yellow and a lifetime

I was out walking the dogs the other day and I saw this yellow butterfly. The kind that just sort of flits and floats about with no seeming purpose. Then I saw a yellow leaf floating to the ground in the same fashion and it was next to the butterfly and for a moment, I couldn’t tell the difference between the two. They were both just fluttering and suspended for a moment next to each other as though the universe was teaching me some sort of lesson if I could just figure it out.

I thought, perhaps I’m learning not to take advantage of the small things like a butterfly or a leaf floating. Then – perhaps I’m learning to enjoy the small, and seemingly insignificant things that the world has to offer. Maybe it’s that beauty is not limited to butterflies. Maybe it’s a divine reminder to notice – or rather, Notice. Then I realized that I was over thinking and just stood and watched. Forget the lesson for now and watch the leaf fall and the butterfly float with the same exact kind of flippant grace.

I swear that time stopped and I stood there for years watching the leaf and the butterfly ride the wind. In the time it took the leaf to fall to the ground and the butterfly to move on to another yard, I had come to the realization that the leaf was falling and the butterfly was floating and I and the dogs were walking all at the same time in the same space and for all intents and purposes, we were the only things that existed in the world and everything was good and an entire lifetime could have stretched throughout that moment and it wouldn’t have mattered to me. We were one and the same – all connected in a moment that was a lifetime that was perfect and that will never happen again.

I don’t have a picture, because I’ve been practicing mindfulness with the technology. Never fails. If you want to see something beautiful, make sure to leave all of your technology behind. I guarantee that you will not be disappointed. I also guarantee that the moment will stay with you even though you don’t have a physical reminder of the beauty that revealed itself to you.

Happy Wednesday.

Peace and love, Malinda

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Trees and Me

I grew up with an awareness that there were certain kinds of trees. I noticed that they varied in height and leaf shape and I noticed that certain trees had flowers and that some didn’t. I learned growing up in northern middle Tennessee that dogwoods were good climbing trees and they were the ones that had the pretty flowers in the spring – so delicate and simple and white and unassuming and beautiful. I would stare at the flowers while hanging out in said trees and watch the bees land and drink and leave and then come back with a friend and then leave again. I learned that some dogwoods were pink, but that they were special and not like the wild ones that grew in the fields around the house that I grew up in.

I also learned about fruit trees while growing up. I mowed around them in the summer months and was always puzzled at how small they were. I mean – I got the idea that they were dwarf fruit trees, but they just seemed like apple bushes to me and I had the most fun mowing around them. Dad would weed-eat huge circles around them. He said to help me – I think it was to ensure that the trees stayed in one piece. Either way – it worked.

We also had maple trees. Dad went out to Mr. Robert’s property and got some “fast growing” maples. Ha. I waited for years to be able to climb those trees. It never happened – life has a way of moving folks on and our family moved from that home before I could climb them. We did use them as bases for baseball – 2nd was a little closer to 3rd which was sometimes good and sometimes not – It just depended which base you were on and which one you were trying to get to. I don’t drive by that house when I’m in the area, because I want to believe that those trees are still there. I have no reason to believe that they’re not, but it would really make me sad to see the old place without those trees. They were beautiful and the leaves against a stormy sky were the perfect green against the perfect gray.

I learned that there was such a tree called the “tulip poplar” at my violin teacher, Mr. Mazenek’s, house. I was collecting leaves for a science project at school and he had the most beautiful trees. Mom and I walked with him all over his yard collecting different leaves from different types of trees.  I remember the tulip poplar was really big and the leaves were cool and the flowers were crazy to me. To be honest with you, I’m still not sure about them. Tulips are flowers and not trees, but in the case they are one and the same. Maybe I need to spend more time with one and then I’d understand the species better. This was also the day that my mom drove over my violin on the way out of my teacher’s driveway and I cried all the way home and promised to practice every day if she’d get me another one.

She did. I guess I should say, “they did”. Mom and Dad have always been a team.

I learned about tall pines in Mississippi while driving with a youth group to a mission trip and short, scrubby pines while hiking in Beersheba Springs, Tn with my husband, Adam.

When we lived in Chapel Hill, Tn, I watched redbuds spread in the brush with wild Irises and yarrow for competition. Their leaves will forever look like hearts to me and when I see just one in someone’s yard, I feel lonely for that tree – they’re meant to grow together with their roots weaving together underground to keep them stable and safe in the storms that are so windy and in the tornado seasons. They hold each other up and bend and move together as a whole when the wind kicks up. That is a whole diffierent blog post. I have a lot to say about that.

I could go on, but I figure you get the point by now. I’ve learned some things about trees and I like them. Moving on.

Chapel Hill, Tn as a whole has many things to boast. The people there are the salt of the earth and as loving and caring a group of people I’ve ever met in my life. The Duck river meanders through the country side there with a wisened and quiet presence. The state park is at the edge of town and a refuge for the locals. There is even rumor of a ghost on the train tracks.

It is also home to one of Tennessee’s cedar barrens and my husband Adam and I lived in one for the first ten years of our marriage. There are cedar trees everywhere. They grow just for the sake of growing, it seems. So thick you can’t maneuver through them very well and don’t want to, really, because the ticks love them and walking out in the thickets just make you a target for those little creepy crawly icky dudes. Bug spray be damned – you have to about bathe in the really strong stuff and even then, just expect to find one on you somewhere anyway after a jaunt through the woods. Enough. About. That.

I watched those trees. Every spring – every summer – every fall – every winter.  They were constant and they were unchanging. They were this silent presence as we worked in the garden or sat in the yard watching the chickens as the sun went down. They were heavy under the little snow we would see in the winter. They stood tall and proud in the spring rain and seemed to dance as the weight of the downpours would hit them just right. We would watch in the heat of the dry summer as the pollen would burst and it would look like a whole hillside was on fire from the dust drifting up through the branches. The seasons changed, but those trees never did and they became something to me that I didn’t even realize was huge until I moved away and I missed those trees. I missed them so much. They had become this familiar thing that was part of who I was as a human being and then they were gone and THEY were ok because they’re always ok and I wasn’t because I was lonely without them.

So I wrote a song about it. It’s called… wait for it…. Cedar Trees. Maybe one day I’ll play it for you.

Love and smiles and always peace,

Malinda

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Kasey#1

Let’s just proceed as if you know the back story – the back story is another story that would take a while and this is the story that needs telling at the moment.

The following is a conversation that I had with my violin student, Kasey, this day – September 17th, 2014.

The story begins….

We’ve been learning Pompeii – one of the pop songs of the moment that I don’t mind teaching my violin students – it’s rhythmically challenging and it has a G# which helps me teach my students “neighbor notes”.  This one in particular requires the left ring finger to reach up toward the bridge of the instrument a half step higher than the student is used to playing and it develops finger strength.  An exercise best done on a familiar song that the student likes at that time.  I do admit to taking the path of least resistance and have no shame in using pop songs as etudes.  I’m a deconstructionist by nature – so it suits me to strip a song to the melody and let my little fiddlers play to their heart’s content – all while learning how to play G#.  Biggest joke in the world.  Anywho.

I will say this – the conversation took about three minutes and if you know the darling girl or another darling human like her, you’d know that it’s just easier to have the conversation than not answer the question.

Thus begins the conversation about the following lyrics:

Where do we begin, the rubble or our sins?”

Mrs M?

Yes, Kasey?

What is a sin?

A sin is a – well let’s just say a spiritual or religious wrongdoing.

A huh?

A mistake, Kasey.  A sin is what many people would consider a mistake. You’re Jewish, right? (she nods yes) Well, you know in the Torah where God gave Moses the 10 commandments? (She proceeds to sing a song about that and then Moses parting the red sea for good measure. I continue after the grand finale.) Well, those were the big mistakes that God was telling humanity they shouldn’t make.

Ok, – So why does it say, “Where do we begin, the rubble or our mistakes?”

Well – it kind of has to do with the Choices that people make.  The rubble could be seen as the mistakes of others and the sin that they’re talking about could be seen as our own mistakes. And really, it seems to make sense to me that people should worry about their own mistakes before they should be worrying about other people’s mistakes.

Yeah.  And Mrs. M, you know what it’s called when you take care of your own mistakes and then help other people with theirs?

What do you think it’s called, Kasey?

Then the darling girl says with the widest eyes and most earnest and factual tone, “It’s called responsibility. Mrs. M.”

And that, folks, is that.

peace and smiles,

M

 

 

Rules

I live under some pretty basic life principles.  Don’t be mean to others – especially the ones who are mean to you.  But don’t let the meany heads walk all over you – there is a fine line.  Don’t be mean to yourself.  Plenty of other people will try to do that for you.  Don’t be mean to kids and animals – they need heroes.  People to learn from and look up to.

My biggest and last rule is to never forget that God exists.  

It’s easy sometimes when you’re surrounded by people who will argue til they are blue in the face about this and that religious principle.  Or when you’re surrounded by jaded skeptics who have been burned by what I call “God-in-a-black-and-white-box-Christians”.  Or when you are the minority in any group of people who do not believe that God exists.  Or atheists who care SO MUCH that there is no God – you can’t help but wonder why they argue so passionately.  I think I know the answer to that one, though.  Some people will argue until the other person stops and it takes a big minded person sometimes to just quit arguing while another person rails at you with endless points and examples and then finally the “stony silence”.  This silence speaks louder than any noise.  I don’t really care for it, but sometimes it’s better than the get nowhere arguing.

When I forget that God exists, I become selfish and arrogant.  The creator of my own will and mood.  I forget to be thankful for my home, my clothes, my garden, my sweet puppy dogs, and (mostly) my family and friends.  When I forget that God exists, I have less patience with those that need it most.  When I forget that God exists, I walk without seeing and listen without hearing.  It’s like unstructured jazz.  My life becomes chaotic with a melody that doesn’t seem to go anywhere.  (My apologies to those of you who are a fan of that type of music.  It’s just not for me.)

When I remember that God exists, I will sit with zen-like stillness while my nephew tries to catch his own crawdad his way even though I tell him that you can’t see those little suckers in the cloudy water.  When I remember that God exists, I stay quiet when my spouse gets home from working 12 hours and doesn’t want to talk.  Even though the only thing I’ve talked to all day are four legged, furry, slobbery dogs and hungry chickens.  And plants.  I talk to my garden plants.  When I remember that God exists, I find beauty everywhere I look.  Even within myself.

I don’t shout it through a loud speaker.  I live it.  I live my belief that God exists.  I separate myself from those who would tear down and associate myself with people who build up.  Are they sometimes rough around the edges?  Yes.  Aren’t we all.

peace and love to you and yours,

Malinda

A symphony of lightning bugs

I’m sitting by the garden with my Lovin’ Husband in the half light watching a host of dancing lightning bugs perform to the tunes lilting up from the open back banjo. I heard a day or two ago from my friends a little south and east from where I live that they had been a spectacular form of entertainment and have been patiently (yeah, right) waiting their arrival. Now they are here and I’m in the moment and there won’t be another like it ( and even then it won’t ever be just like this one) until next year or tomorrow night if I’m lucky.

Rain seems to make the birds sing louder

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I like to come outside after it rains and look at the drops of water on the petals and see which blooms lasted the deluge and which didn’t. Then, a while after the sun has been shining following said deluge, I like to look at my plants and see the growth that the rain caused.

Also, have you ever noticed how the birds seem to sing louder and more clearly in that time after the shower and before the sun comes back out?

I am enjoying that raucous symphony right now as I sit on my front porch with my coffee and my two faithful doggy companions and it is clearing my head and preparing my soul for the day.

Just some random morning thoughts. I hope your day is one in which you had at least a moment that you feel you’ve truly lived.

Hearing the wind relaxes me

I recently put a table on my back patio and have been doing morning coffee slash quiet time outside now that Mr. sun has decided to join us in late spring.

It is anything but quiet, though. Unfortunately I can hear the nearby highway, but I can also hear the birds and see the other animals roaming about the yard and the garden is there, too, always teaching me patience and peace.

But the wind is a roaring wave of sensation on my skin and in my ears. Hearing it and feeling it immediately comforts me. Makes me slow down and truly live in a moment. A moment not wasted by worry, anxiety, or even excitement or that good kind of nervous you get right before something amazing happens. It simply is a moment in which I do nothing more than exist and become aware of the world around me. I really, really love that feeling.

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