Sacred Space: Inner Peace

There is no greater state of being, nor higher goal worth pursuing than Inner Peace. What I call, the Sacred Space that springs eternal from the soul. Despite our joys, fears, doubts, hurts, disappointments and suffering, when I go inward into my heart, Light-in-HeartI tap into a pure, true and untouchable place, a knowing that I, that all of us play a part in something much more magnificent than ourselves, a part in the profound beauty and grand design of this one precious life.

August 2016 005In the wine country, there is evidence of this wherever I look: in the bushels that attract butterflies, in the herb garden where basil, cilantro and parsley thrive, when the Sonoma moon shines its light on my darkest nights.

Inside my home, it’s in the books of poetry I read, and the novels I hold in my hands. It’s in the grand silence that inspired writers to spill their stories onto the page.

Joan Didion, who experienced the excruciating losses of both her husband and her daughter, one to a sudden death, and the other to a cruel disease, found her salvation, her way out through her writings, her sacred space.Gifts of Beauty 002

I suppose my greatest pull to wholeness and the life that was calling for me, came from May Sarton, a poet and journal writer who lived in New England. She wrote about the simple things inside a profound daily existence filled with language, animals, flowers, friendships, and poetic reflection. I was hooked with her first book called, Plant Dreaming Deep. 

In her books, she speaks about solitude and how it helped her find her way through a noisy world, to avoid collisions with others. I ask, “How can we fully be ourselves and yet not collide with other’s wills and ways?” I like the idea of riding alongside someone in their journey, instead of butting heads to reach higher ground, greater solutions.

Sarton’s books live on a shelf by my nightstand. She reminds me every day to keep life real and simple. And in 1995, when Sarton died, I took a trip East to visit her home and grave in Nelson, New Hampshire. I knew then, I would like to continue her life, someway, somehow. My blog is a humble attempt. In her honor, I share her poem with you that she actually wrote on a pane of glass in her Nelson home.

May Sarton

MAY SARTON

A Poem on a Pane of Glass

Happy the man who can long roam-ing reap,
Like old Ulysses when he shaped his course
Homeward at last toward the native source,
Seasoned and stretched to plant his dreaming deep.
When shall I see the chimney smoke once more
Of my own village; in a fervent hour
When maples blaze or lilac is in flower
Push open wide again my plain white door?

Here is a little province, poor and kind —
Warmer than marble is the weathered wood;
Dearer than holy Ganges, the wild brook;
And sweeter than old Greece to this one mind.
A ragged pasture, open green, white steeple,
And these whom I have come to call my people.
– May Sarton
1955-1972, Nelson

 

A Sense of Place

Clouds hover over our home as the leaves on the Maple trees start to turn. Soon, the sun will break and the sky will be painted in blue. There is a quivering in the air with the anticipation of fall. The day is just beginning and there will never be another one like it.

sky photo

Before the neighbors wake, I take a walk with my dog Ella. She came from the streets of Thailand, poor thing, only one years old. She lives with us now, where all is quiet, sure and still. Thankfully, she has fallen into the arms of safety, love and trust. She sleeps deeply every night in the knowledge of this truth.

Photo cred: Deborah Parrish

In return, she gifts me with time. The time to take meditative walks, to remember what’s important in this life. She nudges me, even begs me to join her and venture into the wonders of nature in the wine country. Mozart plays into my headphones as the violin serenades me through the lush green vineyards toward the back country roads of Sonoma. At this time of year, the grapes are alive with color and bulging with juice waiting to be plucked off the vines. 008

I pay attention to the living things connected to timelessness, to a mystical place I once came from many moons ago and where I will one day return; I look at the Sun, the Dahlias resting in a garden pot, the Mayacamas Mountains in the distance, and feel the aliveness of the human spirit, the dog spirit. They are one. We walk a good mile before we had back to our daily routine.

After an hour, I am back at my desk and spend most my hours writing about Sonoma, about the hidden music I hear rustling in the Redwood Trees, about hope and beauty. Somehow, the words mysteriously make their way onto the page.

sonoma-garden1.jpg

I write about place, my sense of place. The center of the Sun.

 

 

A Gentle Thing

It’s raining.  I stop to listen and watch it coming down. The rain feeds my soul, nourishes our planet. As the drops fall on my face, I bask in the quiet of this gentle and simple pleasure and think of a man I admired much. Alan Rickman.  I loved his work, his art.  He said, “If only life could be a little more tender and art a little more robust.

He is right.  The times cry for tender moments.  They crave, simpler, gentler times like a walk in the rain, the holding of hands, a smile, art.  All things one can not fight.

In honor of Alan Rickman, I wish for tenderness, creativity and art.  May it be so.

 

Harvest Time: 5 Ways to Transform Your Life

It’s harvest time, and during the Fall season in the wine country, great changes are at hand, at the hands of Mother Earth, the winemaker, and the wine lover.

6764_10151511040733376_699860311_n Bud008When the grapes are picked, ready to turn to wine, I claim humans are not much different than those lovely robust clusters of fruit dangling on the vine, waiting to be picked, waiting to be changed.  Do we not have our own step-by- step process that if carefully followed we might reach our dreams, or goals, our highest state of being?

First, we must accept things the way they are.  Be with how things are.  Second, you must question why you want what you want? Is it to make your life better? Is it to escape where you are now? Accept. Adapt. Grow.

In an article for hiplatina, I was asked to write on the subject of alchemy, on the ways you can change your life more organically, rather than from the usual ‘looking outside yourself'” approach.  I wrote it from the perspective of a small town winemaker during harvest time.  I would love to share this article with you, Harvest Time: 5 Ways to Transform Your Life  here. Just click on the link and see if this natural path of change resonates with you.  And while you’re reading, have a delicious glass of wine along the way.

Cheers!  To life!

The Soul Whisperer

Living in the wine country, everything around me tells me to slow down and pay attention, to live simply and without want.  To quit grasping.  To become more fully human, deeply present through intention, discipline, practice and gratitude.

 My Mother's Dream 044

My pumpkins are masters at this.  They stand tall and stoic; Nature shows her wise ways–as the leaves turn a yellow and orange, and the sun slowly drapes over the vines showing their nakedness to the world.

I am content, feeling the Autumn breeze on my face.  I muse about the simple life most days, because it is my sanity.  It’s not easy, especially with children to raise, aging parents to worry about and care for, and the media bombarding us with bad news, left and right, it it just feels like there is no where to run, but there is…

Inward.  Happiness lives there.

I love the story that John Lennon once shared:

“When I was five years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life.  When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up.  I wrote down ‘happy’.  They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.”

What a beautiful story.  I wish this for everyone, to learn early that the secret of life is happiness.

Today, I wrote down 3 ways to live simply, that I believe will also make you happier, heaven knows the list will grow, but it’s a good start:

1.  Shut out the things that don’t serve you in your life:  Be it the news, a high maintenance friend, emails, or the trappings of social media.  Shut it off.  You deserve the quiet and joyful thoughts that come with silence and solitude.

2. Take the time to be in nature:  Take a walk, a sit out on your deck, meditate in the park, light a fire at night in your fire pit and stare up at the moonlit stars.  Nature is your peaceful guide and serene friend.

3. Don’t overextend, over promise, overdo:  The only way we can stay present to ourselves and to others is to keep our calendars open to carve out a few hours first for ourselves.  The constant ‘to dos’ will never go away, especially pressing emergencies, but we will grow resentful, angry and even depressed if we do not value ourselves, our heart and our dreams.  

4.  Do something everyday that really makes you happy.  For me it’s writing, or being with a friend sharing a cup of tea or a good book, lighting a candle, cooking a homemade meal, saying a prayer, petting my kitties.

Monica

It’s when I live simply, my mind quiets down.  My body perks up.  I hear my soul whisper, “thank you,” for choosing me over some mindless activity or haunting piece of news.  And then asks, “Aren’t I your eternal compass and companion?”

Serenity

I haven’t written a wine country post on ‘the simple life’ for months, because life has been anything but simple.  My father has been in and out of the hospital for the past four months, battling Alzheimer’s for five years.  On May 30th, he was placed in a nursing home.

The caring for him at home became impossible.  Since he left, where he lived for over 50 years, it’s strange to carry on with life as if the days are normal.  There is a cloud hanging over my head, and a hole in my heart because my father is gone, but still here.  He remembers me on rare occasion, but lives in his own reality; and now, strangers care for him on a daily basis.  It’s killing my mother.  It’s killing all of us, slowly, because it is so hard to watch a loved one’s decline.

It is a tender time.  It is a poignant time.  And yet, it is what it is.  His fate is out of our hands, placed into God’s, Mother Nature’s, the divine spirit.

Buddha says, “Accept what is so,” but this has been hard.  This is my father, my hero, my first true love that I miss beyond words.  So, I grieve him while bottling over 21 cases of our 2010 Meritage wine; I grieve him cooking for my family, when tending the garden filled with sunflowers and birds.  Every day, by doing the simplest, most gentle acts, I mourn.

When one grieves, we go inward.  We become insightful, reflective, still. We harness our energy until we can give again, love and live again in the only way we know how.  I guess this is what I have been doing, and coming out of my well of sadness, finding solace and joy in writing, sharing my thoughts with you through the profound silence of the written word.

There is a simplicity emerging out of this experience, and that is to be with it: To not push or pull at it, but to let life unfold as designed by nature, no matter how cruel.  And it is cruel.  To accept and surrender.  This reminds me of the prayer my mother has posted above her kitchen sink, a prayer I read every day as a child and grown up woman.

May it carry all of us during impossible times:

 

 

 

 

Listening to My Inner Voice

Finch going....
Finch going…. (Photo credit: carfull…Cowboy State-r)

Last night, I picked up the book, The Journal Keeper, a memoir by Phyllis Theroux.  I was reminded of how much I love this genre: the personal memoir, journals, reflections on one person’s unique days on this earth.  These books are true stories that take me higher, provide new insights or simply remind me I am not alone.

In The Journal Keeper, Elizabeth Gilbert wrote a kind word about the book: “The Journal Keeper reminds us that there is no such thing as an ordinary moment, and certainly no such thing as an ordinary life.”

So true.  And for me what matters most is to live honestly, gracefully, taking in the day and capturing in my mind’s eye every ordinary moment that I know falls nothing short of extraordinary: the vines lying dormant for the winter, the yellow, red, and blue finches resting their tiny little feet on the barren tree branches, my mother’s voice over the phone, my father saying I love you in the background of the call, the Citrus candle flickering on my desk.

Like Theroux, I love to read the journals and/or letters by May Sarton, Marcus Aurelius, C.S. Lewis, Rachel Carson, and Theroux.  When I journal through my Wine Country Diaries blog, I tap into a deeper wisdom that I spiritually know is guiding me, connecting my spirit to something larger than myself.

My inner voice whispers, “Trust, surrender to what is, and life will show you, allow life to unfold before you, even if it is painful, mysterious, or scary.  You are not in the driver’s seat.”

In listening deeply to my wiser self, that singular voice, I write with conviction, live simply and honor my soul.  I am home in my heart.  When reading journals, personal essays or memoirs, I am in connected to their unique beauty and life.  I am, for just a little while, welcomed into their homes, their souls.

My New Year’s wish for me and you is that we listen to our inner voice each and every day. And live from the heart.

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