Recently I was asked if I would be able to accompany a friend for the day as she received chemotherapy. I immediately responded yes and made provisions in my schedule and other responsibilities to insure I would be available both physically and mentally. This was a first for me and for that I am so very grateful. The number of women, and men, who find themselves in the care of an oncologist is astounding—and if not for themselves, then for loved ones, be they friends or family.
However, this writing is not intended to be a story about cancer nor the ravage that such an illness can reek. This post is about friendship and the poignant lesson I was reminded of so graciously in the face of something so dastardly. The lesson being; that hope and insight can be born of such difficult trials is a tribute to the value of human interaction and connectedness. Upon reflection, the realization came to me, that the day we spent together had less to do about illness and more to do about love. The inspiration for this falls upon my friend, who, displayed exquisite dignity and charm in this difficult arena. An extremely courageous example was demonstrated, which will accompany me for my lifetime. She unknowingly granted me the gift of observing the astounding power of amazing grace.
We laughed a lot—some jokes were slightly off-color, as a way to deal with the realities of some of the physical challenges of having poisons pumped into your body.
As we were sitting in our small treatment room, during one of our planned-individual-laptop-times (this was preplanned, to give us a respite from speaking non-stop) my friend began to read an article to me which spoke about women maintaining good health. (So much for the verbal pause!) To paraphrase, the article stated that the best thing a woman can do for her health is to have female friendships. The point was made that women require this connectedness and the resulting communication of their shared female path, that only other women truly understand. I found the timing of her reading this to me to be very symbolic as we were, quite literally, in the midst of her striving to become well and enjoying friendship while doing so.
Being a minimal girlie-girl I have always had only a few female friends, this is what I told myself; that I felt uncomfortable with idle chat and discussions of clothing, hair and make-up. That of course, was just one of those fibs I had made up and told myself at some point in my younger years and never bothered to review or reconsider. There existed so many errors in that thought—clearly one of the largest being—that I had created a stereotypical falsehood regarding women. Another untruth; which I also fully believed and assisted me in further empowering my few-female-friends-strategy, was that I was fiercely independent. None of these thoughts were accurate—the cause of the discomfort with female friendships was my lack of the understanding for the value of these special friendships…and encouraging all of this inaccurate thinking, was my default setting—an inability to trust. I had conspired a belief to protect myself from the possibility of being hurt. (Not amazing grace.)
While in my thirties, two women who were in my life at the time, and who were the age that I am now, each shared with me words of wisdom. Which in my arrogant youth I promptly dismissed. One of these women had an adage which at the close of every discussion regarding a worry or concern, always ended with a summing up statement, “As long as you have your health.” As a completely healthy young woman with no visible signs of aging and clearly no ability to listen to someone older, I internally rolled my eyes. There is the possibility—I actually outwardly rolled my eyes. Yes, I was that obnoxious at times. The other bit of wisdom, gifted and refused by me was, “As you grow older your friendships with women will become of paramount importance, nurture those relationships” Neither of these words of wisdom resonated with me and I filed them away, as a form of a lecture—and one that I did not need. I was incorrect.
These perceptions, were my shortcomings, my immaturity and my lack of experience of having lived a life. As a woman now, I have been enlightened to the meaning of friendships with women and how incomplete my life is—without them. While in my twenties, thirties and even my forties the fulfillment that I sought, I believed, would come in the form of a career, my appearance (hey, at least I admit it, I’m being brave here!) a husband and children. Okay, fine, the house and clothes counted too. Girlfriends and health were under-appreciated and if something needed to fall to the wayside, well, it would have to be one of those two. Family of origin seemed to fall somewhere in the confusing category of love, obligation and guilt—which is another subject—let’s not go there! I also must honestly admit, spirituality was a distant consideration, if at all, as I attempted to create the elements that would bring meaning to my life. Silly girl.
It is incredible where fifty-five years can bring someone, well at least me. Perhaps I am a slow learner or my foundation was inappropriately set up, but today, my value system is forever altered. Spirituality, health and female friendships have now boldly and beautifully surfaced onto the criteria list of the requirements for feeling fulfilled and whole. And, a feeling of connectedness—being understood and the desire—the need—to not feel so alone—on this journey of the life as a woman. The previous list was not replaced or eliminated, I still require those things to feel complete—to varying degrees. The physical (my own and objects) has found it’s proper balance—my awakening is the realization that my previous list was deficient. I am becoming more and more aware of the versatility of womanhood, the complexity of being female and I am choosing to embrace this. With the help of my friends.
The day after I had gone on the chemotherapy outing with my friend, I received an email from another friend with whom I had lost contact with, the timing was clearly not lost on me. After six months of neither of us reaching out to one another—she had taken the risk, the leap that I had chosen to take a pass on. Seems I still require some maturing. I asked myself if the last six months without communicating with her, without sharing our thoughts, concerns and experiences had been better. And that is when I was granted the privilege of experiencing amazing grace.
Friendships with women are vitally important and an aspect of what is necessary for Well—Being. Now that I can relax and not take myself so seriously (all of the time) I am free to enjoy the pleasure of asking a friend what eyeliner works well, discuss if we should just go grey—or to teach me how they managed to be so very courageous, so absolutely magnificent and amazingly graceful in the face of such difficulty.
I am grateful I continue to grow-up.
A morning excursion to The Pond at Rooster Ridge led me to today’s post and to the clarity I was seeking.
My desire to have a voice, through my writing, is based upon the intention of speaking authentically from my heart—as I hope to offer some measure of comfort to others. This journey, requires that while I speak from my heart, I simultaneously try my very best to connect with others and in doing so, take the subsequent risk of reaching out. This two-fold combination of goals had brought me to a place of confusion, which resulted in me recently questioning the direction of what I choose to write about within this blog forum.
There seems to be so many voices talking to us, at all times—quite honestly, the sounds feel more like shouts, yells and demands. Our society is in the midst of constant multi-media-communication—all screaming (tweeting, facebooking, pinning, tumbling) 24/7 for our attention! And while doing so, make the claim—that should we manage to attract some of that precious commodity to ourselves—there will be a big pay-off. Fame—with the-assumed-connected-fortune seems to be the golden ring de jour.
In all of this noise, our own voice, at times, can become—a barely audible sound.
To attempt to regain the volume control of my own voice, I visited the quiet and the motion-filled-stillness of falling water and swimming fish at The Pond at Rooster Ridge. As I studied the water the answer gently ebbed towards me—and when this answer came—it arrived in the form of a question, accompanied with a visual, symbolic illustration. It seems, I always need pictures to understand.
“What would you like your voice to do?”
The illustration presented before me was the expanding and echoing wave-rings created on the surface of the pond by the falling water as it spilled into the pond. I saw the symbolic similarity of drops of words, the gentle showering of a voice, a sprinkling of kind thoughts and good intentions—peacefully falling, gracefully impacting and echoing outward further and further and further.
With that question and illustration before me, I was once again reminded—what it is I wanted my voice to do, to say. And, I also knew it didn’t have anything to do with “selling product, increasing traffic or obtaining sponsors.” The marketable and tangible possibilities available either would or would not occur. The attention I gave to those aspects—needed to float away in this clear and cleansing water.
The connectedness I was hoping for, praying for, also, was not my task nor within my power to make happen. My work was to speak—and to do so with clarity. Perhaps for me, considering and managing multiple goals was undermining that effort or better yet, my focus.
My intention of writing my book, Lessons from the Trumpet Vine, as well as maintaining this blog and the subsequent posts is to offer hope. To inspire others to seek peacefulness and to experience a feeling of safety, calm or knowing. Success would be measured by being able to give a gift to others—granting them to be able to feel a brief respite, a rekindling or a gentle reminder of what truly serves our heart and soul. And, through that, to be encouraged to see the simple joy available to all of us.
As I gazed at the water, the fish came to the surface to feed and as they nibbled amidst wave-rings—new echos were created by their presence. I was further reminded that our purpose is to place drops of love, through words or actions upon our pond. And in doing so, the echos multiply and then continue to reach further and further and further.
I believe, each comforting voice that is heard, every word of compassion that is spoken and every kindness which is demonstrated—impacts our pond—with ripples of love.
With the arrival of Spring at Rooster Ridge we are granted the gift of being witness to the bountiful birth of nature. We have discovered tucked into the woody vines of The Trumpet Vine and within the boughs of an Evergreen Tree—Robin Nests with magnificent blue eggs. Earlier in the spring—hidden in the grass beneath a soft blanket of rabbit fur we discovered a nest of baby bunnies with their eyes still closed.
The Mothers stand guard and attempt to protect these nests from harm while simultaneously needing to care for themselves. In past Springs, we have come across abandoned nests and we have also been brought baby bunnies which had not survived the springtime. At times, as we watch large black crows hunt within the branches looking for the nests and eggs which are contained therein, there is the heartfelt temptation to hurriedly gather the eggs and somehow protect them—to assist in this process that nature has planned.
Wisdom and acceptance gracefully steps in—as we have learned—that nature truly knows and understands much more than we, and we must trust in the process of life.
With the springtime of great abundance, hope and the multitude of gifts offered to us in observing nature, we reflect upon The Lesson of Trust from my book, Lessons from the Trumpet Vine.
With these thoughts in mind and with my sincere intention of serving the highest good, I offer to you an excerpt from; The Lesson of Trust.
With my heartfelt love,
Lessons from the Trumpet Vine
Written & Illustrated by Jeri L. Glatter
The Lesson of Trust
Please understand that, as you travel your life’s path, you can never know every element of a lifetime nor ever fully understand the actions of others. There is bound to be hurt. There is no perfect protection to be achieved. Striving to completely and always protect yourself is a futile task. There are lessons to be learned as you travel, and we ask you to work hard to learn them when they are presented to you. Equally as important is to accept the knowledge that there will still be unlearned lessons when you reach your last day. If you believe you will meet with only success, or that you will find yourself at the conclusion of this lifetime with the ability to be unhurt, or that all lessons will be learned, then you are preparing for disappointment. Your days will be marked by fatigue if you attempt to live a life without experiencing hurt, like the child who promises not to cry and falls asleep exhausted with a tear stained face.
We note your intense and diligent study of your lessons and, at times, the closure of your heart, as you attempt to live a life without pain. With so much focus and energy placed upon closing, protecting, and distancing yourself, you will find very little time or space left for joy. You are the industrious watchman standing at attention at the gate of your soul and heart. You prevent entry as best as you can and, when the breach occurs, you hang your head in perceived failure. But bear in mind that on each occasion when you prevent entry, you also block openness. And that is a perfect example of the negative effects that can accumulate when you lack trust.
Your understanding of trust is referenced as trusting people, events, or situations which arise. Yet the aspect of trust which you lack is far greater than that of where your steps fall. The trust we speak of rests in the heavens, with spirit, the highest source, or God. This form of trust transcends all life circumstances and all lives. The trust we speak of involves the process—the experience of living—the trust of spirit, the highest source, or God, and of the guidance of what we can never fully understand.
When you find yourself at these painful moments, do not assume the occurrence rests solely within your responsibility. This is what most people tend to do. With their heads dropped in hurt and disappointment, they proceed to scold the child-self. This only compounds the pain. This practice must be avoided. When the world hurts you—something that is inevitable—become the loving caregiver to yourself. Gently brush away the tears of hurt quietly and do not let those tears dry into trails of shame to remain upon your face or soul. Shame serves no useful purpose, must always be avoided, and never self-applied or accepted from others. With the kindest bravery, reflect and examine if there may exist the opportunity for a lesson interlaced with your disappointment. Accept that aspect. You must take the risk to trust. You must experience hurt. You must learn. You must grow. You must seek self-comfort. You must live your life. And, in that life, joy and sorrow exist. Trust that you will find both.
Lessons from the Trumpet Vine is available online:
B & N: http://bit.ly/HrLpTk
Several years ago, the opportunity arrived to purchase the little house and grounds which intersected the L-shaped property of what is now known as, The House at Rooster Ridge. After the purchase we eagerly began to discover what would lead us to the renovation of this over-100-year-old building. Our first indication of the potential for this little structure was hidden behind a tiny door. Under the carpeted and narrow staircase which led to the second floor was a sheet rock wall and in it a small painted door, approximately 18″ tall by 15″ wide. As we peered behind the door, we found the first clue to the depth of the possibility of how amazingly quaint this little structure could become!
When the little door was opened we found a small space which had previously been used as a storage area for a vacuum cleaner. With flashlights in our hands the initial discovery was made—and the rest, as they say, is history! The floor of this tiny space was dusty and dingy—and constructed of very worn wide plank flooring. Peering inside and now with the assistance of light fully illuminating the floor we realized, what we were seeing between the several small separations between the planks, which lay side-by-side, was the stone-walled basement. This meant only one thing to us—as self-proclaimed-forensic-building-historians—that we were looking at the original flooring of this building!
The first action we took (excitedly, hurriedly) was to rip out the door and sheet rock wall which had been built to create this storage space. As the sheet rock was removed we also made our second wonderful discovery—the staircase was solid old wood. As we continued our inspection and through the enthusiastic discussions which followed, we came to understand that this wide plank floor ran beneath the existing and relatively new strip-oak flooring. This was the moment when we fully realized the little treasure we had found! And to think this precious gem was sitting right next door for—oh, over a hundred years!
One of the design themes at The Cottage at Rooster Ridge is the intention to create vignettes, small illustrated stories which are told in a visual language. The small and precious space, beneath the stairs in The Cottage at Rooster Ridge, is one of those tales.
Due to the small stature of this space the inspiration for this design-story unfolded as I pondered who would comfortably fill this space. I allowed my thoughts to meander, to carry me loftily to a lovely vision and as I did so, I imagined a young child sitting in this little room beneath the stairs. I watched an imagined tea-party with a brown furry bear and later, a quiet and special space to look upon a picture book.
And so it became, The Small & Precious Space—Beneath the Stairs. A table was added and upon it was placed a charming rooster lamp—complete with an amusing fabric shade depicting roosters and farm scenes and finished with a cheerful red pom-pom trim. The underside of the stairs were exposed by removing the angled wall—adding interesting geometric shapes and dimension then painted a warm vintage barn red.
A shelf followed—the top could hold little books and the shelf was adorned with wooden pegs to hang a little sweater or bag. During a recent antique excursion a French Iron Painters’ Chair was found and brought to The Cottage at Rooster Ridge adding the finishing touch. On the shelf hangs a Vintage Wreath Form, which was used to create fresh wreaths of greens and flowers, now the form awaits—to be filled at a moments notice should an announcement of a tea-party occur!
The Small & Precious Space—Beneath the Stairs came to be—as structured thoughts were invited to float away—leaving a small and precious space—within our thoughts, for a day-dream vision to arrive. We offer to you the same invitation, let go of what it is you actually see and welcome the ability to dream and design in your cottage!
Once a Year, The Peonies Bloom—their arrival, with their abundance of delicate, soft as a whisper petals is one of the true signs that Springtime has arrived. The Peonies only bloom once and the remainder of their summer is spent growing to ensure that the following year they will once again burst forth with glorious bounty. As I began to think about sharing their radiance with you—I came to understand, to realize—at certain times, words—become unnecessary. Nouns, adjectives and verbs only seem to create noise.
Sometimes, in the splendor of magnificent, natural beauty—silence speaks the clearest, the most exacting and perfectly precisely.
Once a Year, The Peonies Bloom—
Earlier in the week we wrote about The Love of Color—GREEN! Our original plan was to present a pictorial display demonstrating the cohesiveness of bringing the organic color of green indoors. The magnificence that we discovered and photographed in nature made our interior shots pale in comparison—so our first tribute to green saluted the glory outside. Today we move indoors to complete our task.
We find green to be a grounding color, connecting us to all that grows and thrives. Introducing this essence into our inner sanctuary creates a peaceful quality. At Rooster Ridge green is used sparingly as an accent color and often travels indoors in the original natural venue as in our Rainforest Green Quartz counter-top in the kitchen of The House at Rooster Ridge.
We splurged and got a little wild taking the leap to have green ovens installed. I have to admit—it’s really fun to cook in green ovens! We have found that color makes the heart smile—if you are in the process of adding small or large new appliances to your cottage—consider a color!
The Vintage Tin Ceiling which we adapted as a back-splash near the stove and the desk area in the kitchen is a deep moss green—this shade is very organic and creates a feeling of stability. We love to mix patterns and have no fear in placing the Rainforest Green Quartz alongside the patterned Vintage Tin.
Green is introduced in decorative accent accessories; as seen the in the Antique Rockwood Pottery Vase, Antique green wine-wash and Vintage Soda Bottles.
Green Verde Marble has been infused as a consistent hearth color in the four fireplaces in The House at Rooster Ridge.
Historic green paint was used as an accent to the mantle in the Vida Room and the inset panels in the Entry Foyer and Dining Room.
More natural green can be found in the Antique Side Tables and two small floors; the front entry and the powder room feature Green Verde Marble.
With the introduction of green fabric on two dining chairs, this textural introduction further relates the touches of green accents.
The six coordinated panels of Antique Stained Glass which has been installed in the windows of The House at Rooster Ridge is a salute to the beauty of natural green—growing vines travel gloriously on the glass!
Green—is one of the most treasured gifts of nature. Calming, peaceful, healing.
Green represents growth—for us as spiritual beings and in nature. We encourage you to invite green into your cottage!
With the renewal of Springtime and the world literally and symbolically in full bloom, nature has stepped gracefully forward reminding us of all of the beauty life has to offer—each and every one of us.
With this fresh viewpoint and new-found feeling of hopefulness we often find ourselves in moments of inner reflection and quiet contemplation. The core of this might be as simple as thinking—I feel so hope-filled and at peace at this moment, how might I have this continue?
Perhaps, at that juncture, we find ourselves reviewing past actions in an effort to move forward in a positive direction—to do more good, to feel this inner peace more frequently or to reach a higher place of being—having the ability to share more light and love with others.
As I ponder these thoughts I am directed to the passage entitled; The Lesson of Self-Forgiveness from my book; Lessons from the Trumpet Vine.
In reading these words I am reminded to learn from past errors and through the gift of self-forgiveness gently move further along in my journey toward peacefulness.
With my heartfelt love and best intention to serve the highest good, I wish to share with you:
Lessons from The Trumpet Vine
Written & Illustrated by Jeri L. Glatter
The Lesson of Self-Forgiveness
Dear child, we see the sadness you are experiencing and the pressing weight of your new awareness. Despite the understanding and the grace you now encompass through our lessons, we see there now exists a new-found heartache. You have become melancholy as you pause reflectively with new eyes, as you review your past behaviors and intentions. You now see clearly the results which were directed by your previous viewpoints and your past actions and words. On one hand, your fresh perspective had made you buoyant with hope for future days. Yet you also understand the challenge and diligence which will be required of you. Through this new window, you now see clearly your past transgressions, and this is not something you had anticipated. Consequently, you now find yourself disheartened, and your soul is heavy.
Let us commend you for your insight, for reflecting upon yesterday through the eyes of your new knowledge. Moving forward with renewed grace and good intentions toward tomorrow would be far easier without this burdensome review of the debris you left behind. We understand that the path is more difficult to travel when one brings forth the knowledge of poor actions and misguided intentions into the light. We further sense your question that asks, “Now that I understand, how will I live peacefully, accepting that there have been actions which I now regret, which I now understand were poor, and knowing that there have been those who have been hurt by me?”
With a gentle, symbolic hand, we reach down as we compassionately raise your head. Dear child, do not look down in shame. Walking in your newly-realized self-disappointment serves no one—not you, not those you have hurt, nor those whose lives you now touch. Shame and guilt serve no one. This is not our wish for you. Within the feelings of shame, regret, and guilt, the seeds of change cannot be born. Do not tarry there. Instead, we ask you to bravely take action, first through your thoughts. Learn from your errors. Study them with an open heart. Allow them to teach you where you had become misguided. In that way, you will bring forth into tomorrow the knowledge to prevent further poor actions or harmful words.
To forget about your past actions, or to allow yourself the unacceptable excuse of focusing solely on the actions of others who were in relationship with you, will prevent you from altering future behavior. Instead, allow the past to become a course of study upon which you reflect and learn for the life yet ahead. In addition, stay alert to the opportunity to correct hurt that you have caused. At times, you will be presented with a person whose path will cross yours once again. As you now stand in the light of understanding and good intention, share that light, dear child. When appropriate, share your regret with them for your actions or your words by saying to them, “I regret my actions which caused you hurt. I now fully understand the error of my deeds. I have learned from this, and I am committed to never repeat that damage again.”
The most powerful way to move forward is to not allow yourself the indulgence of self-regret but to take action that will alter your future behavior. When appropriate, share your lessons and your mistakes with those who travel next to you. Allow your transgressions to become the positive actions of others through the generosity of sharing of your darkest stories. This is the only way to transform poor past actions into future good actions by yourself and others. Practice self-forgiveness and kindness as you accept the adage that says, “As you now know better, you do better.”
Lessons from the Trumpet Vine is available online;
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/HrLpTk
Book website: http://bit.ly/xvOhAs
Please feel free to view the book trailer: http://bit.ly/xdHFAd