everywhere, just waiting for my attention. Spring is an amazing time, reminding me of what is also awakening in my body after the long winter.

I came across a thought that I wanted to share. With my new book coming, “Lessons of a Wayward Yogini,” (I know, I have to plug it) I seem to be hyper sensitive to lessons these days.

In the first few months of moving to Cool four and a half years ago, one of my landscaping clients had a red maple tree in her yard that was not thriving. I had put it in a few years earlier, and no matter how much I coaxed that tree or how many fertilizers I applied, it just was not happy. I told my client I would swap it out and put another tree in its place. When we dug the tree out, I brought it to my new home. It was worth trying to save it.

This weekend as I stood beneath the same tree only a few years later, I admired its beauty and marveled at the growth. It is at least twice the size, if not three times. The tiny maple blossoms fluttered as the wind rustled through the tender spring leaves, putting on an incredible show. I took time to watch and study her dance.

I spent the remainder of the day thinking about the basic premise of this tree living in an environment that was not nourishing it, for whatever reasons. The tree simply was failing to survive, a slow progression, but one that in the end would have ended in the tree’s demise. These few years later in an environment that was providing what it needed, it had become a strong tree. And if she was a woman, I would just have to say she knows the power of her beauty and she flaunts it every time the breeze blows.

Across the garden a bit later in the day, I was still wondering, how different are we humans, really? If we spend too much time in an environment that isn’t nourishing our soul, we too begin to fade.

This maple tree serves as a reminder that with the proper nutrients and sunlight, enough water, and some tender loving care, it is possible to change and reverse a negative course.

I believe humans are no different.  It’s hard though to make major changes in our lives if we find we are not happy in a relationship or in our careers.  And with that said, it’s important to note that the tree went into major shock. You can’t dig up a plant and shove the root ball into a garbage bag, without the tree looking pretty grim for some time. Same could be said of humans. Any major life altering changes definitely put our systems into shock. But we too have the same recuperative powers as nature, maybe even more so. After the transplant, so to speak, our mind and body becomes strong again, and if we have moved on to a life that has the requirements we need, we then have the power to one day sway in the breeze as beautifully as my little maple tree.

Some might say the hardest part is knowing what will make you happy in life. I disagree. I think the hardest part is facing what isn’t making you happy and moving away from it, and accepting that for a while we will feel like we have dug up our roots and shoved them into a garbage bag. Life is nothing if not about our choices.

Spring

Before I begin, for my WordPress friends, I have had to transition to my own website for the book, so I hope you will begin to follow me at sueferrera.com. I’ll still be here for the better part of this year posting as well, but I’d hate to lose touch.

I’ve been giving spring a lot of thought the last few weeks, since my book, “Lessons of a Wayward Yogini” is scheduled to be released this spring. My editor, Dennis, www.5editorial.com gave me grief about not putting quotes around the title of my book in a recent post, so he will be thrilled that I’ve corrected this. And I might make major points since I’m also sharing his link. Even though I’m paying him as my editor/publisher, I’m trying everything in my power to encourage him to send along some of his BBQ. He seems to be a jack of all trades, or in this case, a Dennis of all trades, and I’ve heard he makes a pretty mean BBQ.

Back to spring… is there anything better than a bud on your plants as they awaken ever so slowly in early spring? I can’t help myself, I run out to my yard almost every day when the plants are filled with their tiny buds just to peak at them and marvel at their new growth that will in short order be something of delicate beauty. Against all odds, winters filled with freezing temperatures and snow at times, their tiny shoots nevertheless find their way from their dormant state to once again greet a new dawn, a new season.

I feel like a kid at Christmas, those buds are like presents wrapped under the tree. There is such a feeling of anticipation in the air, as well as such a sweet fragrance. It lifts me inches off the ground as I walk through my garden, if only in my mind. The scent definitely encourages a deep yogini breath, and brings a smile to my face and a contentment deep in my soul.

Spring to me, is the promise of rejuvenation, of another season, a second chance (or in some cases a third chance if we are speaking about the deer eating the plants in my yard for two seasons in a row, until we developed deer fencing 4.0.) And even the word spring, its synonyms are leap, jump, bound and vault… obviously a time of year with great potential for advancing all that needs advancing or healing.

I think we humans are no different, we need a new beginning every year or so, to rise up and bloom again. Our earth offers all that we need by way of nature and our fellow humans. It’s up to us to embrace the energy and support that surrounds us on any given day. Without that connection, it can be somewhat easy to feel alone, even when we are anything but.

I’m dedicating this post to a few of my friends who are a bit under the weather. If you have to be ill, I can’t think of a better time of the year to do it.

Here’s to spring… Namaste

United hearts

I’ve talked about our friends, Janet and Lalo before.  I like to refer to them as a couple of posers, angels trying to pass as humans.  They are simple people who love the earth and its inhabitants, are not extravagant, just kind caring people who do some pretty damn nice things for others … often.

Lalo has been creating mosaics for years.  Lalo spent his life teaching, and one of his early mosaics was for the school district he was teaching at in Fresno.  They still proudly display it today.  Over the years he has created more mosaics than he can probably count, for friends and loved ones.

In the last few years, Lalo was able to retire.  One might ask, what does a retired angel do with his time?  Well, the answer is, he does more mosaics, of course.  But what I love is that he’s branched out.  A  few years back he started creating amazingly beautiful mosaics for wineries, without being asked, or paid.  If Janet and Lalo enjoyed visiting a winery over time, he would just show up one day with this mosaic masterpiece that seriously, if the winery were to commission an artist to create anything even remotely as nice, would be extremely costly.

Instead of anyone asking or even understanding what he does, Lalo just moseys into the winery in his unassuming way, presenting the owner with his magnificent creation.  Really?  How many people would do that?  When we heard about one of his first ones, we came along for the unveiling.  I kept thinking to myself …  if I was the owner of this winery, I would be blown away.  Lucky day … jackpot.

That day, I decided that I wanted to do my part to create a buzz. I want his work to be known as “A Lalo Sanchez,”  but preferably before the artist dies.  I’ve been joking with him since, and told him one day I would post about him.  Of course, the mere mention makes him shake his head and look away with a giggle … you know those angels, they won’t take much credit.

I have been waiting for the right story, and last weekend my mind finally began the process of putting together this post.  Once again we were graced with a visit from Janet and Lalo.  Since it was so cold out (this angel doesn’t like the cold) we decided to do more inside work than outside, so Lalo brought along his current mosaic project, a surprise for an old friend who likes to race.  We set up camp on our kitchen table, each of us taking a side to work on, and for the better part of two days we worked to complete the mosaic.

It’s been a long time since I did a craft.  I sewed and stitched and quilted for years and always found the process of creating enormously enjoyable and therapeutic.  These days my artwork happens in my garden and on my computer, and I equally love that, but there’s something about creating a work of art with your hands, something that takes shape as you continue to painstakingly work at it, right before your eyes … just the thought of it makes me breathe deep and shake my head.  It’s so satisfying and I think just damn good for your soul.

What I found interesting as the weekend progressed, was the number of minutes that would pass between anyone needing to speak.  Four people sitting intimately around a small wooden table not uttering a word for 20 minutes at a time, that’s interesting to me.

Studies have found that when humans sing or chant together, their heartbeats synchronize.  Think about that … to me, it’s just such a confirmation that we are all so connected in more ways than we will ever know, and that we communicate not only through our words, but maybe even more so through our bodies, our energies and our minds.

I was contemplating that when we sat so quietly piecing tiles together, wondering if our combined energy was hovering somewhere just over our heads, uniting in the magnificence that can only be described as love, creating not only something of beauty, but something that would continue into the world bringing perhaps a harmony or a positive energy.  And at that moment, I understood just how important Lalo’s work is, all of those numerous Lalo Sanchez’s that are starting to add up  around the state.

To date, the  lucky wineries include Tobin James in Paso Robles, Bodega de Edgar in Paso Robles, Klinker Brick in Lodi, Idle Hour in Oakhurst, and Ziveli in Fresno.

One of his latest major projects was for the Fresno Fire Department.  They used the mosaic to help solicit donations.  And his newest project, he will be working on something for the Shriners in the hopes that it can raise funds for such a great charitable organization.

I hope to get my hands back on some tiles again soon, but in the meantime I will be just as thankful when my fingers find themselves on my keyboard.

If you happen to be at any of the above wineries, you might want to ask to see their Lalo Sanchez, and make sure to emphasize his name if you think of it.

Namaste