Two Buckets Full

An empty kindling bucket lead to a lesson in mindfulness this morning. It didn’t take long to remember how attentive and alert you have to be when your splitting kindling with a hand ax. I never lost awareness of where my fingers were or the steadiness of the piece of wood that the ax was about to come down on. After filling two kindling buckets I was darn near a Buddhist monk!

It only takes a few minutes of mindful motion to feel a peaceful energetic recharge. Not only does it balance the mind and body but it can make you more aware of when you are becoming imbalanced.

An empty life can fill with meaning as painlessly as two kindling buckets with a mindful practice. Maybe it’s time to ask yourself like the wonderful children’s book, “Have you filled your bucket today?”

You don’t live life standing still. Witness its sacred motion and it won’t pass you by.

Pie Potential

Early in its life a rabbit nibbled away the tender bark at the trunk base. Exposing a swath of naked wood, the length of a fully extended rabbit body nearly all around the tiny trunk. I did my best to care for the wound. No apples this year but she lived.

A late Spring cold snap brought snow. Delicate blooms fragrant and supple the day before were now vacant of scent. Frozen stiff. Some leaves anxious to begin again followed the sun’s subtle cue to unfold. The cold hardness of the world nipped the new growth. When touched the scarred tips disintegrated into a brown powder. The potential to taste pie crumbled like the dry brown leaf tip pressed between my fingers. I witnessed the vulnerability of opening. I witnessed how not to let the hardness of the world stop you from growing. No apples this year but she lived.

By all appearances last summer seemed to be the year we’d taste pie! July brought pests of biblical proportions, hell-bent on devouring every last tree in the orchard. The August sun melted summer’s green into the earth. Each day the mother tree struggled to continue her simple life. Beneath her laid the enormity of her sacrifice to do just that. Dozens of immature apples carpeted the ground. To sacrifice is to make sacred. I knew one day I’d harvest apples. The only question was when. The horses appreciated the taste of apple. No apples for pie this year but she lived.

Last week I made two pies with apples from the Prairie Spy tree in our orchard. As I peeled and sliced the sweetness of life in my hands, I reflected on the tree’s many teachings over the years. What I saw was pie. Potential In Everything life takes from us to give us what we need to grow.

And that first bite…heaven never tasted so good.

Strange Love

I’m subbing this week for a 4-year old kindergarten driver while he visits his son out of state. I drove a 4-K route for several years but gave it up last year. My full life overflowed and priorities got shifted. I do love substituting though! Why wouldn’t I? Their sweet wisdom gave me enough material for a whole chapter in my book! Little souls possess a superpower to simplify wisdom.

The teacher has been consistent in her strong suggestion to the little ones to make good choices and behave on the bus while the regular driver is absent. I guess they figured the best possible way to insure staying in good graces with the teacher was to compliment me as she observed them loading on the bus. And compliment me they did! As they filed on I got complimented on every possible body feature and item of clothing I had on. Not a single flaw from the grey hair on my head to my unpolished toenails.

“Ms. Angie, I really like your earrings”. They were simple silver hoops.

“Ms. Angie, I really really like your hair”. My hair was styled by the wind rushing through an open window. Most of it no longer contained in a ponytail.

“Ms. Angie, I really really really like your shoes”. I’m pretty sure they can’t see my feet.

Running out of complimentary options the tail end of the line started to say, Ms. Angie, I love you. Aw, the crème de la crème of compliments! Those already seated had to tell me that they loved me too. Tiny voices in a wild stampede shouted out,  “I love you!” until the teacher reined them in.

Some might think the “love” was meaningless coming from children I hardly knew but the gesture touched my heart. The meaning is in the power of the super feeling to lift spirits up, up and away—together. Breaking through the barriers of the mind. I guess you could say love is our superpower. Maybe we just don’t fully understand the capabilities of love connection power. Even a stranger. Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound! Love connects us for infinity and beyond.

Feel love. Love the feeling. It’s hate’s kryptonite.

Kiss and Tell

Over the years, as my writing expanded, so did thoughts of my freshman year Creative Writing teacher, Ms. Mary Manning. She was the person that inspired me to look at the outside world with words and the inside of me with wonder. The passing thoughts of her began to rest and collect in my heart as the possibility of publication grew closer. I told myself if I ever got published I was going to write her a thank you letter along with a copy of my book. Exactly one year ago today, Sweet Wisdoms was released by Shanti Arts Publication. With a little PI work by our school district’s superintendent, Ms. Manning’s, contact information was found. As promised, a copy of my book  with a thank you letter placed between its pages was sent off to Ms. Manning. Included in the letter was my contact information in hopes that we could get reacquainted.

Soon after, I received an e-mail from Ms. Manning. It began with, “Ah, Angie you kissed my heart.” Her voice in the email was just as I remembered, a rhythmic soft tone, calm and supportive. I could picture her rising from her desk and wiping her hands down the front of her skirt to smooth the wrinkles. Something she did out of habit every time she wore a skirt. Her mannerisms matched her classic beauty, make-up never overdone; clothes complimenting her figure but also chosen for their comfort. Her hands bore the evidence of her summer job cleaning hotel rooms. She was a timeless beauty inside and out.

Through our correspondence I learned she married late in life. She and her husband are snowbirds, spending their winters in Florida and their summers in Michigan. Once they were back in Michigan for the summer, we planned a reunion. She ended the e-mail with this; “I have always believed people come in and out of our lives for a reason. I am most grateful for this gift”.

So am I.

In late July of 2017, I headed to Kingsford, MI with high school yearbooks in hand to reunite and reminisce with Ms. Manning. I arrived at 11:30am and departed when the night’s cool air drifted through the screen door. As you can imagine our conversation’s path twisted and turned through 40 year old memories, skipping occasionally to wonders about the future. Such a delight to be in this beautiful soul’s company again!

I wish you all have an opportunity to “kiss a heart” in the eloquent words of Mary. Gratitude is the gift-wrap around our hearts. When thankfulness is expressed, we open ourselves and the world to receive the heart’s gift of tenderness, a gift that reaches through all time and never expires.

Your heart should be kissed and often, it makes the world soften.