The Transformative Power of Letting Go

 

Samantha the Christmas Star
Samantha Merry, our Christmas Star

Happy New Year!

Welcome back to the Gardener Dragon’s blog.  I hope that 2018 has been good to you.  It’s off to a roaring start here in New England with the biggest snowstorm of the season upon us.  I am grateful that I have the warmth of company from my husband, my hamster, my daughter and her friends in my home as I write.  At 6:45 we’ll gather with our neighbors at my co-housing community’s common house for a delicious meal of black-eyed pea stew, collard greens and corn bread.  I will be heading off for some gaming before that.

With a grateful heart I welcome this new year with wide open arms, and I resolve to write 12 fresh blogs this year ~ one per month!  I give myself that goal because in addition to this blog, I write for SheWrites and Hub Pages.  I am also working on two novels.

Letting Go

When seeking inspiration for my writing, I often look to nature.  When the weather is mild, i.e. a range from warm summer sunshine to light snow flurries, I walk the wooded labyrinth at the south end of my community daily.  I witness the wonders of life in the activities of the flora and fauna that live there.  Birdsong, chirping crickets and the calls of peeper frogs are some of my favorite forms of music.  I also enjoy the shower of rain sprinkling over me through the tree canopy above the labyrinth.  In autumn, the vibrant colors in the leaves embrace me in a warm and cozy aura of love.  After a light dusting of snow, sunlight is reflected in rainbows on the soft carpet blanketing the path.

One day in October, I walked around the woods by the labyrinth until I captured an image of a leaf falling from a tree.  The leaf floated gracefully to the ground in the breezes ruffling the canopy of branches.  The grace of the leaf’s descent came from the grace with which the leaf let go of the life it knew as part of the tree branch it sprouted and grew from.  I imagine that the elder leaf bid her leaf siblings and nearby oak and maple friends a fond farewell as she let go of her hold on the branch and let herself descend to the ground.

Falling Leaf
A golden autumn leaf falling from a tree branch

Transformation

The elder leaf was ready to let go of the life she knew in order to become part of the earthy humus that feeds the tree she fell from.  She gave herself back to the earth as a gift.  She was ready to become food for the tree that gave her life, or a gift found by a wanderer and pressed in a favorite book.   She was ready to let go and give herself over to becoming part of a new reality without forethought of what that new reality would be. She was open to whatever she was called to be next.

Lying on the ground, she was the same leaf she had always been, but also more than what she once was.  Her earthy fragrance became like a balm that lifts the heart of the pilgrim who picks her up and breathes her in.  Her life became connected more closely than ever to the other leaves that had already fallen to the ground. Together, their lives ended.  They were ready to rest under the frost and snow that covered them throughout the winter.  They were at peace because they knew that that they would eventually become warm and glisten in the vernal sunlight as the wheel of the earth turned to the next place in her cycle of life.

I strive to be like the gracefully falling leaves of autumn.  I want to let die within the parts of me that don’t fit anymore in order to rise to a new me in the spring.  Winter gives us a transformational gestation time to reflect, renew our homes and ourselves, and emerge in the spring more fully the people we are meant to become.  But that is not the end.  Our lives are the journey, ever transformed by the moments we live among our fellow travelers of every species.  Let us be transformed by the darkest, coldest months, to rise to the warmth of spring.  Let each of us be a new life ready to blossom.

Frosted Fallen Leaves
Frosted fallen leaves waiting for the peaceful sleep of winter
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Finding Enchantment in our Modern World

Enchant

There are two definitions of the work Enchant, v. in the Webster’s New Riverside University Dictionary: 1. to cast a spell over;  2. to Charm and delight completely.

Have you every encountered a scene in nature that has enchanted you?  How about a person?  Or a pet?  Perhaps the place or person delights you and you have gathered some lovely memories around that place or person.  If you are enchanted by a pet, you probably love spending lots of time playing with your critter friend. No matter the source of your enchantment, memories of spending time with that source undoubtedly bring you joy and peace.

beautiful elsa eating a blackberry
Our late beloved pet hamster, Elsa, eating a blackberry

Gratitude and Well-Being

What are your sources of enchantment?  Take out a piece of paper and make a list.  How many are they?  Does writing about them and reading over your list lead to feelings of gratitude and well-being?  When you think about them, does time slow down or stop for you?  This happens to me when I write about aspects of my world that bring me a sense of enchantment.  Here are some of the things on my list:

  1. Working in my garden
  2. Reading an enthralling book
  3. Playing with my daughter
  4. Playing with our hamsters
  5. Walking around my neighborhood during an evening snowfall
  6. Spending time by the seashore
  7. Playing my musical instruments
  8. Walking a labyrinth

Please feel free to share some of your items as comments below.  I’d love to know about them.

tabletop-seaside-labyrinth
My tabletop seashore labyrinth, which I made for myself

Re-Enchanting Our World

I am reading a book by former priest and psychologist Thomas Moore, titled The Re-Enchantment of Everyday Life.  He is very Jungian in his perspective about how people form relationships with the world and how the modern world distracts us from developing deeper connections with nature, places we visit, animals, other humans, and the food we eat.  The materials of the homes we live in affect our sense of peace when we are there.  There could be too much of one element in a home, such as wood, and not enough of another, such as stone.  There could be too little color or other types of creative stimulation in our work spaces. Such imbalances increase our levels of anxiety and affect our well-being.  They detract from our health.  If we give ourselves a chance to tune into what we need, we can create a more balanced home with a few adjustments, and begin our journey back to a greater sense of wholeness.

Once we can find enchantment daily in our homes, we have the freedom and openness to find enchantment in who we encounter there, such as family and pets.  After that, we will be able to find enchantment in the places we pass through regularly, or visit occasionally, such as parks, schools, farm stands or local shops.  Are there places in your town that you find enchanting?  Are there favorite places that your family loves to visit?  Our family loves to visit North Conway, New Hampshire and Acadia National Park in Mane.  We also love to walk the trails of our local conservation land to our town library.

cosette-holding-new-sheep-puppet
My daughter holding a sheep puppet that I knitted for her and she decorated

We Are Enough

When we look around us, do we find an enchanting place that warms our heart?  If not, we can change that and make it more comfortable, more us.  Our homes are meant to reflect what we love most, what makes us feel truly “at home” in the world.  From that place we can have greater energy to meet the challenges that the world hands us, and respond with resilience and hope, perhaps sprinkled with playfulness.  We can be a healing presence to others.  Who we are is enough to light up the world.  May we bless each other with our unique light!

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Heartlights of Hope in the Darkness

th-marshmallows-roasting-over-a-roaring-bonfire
Marshmallows toasted over a roaring bonfire

Where does your glow come from?

We are now engulfed in the heart of winter.  The holiday season is winding down and the coldest days of the season are still before us. No matter where we live, the dark hours of the night still seem much longer than those of daylight.  What makes this season of cold and dark bearable for you?  How do you satisfy your longing for warmth and light?

We need the shadow play of dark and light that winter brings.  Only on the darkest nights do the lights on trees, bushes, yards and porches shine brighter.  The darkness commands us to slow down, bundle up, and face the blustery side of nature.  The time we spend inside gives us the opportunity to think about what we want to make happen in the new calendar year. The longer shadows help us focus our thoughts toward our center.  The light of candles is softer than electric illumination, and fits the reflective mood of the winter months.  One of the first things I do each day in December is to plug in the lights of our Christmas tree. As evening approaches, I light candles on safe surfaces.  The play of shadow and light that they create invites us into a spirit of mystery and anticipation.

Bonfires and Holiday Lights

I am fortunate to live in Central Massachusetts.  I live in an intentional community full of neighbors who love to gather around the hearth.  When the night sky is crisp and clear with starlight, we sometimes stoke bonfires in the bowl pit and roast marshmallows.  Neighbors also string lights on their porches and doors in anticipation of the holiday season.  Those lights bring cheer and inspire me to spend more time walking around outside before I curl up under a pile of blankets inside.

decorated-doorway-for-the-holidays
Neighbor’s door decorated for the holidays

Walking around our co-housing village this time of year is a magical time. My daily goal of 10,000 steps is more easily realized while walking the footpaths close to home.  I often greet neighbors who are also walking about and wave to children playing.  At dusk, the lights strung on porches and in doorways begin to sparkle brightly against the approaching nightfall.  They are beacons of hope and warmth when the wind picks up and the chill begins to freeze my limbs.  Yet, there are also fields nearby to step away into the darkness and appreciate the starlight of the winter constellations.

When I walk, my first destination is usually our community labyrinth on the other end of our village.  It is a wonder-filled place to walk and reflect.  It’s Baltic Wheel design and natural setting inspires moments of stillness and appreciation for nature’s wisdom.  The deep, dark colors of our conifers stand out as snow laces their branches and shrouds the earth around their roots.

snowy-labyrinth

Winter Garden Wonder

Another place quite close to us that we love to visit is Tower Hill Botanical Garden.  It was established in 1986 by the Worcester Horticultural Society and hosts a wide variety of programs for members and guests to forge a deeper kinship with nature.  The garden is a magical place all year round, in all seasons, but especially when it is lit up with many lights during the site’s Winter Re-Imagined festival.  Their outside and inside exhibits delight visitors of all ages.  I spent 2 evenings this month volunteering there and plan to return soon.

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Courtyard lit up during Winter Re-Imagined at Tower Hill Botanical Garden, Boylston, MA

Happy New Year

May all of your days in 2017 be filled with love, hope, and cheer.  May the warmth of holiday lights remind you that you are not alone, that no matter where you are you are thought of fondly.  May the spring bring warmer days to accomplish outside tasks and the summer shine on an abundant garden harvest.  May all of your dearest dreams come true!

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