New season, new outlook!


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Today was the first day of my favorite season: autumn. I don’t particularly like the season that follows autumn but as I’m working on enjoying the present and focusing on the here and now, I’m not going to worry about that particular aspect of the future.

The weather today was absolutely gorgeous with a cloudless blue sky, gentle breeze and enough sunlight to banish the cooler temperatures of yesterday. Once I’d finished my morning freelance work, I grabbed Jazzmin and we headed out on our daily walk. As I was curious to see how quickly the trees were changing along the farmer’s road, we headed that direction at a brisk pace.

My pup and I had just turned the first corner when I spotted something small and bright green in the center of the closest lane. I peered closer, realized it was a praying mantis and quickly but gently picked him up out of the road. He was the first non-squished praying mantis I’ve seen this year and I was happy to help him travel safely across the road.

The moment I picked the mantis up, he pointed in the direction he wanted to go and I carried him there as he held firmly to my hand.

That way please, Miss!

That way please, Miss!

Now place me gently down there. Thank you!

Now place me gently down there. Thank you!

Once safely on the opposite side of the road, I gently set him down in the grassy shoulder and he quickly blended in with his surroundings. Pleased with another successful creature rescue, I led Jazz onward to the farmer’s access road to continue our walk.

Even though there wasn’t as much color change among the trees as I’d hoped, it was still a lovely walk among dragonflies, butterflies and birds.

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Colorful vines climbing up the trees.

Colorful vines climbing up the trees.

A fallen oak branch filled with acorns.

A fallen oak branch filled with acorns.

This year has also been very good for grasshoppers and everywhere I walk, the ground springs to life as multiple grasshoppers jump swiftly out of my path. I tried to take a picture of the little bugs in action, but they were too fast!

I led Jazz to the end of the canopy of trees over the farmer’s road and up a bit further before turning off the gravel and onto a path of flattened grass created by the large tractors that mow those fields. We walked in the shade of the large trees along the path and paused by a rather large and obviously frequently-traveled deer path. I took a picture to capture the feel of the trees and shadows.

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After that, we stepped out of the shadows and cut across the grassy field toward the little pond we visited earlier in the week. As we approached, a handful of deer went bounding away from the water’s edge and quickly disappeared into the underbrush of the distant trees. A higher up motion caught my eye and I raised my gaze in time to see a hawk flying out from the trees beyond the pond. Wearing a huge smile, I watched as he soared along the tree line for a short way before swooping upward and out of sight over the treetops.

By the time we finished crossing the field, I think Jazz had smelled every animal that had ever traversed the grass. We walked along the far tree line as I searched the ground for red tail hawk feathers. I found a small turkey feather but alas, my hunt for red tail hawk feathers continues.

Turkey feather I found today.

Turkey feather I found today.

Jazzmin and I returned from our walk quite satisfied by the exercise and our adventures. She took a quick snooze while I showered and then it was off to pick up Jordan and continue the normal routine of the day.

This evening was just as beautiful as the day so my girls and I took a short walk up around the corner to the nearby stream. Jordan had a chance to practice her pack leader skills and I was pleased to see how well Jazzmin walked alongside my oldest daughter.

Jordan walking Jazzmin and Jaycie following behind.

Jordan walking Jazzmin and Jaycie following behind.

It was the perfect end to a perfect day, an ideal beginning to my favorite season, and an eye opening transition to a new perspective!

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The Power of Illumination (or lack thereof)

When nightlight bulbs start burning out all over the house, some people would dismiss it as cheap bulbs or wiring issues, but to someone like me, it was a sign.

Over the past two weeks, the nightlight bulbs in my house have systematically been burning out. First, it was the nightlight in the kitchen, then the one in my daughters’ bedroom, and finally the one in the hallway. As I was out of replacement bulbs and kept forgetting to get more, I lived in relative darkness at night for a week or so. I still had light at night from the fish tank in the girls’ room and the LED flower nightlight in the bathroom, but the rest of the house existed bathed in shadows.

At first, I dismissed it as cheap bulbs but I quickly realized that it was a sign. I believe that there are always spirits around me to guide me on my path and redirect me when I step off the correct trail. I’d temporarily wandered off my positive path with some rather negative thinking and the spirits and my house responded to that energy by making it rather dark in my world. I re-examined my thoughts, corrected my thinking, and sought out the light once more, both metaphorically and literally.

When I went to the store to buy new bulbs I discovered that LED nightlight bulbs exist now. The bulbs seemed like an energy-efficient, more durable, and safer option so I chose them instead of traditional bulbs. The LED nightlight bulbs come in colors like green, blue, and “soft white” and I grabbed a package of each to mix things up a bit around my house. I put the soft white ones (they’re really more bluish than white) in the kitchen and hallway nightlights and a green one in the girls’ nightlight. I chose green for that one because it’s a little resin Pooh Bear house and the green light looked neat shining out from the green tree.

Once I’d replaced all the bulbs, I then did a sage smudge to cleanse my house of any accumulated negative energy. Changing my thinking was the first step toward abolishing the negative energy but I knew it could linger in my home if I didn’t deal with it appropriately. I love the smell of a burning sage stick and I let the aroma and cleansing energies wash over me and restore the light that had become temporarily shadowed within me.

Image courtesy of A Fanciful Twist

Dealing with that whole experience reminded me about the power of illumination and how it feels when it’s not as present as I’d like. Stumbling around in a dark house at night is an inconvenience but easier to fix than being in the dark about other things in my life like friendships. When my cellphone screen doesn’t light up with a text response from a friend as often as it used to and when everything else in their life seems to come before their friendship with me, I feel the shadows of doubt creep in.

Though some might see them as weaknesses, I believe two of my strengths are my open heart and giving nature. I am perhaps a bit naive because the truth that a once valued friendship is no longer as important to the other person doesn’t always dawn on me right away. It’s difficult for me to accept sometimes that other people’s actions aren’t necessarily a reflection on who I am, but on who they are and that they just decided I don’t have a place in their life at this time, or anymore at all.

Yet even the hardest truths to swallow have something to teach me and shed light on realities I’ve tried not to face. I know that while the light has faded or completely gone out on that branch of my path, new paths will open up that are brighter and easier to navigate. I don’t believe that every path has to be easy and I learn a lot from the more difficult journeys, but there comes a point when it’s not worth trying to cut through the thorns when the person on the other side of the path isn’t cutting their way toward me. That path goes dark for a reason and it’s up to me to focus on a different path and those who seek out and appreciate the light I have to offer.

Autumn in Summer

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Today was a beautiful combination of summer weather and fall colors. A strong breeze made the warmer temperatures tolerable, golden sunlight streamed down, fluffy clouds floated swiftly along, and a bright blue sky created the perfect contrast to the sporadic flashes of autumn colors appearing in the trees. Jazzmin and I took full advantage of the perfect weather by taking a nice, long, semi-leisurely walk. I say semi-leisurely because Jazzmin doesn’t really have a “slow” speed so everything has to move at a decent power-walking pace. Even though I could slow her down if I wanted to, the pace is beneficial for both of us and we strut along side-by-side with her on my left as I keep my eyes peeled for oncoming cars.

The warmth of the sun today convinced me to seek a shady route for our walk. Since we were heading out at 2:30 p.m., the only viable option for shade from the sun’s angle was the farmer’s access road. The farmer’s road is one of my favorite walking routes because we never have to worry about other dogs and the only “traffic” is the occasional slow tractor that we can easily avoid. Along the road today, there were intriguing spots of bright red and warm orange among the tree leaves as well as numerous butterflies, dragonflies, and birds. I was happy to see and hear the bluebirds because I know it’s only a matter of time before they head south. I don’t blame them and I wish I could go with them but I’ll miss them when they’re gone.

When we reached the area where the farmer’s road opens up into multiple fields, I decided we’d walk up to the top of the nearest hill and then back down to investigate the little pond filled with cattails. The farmer very recently added fresh dirt to the road leading up the hill and it was well-packed but refreshingly comfortable under our feet. We walked until we reached the top of the hill and the end of the tree shade and then paused for a while so I could take in the view. Photos don’t really do the view justice but I took some anyway in an attempt to convey the vastness of the surrounding landscape.

 

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One of the fallen leaves. Note Jazz keeping watch nearby.

One of the fallen leaves. Note Jazz keeping watch nearby.

After we made it over to the little pond, I was pleasantly surprised to see a pair of redwing blackbirds flying among the cattails. I’d just been thinking the other day that I hadn’t seen any redwing blackbirds in a couple months and I’d wondered where they went. Apparently, they just become more particular about where they live once they’ve settled in for the season. Unfortunately, the cattails were too tall to see anything else through so we headed back toward the main road home.

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The little pond and the view beyond.

 

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One of the many monarchs we saw flying around the fields.

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Walking among the “tunnel of trees” on the farmer’s access road is one of my favorite experiences. It looks as though the path is endless even though I know there’s a paved road on one end and fields on the other. The canopy of branches and leaves gently falling down from them created a very serene feeling that I reveled in all the way back.

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Jazzmin and I had just turned the corner onto the road we live on when I heard a hawk cry from up in the sky. I looked up and saw not one, but two hawks circling above the trees to our right. I stopped in my tracks and watched them circle as they talked to each other amid lazy circles. Eventually they separated and I grabbed my camera again to see if I could capture one in flight. It’s no easy thing finding a distant hawk against a bright blue sky when looking into a camera viewfinder but I managed to spot him and snap a couple pictures. I then tucked my camera away and we continue down the road and into our driveway as I kept my eyes on his soaring form.

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The hawk flew south over my driveway and into the farmer’s field behind my house before disappearing beyond the treetops. I appreciated that he felt the need to make sure I got home safe and I imagine I’ll be seeing him again soon.

I do love autumn, it’s one of my favorite seasons, but I don’t mind when a bit of summer manages to sneak in before the end of its run. Every day with sunshine, warmth, changing leaves is a blessing and I’m going to revel in it as I try not to think about the less pleasant season that follows.

Ooo! A fuzzy caterpillar! My reason for being!

The first fuzzy caterpillar I've rescued this fall!

The first fuzzy caterpillar I’ve rescued this fall!

After a morning of writing work and college work, I decided to take Jazzmin on a nice long walk this afternoon. I felt compelled to walk to a particular farmer’s field that was two miles from my house and as it was a beautiful day, it seemed like the perfect time to obey that urge.

I can’t actually recall the last time Jazzmin and I did the 4 mile walk, but it’s definitely been a while. We started out strong as our spirits were bolstered by the nice breeze and big, puffy clouds that periodically shaded us from the sun. I’ve been so caught up in work lately, that I feel out of touch with nature and my bigger role in the universe but today’s walk changed all that!

We were going up the first hill when I spotted a fuzzy caterpillar crossing the road a distance ahead. The first thoughts that popped into my head were “Ooo! A fuzzy caterpillar! My reason for being!” and I quickly sped up to reach the little guy before a car came along and squished him. To better understand my love for the little things, read my Fall’s Fuzzy Caterpillars entry.

I scooped the caterpillar up, he curled into a tight ball, and I carried him safely to the side of the road he’d been crawling toward. As I carried him, he opened up and by the time I reached the shoulder, he was crawling across my hand. I placed him safely in the grass away from the road and wished him well on his journey.

Now, some people might find it odd that I think rescuing a caterpillar is my reason for being, but it’s perfectly normal for me. That one little act reminded me that I do indeed serve a purpose in the bigger picture and that nature and I are connected. My connection with nature was proven throughout the entire walk today as I saw just about every type of sign I’ve ever asked for. I saw two hawks-one on the way out and one on the way back-two merlins on the way out, tons of little white butterflies flying alone and in pairs, and over a dozen monarchs gliding gracefully in the breeze. It was one of the best walks I’ve had in a long time!

Looking toward the two mile walk back home...

Looking toward the two mile walk back home…

My walk also reminded me of a very important lesson: every journey outward requires the same distance traveled inward. Spiritually that sounds and is very profound, but physically it means that walking two miles out means we have to walk two miles back home. Jazz and I were dragging after only a half mile back toward home but we kept putting one foot in front of the other and made it safely home…almost two hours after we’d left. Not our best time, but we weren’t going for speed, we were going for fulfillment, and we achieved that. I feel happily reconnected with nature and know with certainty that the universe needs me and has great plans for me!

My birds helped me plant some huge sunflowers this year!

My birds helped me plant some huge sunflowers this year!

A walk in the field

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I accomplished a lot yesterday! I completed my daily quota of freelance articles, read through the modules for both college courses, did all the online textbook reading for my SNHU 107 class, took a walk with Jordan and Jazzmin, cooked burgers out on the grill and ended the day by reading some of the online textbook for my English Composition class. Jordan was a big help by assisting Jaycie with her homework and at one point I had to go into my bedroom to finish my writing work, but I got it all done! I had a lot to be proud of and while I was proud, I was also a bit disappointed.

Although I understand that adding college into the mix makes it more challenging to fit everything in, I didn’t realize how tricky it would be to properly manage my time. Interestingly enough, my SNHU 107 class reading last night was about time management. For the past few weeks I’ve been saving my college work until Wednesday when the girls go to their father’s house. While I was able to accomplish all my required work by the deadlines, I thought perhaps I should spread it out over whole week. Well, I gave it a shot but after yesterday, I’ve decided the system I had worked out was just fine!

My girls come first, plain and simple. Jordan shouldn’t be helping Jaycie with her homework, I should. I shouldn’t have to hide away to get work done when the girls are home, I should be spending time WITH the girls! My favorite part of yesterday was the walk with Jordan and Jazz but even that felt rushed because we had to get back home in time to pick Jaycie up from school.

I started out today with the intention of getting all of my freelance work done before the girls got home and then not diving into my college work until tonight after they were in bed. It went okay for the first couple articles but then a client asked for a full rewrite, my word processing program started doing weird things and I found myself on the verge of frustrated tears. At that moment, I decided enough was enough! So I promptly shut down my computer, changed into my walking clothes, “saddled up” Jazz in her backpack and headed out for a walk on the lovely fall afternoon.

Jazz and I had made it halfway up the first hill when I found the farmer’s field off to our left calling to me. I could’ve kept going up the hill on the road but I listened to my gut and my gut said “Go into the field!” I turned Jazz off the road and into the field of almost knee-high clover and grass we went! She really had to pick up her paws to navigate the field and she kept snorting it all up and sneezing. If we’d been trying to sneak up on anything, we would’ve failed miserably.

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My trusty pup and I made it to the top of the field hill and were rewarded with a lovely view of more green fields, blue sky, puffy clouds and butterflies flying all around. I stood there for many moments breathing it all in and reconnecting with my inner serenity. Jazz was busy sniffing and snorting the grass and I suppose that’s how she connected her nose with her own version of deer-scented serenity. I was extremely glad I’d listened to my gut because even in just the few moments we stood there, I felt re-energized.

To leave the field, we headed toward the wall of trees that lined the edge of a deep ravine. At the bottom of the ravine runs the barely trickling stream that just a month ago was so flooded with water it washed out the road.

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The grass was shorter by the trees and easier to walk through and Jazz had a wonderful time smelling the deer, squirrels, chipmunks, grasshoppers, mice, and mythical creatures that had been there at some point in history.

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I admired the great height and strength of the oak trees while avoiding the raspberry prickers growing by their roots. I was very surprised to find a recently ripened clump of black raspberries so late in the season! I snapped a picture to prove that I wasn’t hallucinating.

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When we returned home, it was almost time to pick up Jordan so I made myself presentable then loaded Jazz into the car to head out. I won’t get as much work done today as I did yesterday but I’ll get it all done eventually and on time. Today reminded me that while work is important, so is taking a breath and a break to enjoy the world around me.

 

Keep looking up!

Hawk I saw soaring over the back field today.

Hawk I saw soaring over the back field today.

 

I knew it was going to be tricky balancing taking care of the girls, writing freelance and doing my college work but I wasn’t quite prepared for all that and the other unexpected challenges I’ve faced over the past week. Things that had been constants in my life became unpredictable and I dealt with the pain of loss in familiar, heart wrenching ways. The most important thing though is that I’m still here, still kicking, still fighting the good fight. I attribute that to my ability to keep looking up even when I’m on the ground.

Trying to read online text books and complete college assignments while I had the girls proved a mostly futile endeavor but I got everything done once they were back with their father. Then I was faced with the challenge of defining a thesis and writing an essay about it. I thought that would be relatively easy but I was wrong and I was left frustrated and doubting my abilities as a writer. I may never be great at thesis and essays but I know I’m a good writer. I was born to be a writer and I’m certain the challenge of college English will help me grow and strengthen my abilities.

I floundered a bit when contact with friends faltered and vanished but I knew they were facing their own challenges so I mustered my courage and marched onward. I know my mom and my girls are always there to cheer me on and support me but I still long for the social circle aspect of my life that has been missing since my divorce. I knew there would be a transition/adjustment period when my marriage ended but I didn’t expect to still be in it three years later.

I’ve definitely made progress in my different and better life but sometimes it’s tough to go it alone. Well, I’m not totally alone, my pup Jazzmin will be my shadow to the ends of the earth and beyond. I’m so lucky to have her in my life because she’ll never judge me or question my choices. She always sees the best in me and through her eyes I see what a kind-hearted human I am.

Jazzmin is great at making me smile and laugh!

Jazzmin is great at making me smile and laugh!

I’ve also started keeping a journal of all the positives things in my life and the positive omens and signs I see every day. Taking the time to write it all down every single day really put it all in perspective for me. I receive numerous positive messages every day and have more blessings than I can count. Focusing on the positive aspects of my life completely outshines any negativity I encounter and it gives me the strength to continue on my journey.

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As I said in the beginning of this, I keep looking up and I mean this literally. I’m always looking up toward the sky for signs and spirit guardians. Every day I see numerous little butterflies around my yard and at least a couple of monarchs. For several days in a row I’ve seen hawks soaring in the sky and they’ve gone out of their way to make sure I see them. The hawks have circled in front of my living room window, cast shadows in front trees so I’ll go outside and see them in the back field and flown directly over me during walks with Jazzmin.

A quick online search reveals various meanings behind seeing a hawk but I believe that they’re guardians and guides from the spirit world sent to remind me to see the world with a wider vision. I tend to become too focused on small issues without having patience and faith in the bigger picture. When I see a hawk, I’m filled with a sense of calm and of knowing that everything will be okay. Whether the hawk is soaring or sitting atop a tree or pole, I’m aware of their watchful eye and I’m filled with reassurance that I’ll always be on the right path as long I keep looking where I want to go: up!

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