Reflections of Fall

Nimisila Reservoir Metro Park,  Akron, Ohio  photography by Terri Pouliot

“We can always choose to perceive things differently. We can focus on what’s wrong in our life, or we can focus on what’s right.”
― Marianne Williamson

Choosing gratitude over exercising feelings of thanklessness, may not always be an easy path to take.

Stuff happens. Life makes no promises of fairness or that the road will always be without bumps.

When we lose that ‘entitled’ attitude and replace it with gratitude; our ‘rocky’ days will seem a bit smoother.

Gratitude and unappreciated feelings don’t reside in the same room very well.

While some days it may be difficult to find the positives; we have to try to focus on the small snippets of beauty and goodness around us.

I think one of the most difficult ‘pills to swallow’ is that bad things happen to ‘good’ people. This was actually the subejct of a book I read some time ago by Harold S. Kushner. He points out,

“Pain is the price we pay for being alive. Dead cells—our hair, our fingernails—can’t feel pain; they cannot feel anything. When we understand that, our question will change from, “Why do we have to feel pain?” to “What do we do with our pain so that it becomes meaningful and not just pointless empty suffering?”

Mr. Kushner has written several books on ‘the suffering of mankind’ that may offer unique insights on the subject.

I wake up with a sad and heavy feeling about all that is happening in this world, and in my own personal life. There are certainly many things that could send me into the corner of a dark room, or to mope about. But misery is not an option.

So, today….

I CHOOSE joy! And will fill my mind with all things right and good.

Because, I am surrounded by the beautiful and wonderful.

 

Gates of Hope

Photography by Terri Pouliot

“Our mission is to plant ourselves at the gates of hope — not the prudent gates of Optimism, which are somewhat narrower; nor the stalwart, boring gates of Common Sense; nor the strident gates of self-righteousness … nor the cheerful, flimsy garden gate of ‘Everything is gonna be all right,’ but a very different, sometimes very lonely place, the place of truth-telling, about your own soul first of all and its condition, the place of resistance and defiance, the piece of ground from which you see the world both as it is and as it could be, as it might be, as it will be; the place from which you glimpse not only struggle, but joy in the struggle — and we stand there, beckoning and calling, telling people what we are seeing, asking people what they see.”

–Victoria Safford

Connection

 

“Our world hangs like a magnificent jewel in the vastness of space. Every one of us is a part of that jewel. A facet of that jewel. And in the perspective of infinity, our differences are infinitesimal. We are intimately related. May we never even pretend that we are not.”

-Fred Rogers

 A look back at Rogers’ memorable 2002 Dartmouth commencement address.

Letting Go

She let go. Without a thought or a word, she let go.

She let go of the fear.  She let go of the judgments.  She let go of the confluence of opinions swarming around her head.  She let go of the committee of indecision within her.  She let go of all the ‘right’ reasons. Wholly and completely, without hesitation or worry, she just let go.

She didn’t ask anyone for advice. She didn’t read a book on how to let go.  She didn’t search the scriptures. She just let go.  She let go of all of the memories that held her back.  She let go of all of the anxiety that kept her from moving forward.  She let go of the planning and all of the calculations about how to do it just right.

She didn’t promise to let go. She didn’t journal about it. She didn’t write the projected date in her Day-Timer. She made no public announcement and put no ad in the paper. She didn’t check the weather report or read her daily horoscope.  She just let go.

She didn’t analyze whether she should let go. She didn’t call her friends to discuss the matter. She didn’t do a five-step Spiritual Mind Treatment. She didn’t call the prayer line. She didn’t utter one word. She just let go.

No one was around when it happened. There was no applause or congratulations. No one thanked her or praised her. No one noticed a thing. Like a leaf falling from a tree, she just let go.

There was no effort. There was no struggle. It wasn’t good and it wasn’t bad. It was what it was, and it is just that.

In the space of letting go, she let it all be. A small smile came over her face. A light breeze blew through her. And the sun and the moon shone forevermore.

Poem by  Rev. Safire Rose

Network

Photography by Terri Pouliot

“You won’t always be a priority to others, and that’s why you have to be a priority to yourself. Learn to respect yourself, take care of yourself, and become your own support system. Your needs matter. Start meeting them. Don’t wait on others to choose you. Choose yourself, today!

-Marc and Angel

This NETWORK of trees I captured on Easter Sunday, spoke to me loud and clear about something I have struggled with lately.

Walking always brings me into my calm.  It helps me sort through thoughts and feelings like nothing else.

I’ve found it necessary to make some tough decisions lately and I don’t know about you; but getting out in nature always helps clarify cloudy issues.

This has been a slow blooming spring and not really much ‘color’ to the landscape yet.  The daffodils and early April blooms haven’t even shown their stuff yet.

photography by Terri Pouliot

Scanning the riverfront along the mighty Cuyahoga River for any signs of spring, left me disappointed at first.  Then I spotted it.  This magnificent tangled network of trees which appeared to be very much still growing! So many questions and if only the trees could talk they would divulge the secret as to how they ended up this way!

My thoughts turned immediately to the struggles I had anguished over this week and what can happen if we don’t learn to prioritize.  What a tangled mess we can become.  We find ourselves growing toward the ‘wrong’ sunlight and someone else’s priorities instead of our own.

Yes.  We won’t always be a priority to others. Sometimes, others won’t ‘choose us’.  And that’s okay.  But what is not okay, is when we don’t make ourselves a priority, or support our own needs.

We matter.   We deserve to take better care of ourselves and become our own support system.  Surrounding ourselves with the essentials to support our goals, dreams and best health is our responsibility.

 

‘Network’ by Terri Pouliot

Obstacles

Photography by Terri Pouliot

That darn branch!

A few weekends ago, I wandered about our beautiful Ohio trails to do some hiking and exploring. In between trails, I stopped in awe to view the magnificent arches under the Ohio Turnpike Bridge on Riverview Road.

It was extremely muddy and the best position to avoid the muck was on a patch of gravel opposite the bridge’s underpass.

Unfortunately, there was this darn branch in my view. Dead, ugly gnarled tree and smack dab in the middle of the photo I was trying to capture.

This obstruction began to irritate me, so I moved into the mire and oozing sludge for a better angle. I kept sinking deeper into the rain-soaked earth, until I was not really comfortable with my stance.

I decided it best to move back toward dry ground and continued shooting.

A couple things came to mind. The dead tree branch sort of grew on me. It was a part of the view. It had more of a right to be there than I did. It had flourished at that very spot at some point in time. It was only a matter of time before it would return organically back to the earth. It’s job was complete.

And what I perceived as an obstacle, wasn’t an obstacle at all. It was a part of the whole picture. It belonged there.  The obstruction actually created a point of interest.

Now, I realize with the aid of Photoshop; I could remove the tree, digitally. But I won’t. I like it. I’ve learned to appreciate it. The branch reminds me that life isn’t always a picture perfect postcard. There will be obstacles and ‘dead’ branches that obscure our view. We have to learn to look beyond, to look past them. If we don’t; we will never see the beauty that life has to offer.

And life is truly beautiful when we choose to go deeper.

Walk

Take my hand.
We will walk.
We will only walk.
We will enjoy our walk
without thinking of arriving anywhere.
Walk peacefully.
Walk happily.
Our walk is a peace walk.
Our walk is a happiness walk.
Then we learn
that there is no peace walk;
that peace is the walk;
that there is no happiness walk;
that happiness is the walk.
We walk for ourselves.
We walk for everyone
always hand in hand.
Walk and touch peace every moment.
Walk and touch happiness every moment.
Each step brings a fresh breeze.
Each step makes a flower bloom under our feet.
Kiss the Earth with your feet.
Print on Earth your love and happiness.
Earth will be safe
when we feel in us enough safety.

by Thich Nhat Hanh

 

I love this!  How often do we walk,  only to have our destination in mind? When was the last time we simply enjoyed a brisk walk, with no goal or journey’s end, only our senses fully engaged?

February 28, marks the last day of the meteorological winter.  Spring is on its way!   The warming temperatures mean getting outdoors more and enjoying the warming temperatures.  A nice walk is the perfect way to celebrate.

Walking is a delicious way to exercise, especially when all our senses are invited to participate.  Think of the beautiful simplicity in this poem by Thich Nhat Hanh the next time you go for a walk.

Pause.  Breathe in each step with appreciation as new found as a spring bloom.

 

 

The Art of Walking

photography by Terri Kern Pouliot

The Art of Walking

How do you enjoy walking? Are you merely going from point A to point B? Do you walk briskly for the cardiovascular benefits? Do your walks have a specific target or goal in mind? Have you ever simply ‘sauntered’ as Henry David Thoreau suggests?
Sauntering, while walking, is an experience. This type of walking is purely delicious and luxurious. It has no specific goal in mind. While sauntering, it allows the adventure to ebb and flow naturally. It’s open. Free. Expecting nothing, but receiving everything.
Thoreau viewed walking in a unique way. He considered walking to be more of a spiritual endeavor rather than mere exercise.

The walking of which I speak has nothing in it akin to taking exercise, as it is called, as the sick take medicine at stated hours — as the Swinging of dumb-bells or chairs; but is itself the enterprise and adventure of the day. If you would get exercise, go in search of the springs of life. Think of a man’s swinging dumbbells for his health, when those springs are bubbling up in far-off pastures unsought by him!

Thoreau was convicted by the thought that walking should involve a ‘connection’ with our natural world and approached with the mindset of becoming ‘fully present’. He believed that ‘busy’ was a conscious decision. He spoke of returning to his ‘senses’ after a saunter in the wild.

I am alarmed when it happens that I have walked a mile into the woods bodily, without getting there in spirit. In my afternoon walk I would fain forget all my morning occupations and my obligations to Society. But it sometimes happens that I cannot easily shake off the village. The thought of some work will run in my head and I am not where my body is — I am out of my senses. In my walks I would fain return to my senses. What business have I in the woods, if I am thinking of something out of the woods?

Merriam-Webster defines the word ‘saunter’ as this;
  1. walk in a slow, relaxed manner, without hurry or effort.”Adam sauntered into the room”synonyms:stroll, amble, wander, meander, drift, walk; More
noun
  1. 1.a leisurely stroll.”a quiet saunter down the road”
The Smithsonian explains where the origin of the word mostly likely derived:
The first modern use of the word “saunter” was in the 17th century, writes Hannah Osborne for International Business Times, and 19th-century writer Charles Baudelaire was the first to popularize this description of an urban saunterer or flâneur:

The crowd is his element, as the air is that of birds and water of fishes. His passion and his profession are to become one flesh with the crowd. For the perfect flâneur, for the passionate spectator, it is an immense joy to set up house in the heart of the multitude, amid the ebb and flow of movement, in the midst of the fugitive and the infinite.

Consider sauntering on your next walk.  We don’t always need to ‘burn calories’ while walking.  Enter your walk with no expectations and with an open mind and heart.
Become immersed in your walk.

Self-Judgement

Photography by Terri Pouliot

“When you go out into the woods, and you look at trees, you see all these different trees. And some of them are bent, and some of them are straight, and some of them are evergreens, and some of them are whatever. And you look at the tree and you allow it. You see why it is the way it is. You sort of understand that it didn’t get enough light, and so it turned that way. And you don’t get all emotional about it. You just allow it. You appreciate the tree.

The minute you get near humans, you lose all that. And you are constantly saying ‘You are too this, or I’m too this.’ That judgment mind comes in. And so I practice turning people into trees. Which means appreciating them just the way they are.”

– Ram Dass

Re-Positioning

Photography by Tracy Sheppard

 

The importance of Re-positioning.

When we feel as though we are face to face with a brick wall; sometimes the best recourse is to re-position ourselves.

It happens. Life can be interesting and character building, whether or not we invite those moments. We may find ourselves feeling vulnerable and exposed, with circumstances beyond our control.

None of us are immune. If we’ve been around for any length of time, whatsoever, challenges will come knocking.

I love the term, ‘Re-positioning’. As a sailor’s daughter, and a lover of cruising; re-positioning brings certain scenarios to mind. The term, ‘re-position’ can mean an opportunity to catch a ship before it heads to an entirely different location. For example; ships may be in the Caribbean all winter, then head to Europe for the Summer season. A person can take advantage of this rare opportunity, if that is someplace you were planning on visiting.

Re-positioning can also be paralleled with life circumstances. To change our situation, we need to change our position. If we don’t like the way events are unfolding, or how life is treating us; we must change. If we can’t change our circumstances; we must change the way we are thinking about them.
I like how T. D. Jakes speaks of re-positioning ourselves, in this quote:

“Sometimes what makes us insecure and vulnerable becomes the fuel we need to be overachievers. The antidote for a snakebite is made from the poison, and the thing that made you go backward is the same force that will push you forward.”

Propelling ourselves forward is necessary if we are going to re-position ourselves and enjoy personal growth. Staying on course will determine our success. Becoming stagnant often leads to failure.

When we re-position ourselves, we change our attitudes and behaviors, embracing the necessary toward personal growth and to become extraordinary.

On a grand scale, we may find it necessary to re-position our career paths or place of residence. On a much smaller scale; we often desire a new wardrobe to match our emerging lifestyle, new hairdo or decision to embark on a healthier lifestyle.

Re-positioning must begin, always, with mindset. The decision to no longer stay in the same position and desire to propel forward, is required. Planning is essential. Navigational tools are critical. Knowledge, alone, is not enough. Attitude, persistence, and mindset are needed.

Surrounding ourselves with inspirational people, books, philosophies and clutter-free spaces are conducive to success.

This delicious and joyful feeling that we are fulfilling our life purpose is the purest form of luxury. These moments are layered with opulence, rich with completeness.

Elevate!

The time is now to create the grandest, most magnificent version possible for our one, luxurious life!

Thoughtfully,

Terri