Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Wonder of Birds

So it's been a while since my last post. I admit I got somewhat lost in the busyness of life which is what this blog is supposed to be all about avoiding. I neglected to stop and smell the flowers. Well supposedly this is the month to do so. After all, we have had enough rain.

But I have been missing the flowers of life. Those everyday blessings that make life interesting and worth living. That is, until a little bird awakened me. Lately, I have been noticing a little yellow bird in my neighborhood and flying around friend's neighborhoods as well. Yellow birds tend to stick out a little more than the common dove or robins that are ubiquitous this time of year.

I've never paid much attention to birds. I can name a few, but never really gave much more energy to the subject. Occasionally, I would pay attention when I would visit a bird sanctuary or zoo exhibit. I have always looked out for the first spring Robin after a long winter. I can recall a college professor romanticizing about watching birds with her husband and spotting a "Brown Thrasher" at her bird feeder.

One morning recently, I noticed 4-5 of these yellow canary like birds flying around and perching in my tree in the front of my house. So I decided I was going to find out what kind of bird this was. I observed the unique features and took a sharp mental note so as to remember when I did my research: Small and Yellow, Black feathers on the wings, black feathers on the head near the beak.

I've been observing the American Goldfinch. In my research I noted the lost art of being able to know and name your surroundings. I realized that I don't even know the name of the trees in my yard that the birds were perching on. I do know the names of many of the flowers planted around my house. There is a great joy in this practice. In the discovery of what was once unknown and taken for granted. I have enriched my experience of what is around me, all thanks to a brightly colored little bird.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A good cry

I lost my grandmother this morning. Leaving behind a huge hole in me.

My mother called to break the news and I broke down. I sobbed. I cried like I did when my grandfather (her husband) died, almost 15 years ago. This news tears at the very core of who I am, because some of who I am is from her. So many great memories I have in my life include her.

I am sad, but I am cleansed. The tears enable me to let go. Not of her so much as the junk that was building up in me. The sadness and pain and sorrow was released in that moment when I allowed myself to break down.

I think women understand this a lot better than men do. Traditionally, we tend to hold it in, but we end up depriving ourselves of a very basic function that we were created for.

I doubt I am finished crying over this. I will attend the funeral and that will no doubt be hard. But I know how good it will feel to let go knowing she is with our Father and the man she loved here on earth.

Until we meet again, Oooo.

("Oooo", pronounced EU-eu, was the name we used to refer to my grandmother)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Stop and Listen

When was the last time you were still and listened to music? Driving in the car doesn't count. Having your iPod connected to your ears while you were walking to class doesn't work either.

I mean listening at the point where that was the only thing being done. Not working, or exercising or doing chores...just listening. No distractions. Obviously, this requires at least standing or sitting. I recommend sitting - especially if you plan to listen to more than one piece of music. Symphonic movements might require sitting, so yes, just sit...and listen.

Pay attention to the words (if there are any). Follow the bass line. Savor the Oboe or Cello. Detect the ambient noise layered on the track. Just listen. Be still, quiet the mind, remove all distractions and take a moment to enjoy.

This is a reason why I like vinyl records. Vinyl is not a portable medium (unless you're the Green Hornet). Turntables require you to submit to a fixed location to hear the music. Now you could clean the room the music was playing in and still enjoy the music, but I doubt you would have really listened to it. You have to stop what you're doing.

So get out your favorite record or CD or Mp3 and sit down. Put the kids to bed, turn off your phone and listen... enjoy.