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A Kiss of Bliss

Autumn Trees
Autumn Trees (Photo credit: Andrew Griffith)

This time of year has me head over heels in love with life.  The leaves are turning a bright red and orange, ultimately surrendering to the ground with grace.  The grapes are plump and purple, bursting with flavor, wanting to be touched and plucked off the vine.  The day starts to cloud over, the rain starts to fall softly. With humility, the word that comes to me is awe.

The definition of awe is: a mixed feeling of reverence, fear and wonder.  For me, to stand in awe before the heavens is to embrace life with a presence, a stilled concentration that is grounded in an appreciation for what we have, who we are, and what we offer this world.

Every morning when I wake up, I feel I have been given a second chance at life.  Another chance to soak in the moments, if by chance I had missed anything the day before.  Second chances, they are abundant, full of forgiveness and newness whether we are 1 or 90 years of age.  We begin again.  We are forever young.  We go full circle.

No matter the season, winter, spring, summer or fall, I ask in meditation, what does it mean for us to fall in love with life regardless of the challenges?

What is it that makes us feel a sense of awe at the dawning of a new day, or peace at the falling of night.  What gives us that sense of wonder? Is it a glimpse at the ocean, a walk down a narrow path filled with maples and old stone, is it a kiss of bliss that comes with a hug, an embrace, a prayer, a delicious breeze?

I know falling in love with life looks different for each and every one of us, but when we tap into this awe-inspiring, simple truth every day, it sure feels right and eternal.

Finding Joy

I think of the many things that bring me joy, (and there are many) such as the raising of my two boys, spending time with family and friends, working in the vineyards, planting vegetables in the garden, biking the back country roads, writing my blog, seeing the first rose, and making our Nicolas Alexander Meritage wine.  This helps me through the harder times in life.

I also love, equally as much, fine literature–a poignant poem or an excellent story to help me live a more grounded, purposeful and meaningful life.

Righlty used, words become a lyrical language, like a hummingbird resting on a branch, a cat napping on the porch, a soft rain falling on the grass, the moon rising over the evening.  Words are music to my ears, salve to my wounds, comfort to my soul, joy to my heart.  There is nothing like an excellent story to make me think, make me feel and fall hard.  Hemingway‘s shortest story, comes to mind. 

“For sale: Baby’s shoes.  Never worn.” 

Here, he communicates so much pain in very few words. 

As for poetry, I love the poems that make me want to dance, laugh, and tread lightly upon this earth.  As we approach the summer months, The Summer of Love, by Antonio Machado comes to mind.

The Summer of Love

I declare this the Summer of Love,                                                                                                        I declare this the Summer of Dreams,                                                                                                 I declare this the Summer when no one                                                                                            will stop laughing, except to smile.                                                                                                 When no one will stop dreaming, except to sleep.                                                                            The Summer of no watches because there is nothing but now.                                  The Summer of no wallets because everything of value is free.                                                  The summer when men become women and women become men.                                        The Summer during which no one wears underwear.                                                                 The Summer of pure feeling.                                                                                                           And the Summer in which everything…                                                                                          Everything has meaning.                                                                                                                        I declare this the Summer of Love.  The Summer of Now.                                                         The eternal Summer.   The mythical Summer.  The Summer we will always              remember on behalf of us all.  I declare this the Summer of Love.                                          The Summer that starts now and lasts forever.  

Dicentra spectabilis

Now, that’s a poem that makes me feel like these dangling hearts, where their very essence is joy.                                                            

Starting from Scratch

Recently, I met a good friend at the Sebastiani Winery in Sonoma for a picnic lunch.  As we sat down to eat, with the sun warming our skin, he handed me gifts from his garden: a bag of Meyer lemons and tasty citrus tangerines.  The lemons had their natural zest; the tangerines their pungent smell.  This  fresh fruit came from the fertile grounds he and his wife cultivated and grew from scratch. 

My friend shared aspects of his life, about his first home (a tear down) here in Sonoma in which he had to rebuild  from the ground up–from scratch, if you will.  I marveled at this undertaking, the blood, sweat and tears of years of hard work, but even more, at the finished product–a cozy Sonoma bungalow with a wrap around porch, garden, pool and Bocci court. 

One way or another, each and every day, whether it be the writing of a new blog or development of a story,  the making of a fine wine, the teachings of a child, the being there for a friend, the planting of seeds for the garden come spring, the trying of a new recipe, or the watching of the rising sun, falling moon, I look at each day as a life-start from scratch.  It’s a simple approach I know, and found it allows room for forgiveness for daily goofs, god-awful mistakes, unexpected regressions, but ensures new growth and new beginnings.  In this way, I live in the simple present, having less.

It was Jamie Lee Curtis who said in The Huffington Post Guide to Blogging, “I think we as a species are on a suicidal course, wanting more, having more, feeding ourselves and our children on ephemeral pleasures and poisons.”  

I’m far from being out of the woods in terms of simplifying life, my things, my obligations and interests.  It’s taking years to want less, own less, have less, but slowly, I am ridding myself of possessions I don’t need and letting go of what holds me back.  It’s a work in progress. 

I joke with my friends, that one day, all I’ll want is a cotton spool and a bare room to spool in like Gandhi, but in reality, my home in Sonoma surrounded by the simple things: child-like laughter, wine, silence, food and water, tree and flower blooms, birds and books, walks and talks, love, poetry and prayer will do just fine on my porch where I have two seats waiting for you and me. 

After I said good-bye to my lunch pal, he texted me later, offering up a carton of fresh eggs from chickens who feed off his  grounds from scratch.  Ain’t that a lot like life!

Love What You Have

Picture of a red rose

“There are no ordinary moments.”  I read these words on Elena Abrams’ blog, a photographer, mother and artist who captures the moments of this one precious life through digital images

I was inspired by this quote and never before have these words rung more true for me.  I spent the first 35 years of my life rushing through most of life’s moments, days, years running away from the here and now (Pisces have escape tendencies!) until I became a stay at home mom.  Time stood still and shifted into a natural rhythm of purpose and presence.  Motherhood stilled my heart.  Nothing was the same for me, nor felt more right.  Nothing held the same level of importance than the raising of two promising and beautiful human beings.  I was home in mind, body and spirit.

I entered a nurturing world, grounded in the day-to-day, where there are no ordinary moments.  And whenever I lose sight of this fact and I know my life continues after my children, I cut basil from my garden (that reminds me of my mother and my grandmother), I take a picture of the white egret standing stoic in the wild grass, I listen intently to the barn owl hooting outside my window, I rest easy to the sound of my son’s breathing moving easily through the November night air.  I read a favorite poem.  I call my girlfriend.  I look outside and take in the rising sun, the midnight moon, the redwood trees, the red rose.  I take in the here and now and love what I have.

“Never bear more than one trouble at a time.  Some people bear three kinds: All the trouble they had, all they have now, and all they expect to have.” — Edward Everett Hale