Reflecting on Life, Death and the Gift of Blogging

Day 240

I stayed up too late last night and found myself sleeping in this morning. Days like this make me so thankful to be retired. I walked outside to look at the progress in the garden before it gets too hot. We have so many small tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers that I hope will survive the insects and the summer heat.

I plucked a single ripe strawberry off the vine and bit into it. It was warm and so flavorful. Luscious! Normally birds would be darting in and out of the feeders, but while our family was here last week, a black bear decided to dine at the bird feeders. The result was a completely destroyed pole and three smashed feeders – our very favorite feeders of course.

Such is life here. We normally put the feeders out around 8:00 a.m. and bring them in around 7:00 p.m. before it gets dark. When bears look for food, they do not worry much about time of day so we are constantly on the watch. We still have a few feeders in the back but it will be a while before we sink money into replacing the expensive feeders.

We have seen a few king snakes and rat snakes around. We leave them alone because they eat the mice and some of the venomous snakes. They can be quite startling if you are not fond of snakes.

Last night my dear friend had to have her golden retriever put to sleep. I am heartbroken for her. Her dogs have been her beloved and close companions, loved and cared for as all animals deserve to be.

Being surrounded by the ever present reminders of life and death, I found myself reflecting on blogging. I had private blogs back when I was active on LiveJournal. This was a sacred place closed to all but a few close friends and one of my sisters. We shared a lot there. Now that my sister has passed, I keep my LiveJournal account so I can go back and revisit the things she wrote.

After that journey, I started a WordPress blog back in 2010 on the heels of a dear friend’s death. My first post was entitled ‘In Search of Signs of Life’. Funny how threads resurface in our lives. It was a place where I could process my feelings and thoughts around life and death. I wrote a good bit there as my sisters fought their battles with cancer. I have not written there in a long time although the blog is still up.

I started this blog 240 days ago as part of a goal of blogging every day. I think I have found myself over this course time. I am able to reflect without being absorbed. I can be empathetic without becoming depressed. I see and acknowledge what is not healthy for me and move on. I am constantly seeking to expand my experiences and knowledge and I have found blogging an excellent way to do so.

This morning I was honored when a fellow blogger (dare I say friend?) Pete recommended my blog to his followers. I was honored to think he found something of substance in what I share here. Thank you again, Pete.

I appreciate all who take the time to come by and read my blog. It means a lot. Blogging has certainly enriched my life and I have learned so much about us as people. We are much more alike than we sometimes realize. And as people, we need each other. Bridging cultural differences and discovering commonality is a gift. One that I will treasure for a lifetime.


A Rare Night Out

Day 239

IMG_0042My husband has been looking forward to going to the North Carolina Arboretum for their new ArborEvenings on Thursday evenings. After a long day staring at the computer screen, I was ready for a break.

Tonight they had music by a local duo, Liz and Elizabeth. We were looking forward to a night to just get away for a bit.

It was a warm evening, and the mosquitos were out in full force as were the gnats. The Japanese Iris in the collage below is covered with little tiny insects, too.

The Arboretum is a wonderful collection of gardens and trails just south of Asheville. During ArborEvenings, the gates are open until 9:00 pm and the gardens are lit. The last Thursday of every month they have live music.

We walked around the garden and then went up toward the education center where they had drinks and light food for purchase and of course music. We grabbed a BBQ sandwich and a bottle of water and just listened to music for a while.

Tonight’s event was sponsored by Asheville Beer Week (which I never knew existed). We bought bottled water to drink rather than opting for beer or wine since we were driving. I got a kick out of the marketing on the labels of the bottled water.

Liz and Elizabeth were really enjoyable. I liked their melodious harmonies and loved the violin and guitar together. I am attaching a clip from their YouTube channel, but I enjoyed their music so much more live. It was a nice eclectic mix of country, folk and their own brand of acoustic music. I even found some new music I had never heard before and that is always a plus.

All in all, it was a good night to get out for a bit. It was one of those nights we just needed a few minutes to just walk through the gardens, enjoy the flowers and listen to some music. Not a bad way to spend a late spring evening and something we need to do more often.




Escaping Negativity

Image Courtesy of

Day 238

I was thinking about how negativity is a bit like gravity. It’s a pull that is difficult if not impossible to resist. Lately, it seems that negativity is so prevalent that we are almost not aware of it — much like gravity. It just is.

So, I thought I’d be smart and look up to see how far from earth’s surface I would need to be to escape the gravitational pull. Funny, though, that’s not an easy question to answer. I thought I could read about it and rephrase it here, but I cannot. It’s not easy to explain. There are formulas and free falling and zero gravity to consider. All too much for my brain right now.

But I did realize just how much the pull toward negativity is a lot like gravity. It’s heavy. It pulls us in, often without us even realizing it exists. Escaping the pull is not easy and telling someone how to do it is not easy either.

That’s where the similarity ends, though. You see, I think we can resist negativity. We can experience something difficult without being pulled into a spiral of negativity. We can have empathy without being caught up in the difficulty of the situation. We can tell our stories without letting them swallow us up.

We can observe the hard and challenging parts of life and choose to take positive steps to head those things off. I will not say it is always easy, but it truly is possible. So many big things are swirling around us constantly — many can be negative — but to get caught in the pull of that spiral means it will be hard to get out.

Life is a series of situations about which we can decide how to react. I’m not saying that hard things do not bring sadness, but we do not need to live there. We can sit with the feeling and then let it pass. We can acknowledge the sadness, without being consumed by it.

Ever have one of those friends who is just not happy unless they are miserable? Notice how they want to bring you down with them? We all know misery loves company, but why do we allow ourselves to get caught up?

All of this jumbled thought started early this morning when I watched a video on FaceBook by my friend, Kim Halsey. It was the best 3 minutes and 14 seconds I had spent in a long time.


Slowly Catching Up

Day 237

I am slowly catching up on comments and blogs, but it will take me some time. I have missed my morning ritual and chatting with my blogging friends.

Emma L. Barratt, Nick J. Davis, ASMR Map, CC BY 4.0

When my daughter was here, she was talking to me about Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR). I think I have heard the term, but never really explored the meaning.

She uses ‘tapping’ videos to help her relax. YouTube is full of videos like the ones below. ASMR can simulate the tingling feeling many people feel when they hear certain sounds or experience close touch. The idea is to wear EarPods so you can hear the sounds moving from left to right.

Last night I tried listening to different videos to see if any helped me relax or sleep. That was a big no. I guess we each have our own things that bring us peace.

On my way to visit my daughter-in-law, I was rear-ended at a stop light. Luckily no one was injured and the bumper was just a little marred. The man who hit me was very apologetic and concerned about me. We exchanged information and then I was on my way.

No real updates on my daughter-in-law. More tests to come and still waiting on results from others. She is amazing and strong and such a fighter.


Life is a Whirlwind

Day 236

This past week has been a whirlwind of the most magical kind. We have enjoyed 4 days with our daughters and our granddaughter. Saturday I had an unexpected surprise birthday celebration in my honor. We had five of our children, four of our grandchildren and three nieces here. It was pure chaos of the best kind.

Hubby did all the cooking – hamburgers, hotdogs, and homemade chili. My granddaughter made me a homemade coconut cake and brownies. Everyone sang happy birthday while she accompanied on the ukelele.

The little ones ran around the house laughing and having the best time. The older grandkids sat back and watched and laughed at the antics of the little ones. Cousins met for the first time and there was sleeping off and on throughout the afternoon. It was the best of days.

Our daughters and granddaughter left yesterday morning and after a very long day, arrived safely back home. After a quick turnover of the guest room, another daughter and two of our other granddaughters came and spent the night. It was so nice to have them with us to just hang out and enjoy one another’s company.

Sadly, my daughter-in-law was admitted to the hospital last week and is still undergoing testing. I plan to drive over to see her tomorrow. We missed having her and my son and my other two grandchildren here, of course, but her health is what is important. She has been such a trooper under very difficult circumstances.

My niece has also undergone some stressful medical tests so we are all waiting for those results as well. It was a week that makes you realize just what is important in this life we get to live.

God bless my amazing blended family. These are the most important gifts in my life. We remain prayerful and hopeful knowing we are certainly blessed.