Saturday, September 24, 2022

Change in Season - Facing Change


No matter what we do or say, there are few things we can count on in our lives...the world will turn, the sun will rise and there will be stars up in the sky whether obscured by sunlight or accented by darkness. Gravity is fairly constant and something we must learn to contend with day in and day out.  For now, the coffee is warm – aromatic and I’m sipping it peacefully as the sun climbs above the horizon (or, more accurately put, the Earth is noticeably turning at one of those times of day that it is truly noticeable).


The long scorching hot Summer came and went and if I’m honest, I’d say uneventfully.  That’s not a problem in my book.  Uneventful means I’ve had moments of clarity, of peace and of quiet.  The birds are singing just now, and it is reasonably cool out in my little corner of the world.  The Chinese Elm in my back yard is speckled now with yellow leaves that soon will fall.  At this time of year, I am always reminded that the trees just let their leaves fall.  It is part of their existence – their nature.  Funny it is that we humans hold on to things…memories, stuff, and thoughts, thoughts and more thoughts.  When we can muster a moment of clarity and let things drop away and become even more clear, more grounded and even more grateful, we can flow more easily through the stream of the elements and Seasons that make up our experience of life.


Fall winds here always seems to bring change.  Those Fall winds are blowing now and soon into the season too.  I remain curious about the changes going on around me.  Some changes are uncomfortable because of the unknown aspects of potential consequences but some changes are good bringing relief and an opportunity to refresh, begin again, usher in new thought and energy.  While uncomfortable for a time, I’d like to think that change is ultimately good – whether wanted or unwanted. Pivotal moments where lives and paths intersect always bring the possibility of change and growth. Well, the growth-part is a choice we'd be wise to make.  I am okay with change even if it feels uncomfortable for a time. If I dig in my heels and resist, the only soul I’d be hurting is myself and I have vowed time and time again, never to intentionally cause self-harm! We can't really fight change in our lives - time marches on - a constant.


The seasons of my life have brought me much that I am so grateful for.  I stand much more confidently in my own skin these days and so the changes blowing all around me aren’t something that I get overly concerned about.  If I walk back through my memories, I can clearly see that change has been the one very dominant constant in my life along with breathing – up to this point.  It is part of my awareness and existence.  I am constantly reminded to appreciate all that I have experienced and to cherish the good and bad alike.  It is all part of my experience of life on planet Earth.  Although I am very aware of the change thoughts running through my mind this morning, I intend to just breathe, remain curious and hopeful – grateful – committed.


Coffee consumed and first morning chores complete (feed the doggo and the kitty cat), I now must return to the routine of my day.  I’ll do so contemplative today.  I feel it already.  I have much to wonder about.  I have much gratitude yet to fully appreciate and I’ll keep that in mind throughout my day today.  At this moment in time, all is well, no major concerns or worries and I intend to appreciate a day off of my work-a-day world.  I have learned that I am well prepared and grounded enough and with trust in my ability enough to face whatever consequences of change that I encounter.  I have proven myself resourceful, thoughtful and capable of pivoting quickly if need be.  I think that is the beauty of experience and growing older in this frame.  When you look back and recount all of the things and situations you have faced and mastered, you begin to develop very strong trust in yourself to face your life with an ever diminishing sense of fear and angst and an ever growing sense of strength, wisdom and confidence.  I love that.  I hope what ever change blows your way brings you the courage to stand and face it standing tall in your skin with curiosity and confidence.  You’ve got this.  Have a lovely Fall!  Enjoy every turn of color, gently falling leaf and hopefully, gently changing temperatures that don’t shock your system! 


© J.L. Harter, September 2022 (photo and words)

Sunday, July 31, 2022

Unexpected Gifts the Moment Reveals

Our concerns and cares change over time, don’t they?  When I began blogging back in 2009 or so, so much of my life was in chaos and I carried so many worries and concerns.  I carried my hopes and dreams too and actually managed to manifest a few.  But my concerns and worries have vastly changed.


Call it the wisdom of aging and experience maybe or finally learning what matters most in life, I guess.  But then I think again, have my concerns and cares really changed or is it I who have changed?  I’m pretty sure the latter heavily influenced the former.  I think that is how it is – this life here on Earth.  Some moments in time feel like an utter eternity, particularly during the most painful, bewildering and challenging moments.  I remember a phrase so often heard throughout my years that stuck with me and has been reinforced over and over again to the point that even in my most excruciating moments I know to the heart and soul of me, “This too, shall pass.”  Every happy moment, every sad and tragic moment, every fear, every moment of elation – This too, shall pass.  We too shall pass.


I think this is why mindfulness grabbed a hold of me unconsciously at first.  It resonated so deeply within me I didn’t recognize the truth of it  - although I knew the present moment was all we had logically.  It passes and quickly and we must then courageously face the next and the next moment for as long as our hearts are beating.  How do we do that?  It is literally one breath at a time.  Even if the breaths come quick and ragged, one breath at a time.  How do we get anywhere or achieve anything?  One step at a time.  We may wish with all of our might that we were anywhere but a current painful moment.  But, if we were to rush past it without fully experiencing it, we would miss something important.  A moment is fleeting, like a heartbeat, the blink of an eye…so quickly does life pass in a stream and sometimes seemingly, a rushing river.


I think the greatest gift I’ve been given in all of my life is trust in myself to manage the painful moments without shrinking back from them.  That doesn’t mean my foolish mind doesn’t at times wish I could jump timelines or dimensions.  It does.  But I don’t seek that with sincerity.  I stop, breathe in the moment whether I judge it good or bad - painful or joyful.  I leave that moment and carry into the next the wisdom and trust to know I can face the next moment because I survived the last.  Funny thoughts for a Sunday I suppose.  The day escaped me so quickly.  I could swear 5 minutes ago it was 5:15 am and my cat was meowing at my door to be fed.


But since that moment, I accomplished so many other things I set out to do and now here it is nearly 2:00 pm on a Sunday.  My mind is very present appreciating the quality of the light as I notice Summer slowly readying itself to merge into Fall.  There is just something about the light, the position of the sun, or the way that the shadows from the branches of my tree move that I begin to notice in earnest every year about this time.  Something within shifts and I move from the hopeless heat of an unforgiving Arizona Summer into the hope of Fall and cooler nights soon to be followed by cooler days as the days slowly begin to exist shorter and shorter minute by minute.


Time is a funny thing in and of itself.  It can reel you in or spin you out if you are not careful and grounded.  I never expected to be this me at this point in time.  But moment by moment, breath by breath, step by step, and heartbeat by heartbeat I got here to this moment.  I am not unscathed by the moments that came before, but I remain grateful for this moment, well – all of my moments and I remain hopeful for the next and next.  I do not wish to rush and I will not fight time’s passage by wishing it to slow.  In mindfulness I have learned to appreciate what is as it is.  That appreciation was and is hard won.  It takes a long uphill battle to find that prize.  I hope it remains ever in my grasp.  Blessings for your precious realization of this moment, and courage for your next breath, step and heartbeat.



© 2022 J.L. Harter Photo and Words



Friday, June 10, 2022

Collected Moments

I woke up before the sun this morning. Feeling peaceful, I went about my routine. Coffee brewing, I opened the blinds to let in the slowly expanding light.  I’d like to say I enjoyed the cool of the morning but there was no cool to be had.  It’s just about summer in The Valley of the Sun and while mornings are cooler, they are certainly not cool at all.  But, the beauty of sunrise is unmistakably wonderous and amazing to behold no matter the time of year.  The birds are singing, Mourning Doves cooing and I can hear the soft whir of air conditioning units humming in unison like some strange song that sets your teeth on edge a bit.


Times are strange, I think.  My exciting moment of the day will be a second booster dose of the COVID vaccine and hoping that one case of Monkey Pox in my county hasn’t spread.  That’s just all we need, another pandemic.  Many folks act as if the pandemic ended but it hasn’t.  Case numbers are still high for COVID but people just don’t seem to care as much.  COVID seems to be becoming a new norm and I must say that I don’t like it.  Unfortunately, it is a reality so I have no choice but to accept this thing I cannot change and do my best to enjoy all other aspects of my life as best as I can.  COVID has come through my door like 5 or 6 times now.  I must say though, having been vaccinated, we fortunately get through it without issue and with most of us fully vaccinated, it becomes a mild inconvenience for a few days.


I’m about to finish my 55th trip around the sun in just a few months and I’ve noticed some changes in my world view, my internal practices, and the way that I feel physically.  I no longer view the world with 20/20, arthritis greets me every morning already, and you’d think that would be disheartening but to me, it isn’t.  It’s becoming more and more like gravity and I notice it but move on.  I’m grateful to live in a warm and dry climate (pats self on the back for a smart move a few years back).  My tolerance for heat has really grown.  I love the sunlight in this place.  We have dark skies so infrequently here.  I’m loving my little refuge in the desert.  I’m loving being a Grandmother.  I’m struggling with being the owner of a dog with a bad disposition.  The training is an every day thing for life to keep him in check.  Beautiful dog and I love him so.


My life has grown quiet these past many years in most areas and I have to say that the last few years have been really happy ones.  Despite a crazy load of work for the day job, all is calm, all is bright.  The things that used to really dig in underneath my skin are seemingly of no consequence unless I’ve allowed myself to become too tired or overly stressed.  I love how age and wisdom dulls our sharp edges.  I relish the peace in striving to please no one but myself for a change.  I love waking every morning knowing this game of life is truly me against me.  Blame no longer haunts me.  Guilt recedes like the light into the darkness.  Victim thinking of any kind rarely takes hold.  I don’t hope for better tomorrows but instead take a breath and feel my way through the present moment over and over again.  Your life changes when you learn the enormous gift the present truly is.


So, a few paragraphs I leave you with of nothing much to say.  Growing quieter by the day still for no real reason other than the years of fears, worries and angst have all worked themselves out in my world.  My deepest thoughts these days are of the beauty in every moment of every day, the depth of the sky observing tiny pinpoints of far away light, the amazing array of colors during sunset, the way a child’s innocent face not only lights up a room but an entire life.  I have been so blessed. For all that has come before this moment, I am truly grateful.  For all that is present, I am humbled.  For all that has yet to come, I remain ever hopeful – curious – welcoming.  Have a blessed day, week, year, life – moment.




copyright 2022 Janice Harter (photo/words)