ORANGES & MORE

On my solitary walks around my city neighborhood I keep my eyes open for beauty. Yesterday, I decided to photograph some of the beauty that surrounds me. Today and for the rest of the week I will share some of these captured visions. Granted, they do say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so I do hope that you see what I see.

One of the most striking things I run into on my walks are citrus trees. I absolutely immediately get captured by the dark green leaves and the bright orange spheres that pop from the leafy background.

On a lonely block, there is one lonely orange tree. I had come to notice there were always some oranges laying on the street. The resting place from their short fall from limb to pavement. Usually, I just walk by, gazing at the colors on the ground, counting how many have let go of their branch and ventured on to the harshness of the street below them. Then, always looking up at the tree, scanning to see how many are still holding on.

On this day, I could not help myself and had to stop. I could not bare seeing these four lonely spheres spread out on the cracked concrete. This was not to be their bittersweet end. No. Instead, the teacher in me (and the artist in me) picked them up and carefully arranged them together, at a safe social distance (the distance was also to allow car tires to drive over them and not crush them!), all in a row. I had to move them, line them up and hopefully make a passerby smile and think the next time they walked or drove by this lonely block.

These oranges, now placed across a crosswalk, were no longer scattered, they seemed like they were headed in a certain direction. I often feel like these fallen oranges. Scattered at times, but when I sense and find direction, the possibilities of where I am headed are endless. All I have to do is stop, look around me, find the path, and mindfully heads towards it.

“It is not the perfection of one’s life but the direction of a life that provides evidence of regeneration.”

John Macarthur

21-22-23

My oldest daughter will soon be turning 21. 
She is a child of the Earth, born on April 22.
She was in my womb when I was 23.
She was born at the end of a millennium.
Yet it seems like yesterday when I first looked into her eyes.
Her gaze, fixed onto everything around her, even to this day.
She observes, she is quiet, she processes her thoughts.
She loves written words, art, knitting, and peonies. 
She is kind and patient to everyone that crosses her path.
She is sensitive, yet strong and independent.
Her soul is much older than her age.
My oldest daughter will soon be turning 21.
She is a child of the Earth, born on April 22.
She was in my womb when I was 23.
She teaches me lessons everyday.
Quiet, observant, sensitive and kind.
Witty, funny and intelligent.
Wiser than her years, yet humble down to the core.
She had to travel long distances to be with us now.
Her two decades on this Earth disrupted abruptly.
We will be celebrating her milestone together.
My oldest daughter will soon be turning 21.
She is a child of the Earth, born on April 22.
She was in my womb when I was 23...but she is here now.
In times like these, this planet is lucky to have souls like hers.

 

JUST BREATHE

Take a deep breath. Feel the air fill your lungs, and slowly let it go. To breathe. To live.

Now hold your breath. Feel the weight of not being able to let go. To not breathe. To not live.

Breathing. An act, in its majority, taken for granted. Yet still allowing us to live, day after day, sadly, sometimes without intention.

Now, what if something was sent your way that took away the ability to live?

What if there was an invisible element, that wreaked havoc around the planet and caused everyone to stop for a moment in time.

To stop going to work. To stop commuting in crowded transport. To stop traveling from here to there. To stop getting lost in crowds. To stop thinking of just yourself and the small circle around you. To stop doing. To stop.

What if the most severe effects of this invisible element, were literally, To. Make. You. Stop. Breathing.

To impede your lungs from taking a full breath? To drown you. To lose the ability to live.

Yet, there is a way to get back things you have lost. All you have to do is breathe. Stop in this moment in time and put everything aside. Just for a moment. Breathe. Think of what you have lost in your day to day life. What you have taken for granted. What you are doing without intention. What is drowning you. What is impeding you to live.

Take a deep breath. Feel the air fill your lungs, and slowly let it go. Breathe. Never take it for granted. From now on, breathe intentionally. Live intentionally. Just Breathe.

PHYSICALLY, I AM HERE

Physically, I am here.  Mentally, I am far, far away.  
I cannot help my mind from going astray. 

It travels long distances and short.
To places of all sort.

It takes me to my classroom.
A place where young minds bloom.

It takes me to my favorite place to dine.
Sharing laughter and a glass of wine.

It takes me on Sunday strolls.
Surrounded by many happy souls.

It travels to my homeland.
I smell the sea and touch the sand.

It travels to a place where I find my peace. 
Where all of my troubles cease.

It travels deep within my heart.
Always a good place to start.

To understand why physically I am here, but mentally I am far, far away.
And cannot help my mind from going astray. 

DEAR EXTROVERT

It is understandable that you might be going through an extra difficult time at the moment. Your energy comes from being surrounded by others. You are the life of the party. You are the loud voice at the concert. You are the laughter at a restaurant. Crowds do not scare you. Noise does not bother you. Yet now you are being asked to stay indoors. Away from crowds. Away from noise. Away from what gives you energy. This can be a harrowing ordeal for you, but there is good news.

In your solitude and silence you will find energy as well. A very different kind. A very special kind. You will come to realize you are far stronger than you ever realized. You will notice that your voice can still be heard, first by you, then by others. You will begin to feel an energy you might have never felt before. A different kind of energy. You will begin to feel balanced.

With this attained balance, once you resurface to the crowds and the noise, your energy will reach farther than it has before. Your energy will make so many others be the life of the party along with you. Your voice will make so many others at the concert sing along with you . Your laughter at the restaurant will be heard and replicated.

So, hang in there. Even in your confinement, keep singing, keep dancing, keep laughing. For you will see, dear extrovert, that after this period of solitude comes to its end, your energy will reach even the likes of me, your dear friend, the introvert.

MY HAND

My right hand, the one I use and need for everything. Over a decade ago I was diagnosed with focal hand dystonia, or severe writer’s cramp, in my right hand. I have tried many different treatments, always keeping away from extreme measures. Recently, I am trying something a bit different. Part of this treatment involves me thinking of what my dystonia has taken away from me, but also, what it has given me. So, I decided to write about them here.

There are three main aspects in my life that have been affected by my dystonia. First, it has taken away my fine motor skills. This affects everything, but what I miss the most is my handwriting and art skills. Second, it has taken away strength in my hand. This mainly affects actions like holding a glass, a plate, I drop things a lot. Third, it has taken away relaxed muscles. The muscles in my lower neck, shoulders and especially my entire right arm are in constant spasms. Fine motor skills, strength, relaxed muscles. All taken away.

Yet what has this dystonia given me? First, I have learned that I have an amazing left hand. I have been able to learn to use it to the point where I might be ambidextrous. Having the fine motor skills taken from right hand, gave me the opportunity to realize I had a powerful tool right next to me, literally. Funny, how sometimes we don’t see solutions that are sitting right next to us. Second, I have come to realize that my right hand needs the left one. It does not have to hold things on its own. Strength doesn’t only come from one place. Interesting, how sometimes we think we need to be strong on our own. Third, my tense muscles have forced me to seek for relief. To get a massage, to meditate, to rest. Sadly, sometimes we do not take the time to do so.

So, yes, my dystonia has taken some things away from me, but what it has given me is far deeper. My dystonia has made me realize that the answer sometimes lies within us. My dystonia has made me realize that together we are stronger. My dystonia has made me realize the power of self-care. All important gifts we can give ourselves, no matter what.

ROLL WITH ME

Deep within, layer after soft scented layer, you will find me.
In times like these, you must reach me slowly, carefully.
Take your time, enjoy each one of my layers.
The day will come when my covering will be gone.
You will finally see me.

Once you reach me, don't disregard me.
I know my white, delicate sheets were far more attractive and useful to you.
Yet so many make the mistake of not even giving me a chance.
Don't make that mistake.
See me for what I can become.

My coarse, brown exterior is strong.
My cylindrical shape is useful.
I am adaptable.
I am practical.
I am the inside of  your toilet paper roll.


Use me to feed the birds.
Use me to start the grill.
Use me to plant a seed.
Use me to organize your mess.
Use me to entertain your children who are stuck at home.

Remember, the day will come when you will find me.
Some of you might have found me already.
If you have disregarded me before, I forgive you.
You have dozens (some of you hundreds) of opportunities to make it up to me.
I am the inside of your toilet paper roll. 


CORONAISSANCE

The Renaissance period in our world’s history, is often referred to as a “rebirth“. It was a time that was characterized by many lasting changes in politics, society, the arts and education. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, “it was primarily a time of the revival of Classical learning and wisdom after a long period of cultural decline and stagnation.”

Interestingly enough, the Renaissance apparently began its earliest stages in an “intellectual movement known as Humanism”. Humanism studied many areas of life, and one was that it looked “forward to a rebirth of a lost human spirit and wisdom.”  Humanists wanted “to inspire a new confidence in the possibilities of human thought and creations.” Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Galileo and Copernicus are just some of the great human minds that came to light during this rebirth. Also interestingly enough, this movement started in, yes, you guessed it, Italy.

Italy. A country currently in lockdown, isolation mode. A country which is sharing their wisdom, with its massive spread of videos asking the world to learn from their mistakes. A country, whose government, amidst their chaos, inspires confidence in their citizens in acts of solidarity and national pride. A country, whose own citizens raise their own spirits by singing and dancing on their balconies once a day. A country who is proving they have allowed their human spirit to be re-born.

The world seems to have come to a crucial moment in its history. If we look closely, we might be seeing a new version of the Renaissance, of a rebirth. This new moment in our history, this “Coronaissance” is prompting rapid changes, globally. Country leaders are being forced to work together and take drastic measures to protect citizens. All around the world, education and its students are getting ready to try new platforms of learning. Society, as a whole, is being asked to be in isolation for a while, yet luckily, we can still be connected to each other. And amongst all of these changes, we are seeing that this “change is unleashing people’s creative energy”.

If you know your history, many eras came after the Renaissance. The Enlightenment, The Scientific Revolution, The Romantic Era, The Industrial Revolution, Great Depressions, World Wars, Cold Wars, Information Age, etc. From each one of these eras, humanity learns something. The key is to retain that knowledge, in order to build from it and not make the same mistakes over again.

So, what will you take away from this “Coronaissance”? How will you change? What will be the knowledge you will retain, in order to help humanity in the eras to come? How will you be re-born?

THE STORY BEHIND THINGS

When life includes continuous moves, one learns to declutter and to downsize. One learns that it only takes a few things to turn your new place of residence into your home. These things are the ones that have a story behind them. Where ever you take them, where ever you place them, they carry that story with them. I own some of these things.

Like the art hanging off my current walls, which, in its majority, are creations of talented family and friends. Every time I look at them, they spark a memory of these special artists.

Like my very small collections of owls, crosses and miniature chairs, each made up of only three or four. Each unique, like no other, and each one reminding me of all the different places they came from.

Like my blue glass vase, that contains two long-stemmed glass flowers, one red and one yellow, which once belonged to my grandmother. These three glass items, placed together, take me back to her home and all of the memories we created there.

Like my antique birdcage, which is a perfect shade of faded teal blue, bought at an outdoor Mexican antique-market. I can still feel the warm weather of that day.

Then there are new things. Like my new colorful bag from India, made of bright blue fabric embroidered with yellow, red, green and white threads. Minute silver mirrors, placed carefully here and there, surrounding a majestic elephant. My sister gave me this bag as a Christmas gift. Her sister-in-law brought lots of bags from her trip to India. This was one of them. I was lucky enough one day to have lunch with her and listen to her tell the story behind how she got this bag (and the others) on her unforgettable trip to India. Her adventurous spirit and humor brought tears of laughter and a sense of awe. Every time I use this bag, I am complimented. And every time I am complimented, I am so happy to tell the story behind this particular thing.

I am glad my life has included continuous moves, for it has allowed me to surround myself with stories, and not just things.

A DOZEN + ONE

There are a dozen + one reasons I love and admire my father. 1) I could not have asked for the coolest dad…2) He gave my sister’s and I an amazing life growing up…3) He taught me to be open-minded…4) He taught me to be giving to those less fortunate than us…5) He made watching sports, ANY sport, so much fun…6) He loves to cook, and good food, and good wine…7) He passed on to me his love of music…ALL music…8) He protected us and passed his courage onto us during times of war…9) He introduced me to the world of technology, always being up to date with everything…10) He adores his grandchildren… 11) He taught me that making mistakes is ok…12) He is ALWAYS there for us…and one more: He saves sea turtles. For these dozen and one reasons, and many more, I love and admire my father, who was born on this day, some years ago, March 13 and I am lucky he is still with us, so we can enjoy at least a dozen and one more birthdays!