Who do you surround yourself with? I hope with folks that encourage you to do better and still accept you when you are far from your best. I chose to surround myself with a wonderful man, family, friends, and mentors. People who reaffirm “I am enough.” Dean and I love each other’s company no matter where we are at, four or five hours in the vehicle on a road trip. We take in the scenery, silence, listen to music, and talk from time to time. Simply, home is where he is. I think he feels the same about me. This spring we have taken some long weekends relishing the spring greens and blooms. One weekend by ourselves, another included friends, and this last one included mentors and family. I met one of my culinary and literary heroes this past weekend. Dean and I drove to Eureka Springs, AR for The Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow’s Poetluck event. I have been following Crescent Dragonwagon for over 25 years in books, magazines and online. She has authored over 50 cookbooks and children’s books as well as donated the Dairy Hollow House for this non-profit group as a base to encourage the written and spoken word. There at the WCDH Crescent and others welcomed every new and old face. It felt good to be recognized now that I have been coming to the writers’ group for almost 2 years. What a feeling of belonging while with my fellow writers.
“I wanted to appreciate the moments of my life more fully; I wanted to get out of my head and into my life; I wanted to deepen my knowledge of the world, of other people—and of myself.” ~ Gretchen Rubin
What do you surround yourself with? Beauty. Love. Words. Life. “Magic Pools” as Margaret Tarrant’s painting depicts those swirls of infinite dreams, some coming alive, others still being stirred up inside. Dean and I still dream and talk about a house a little bigger than our current cottage house. A home with enough space to welcome visiting guests and our hobbies. Adjoining are a small greenhouse and studio/workshop to create in. Most likely situated on the edge of town in a different Missouri county. See where God leads us as Dean’s retirement approaches. Meantime, we gather glimpses of the past through research, museums, and antique shops to know where we came from. We live in the present moment with loving relationships, positive affirmations, the Word of God, and meaningful activities that fill our days. We share the joys and sorrows of our loved ones. We watch and listen to a pair of robin birds care for their little ones literally outside our front door. We plant flowers, herbs, and greens in planters because we believe in the future. Surround sounds, touches, smells, tastes, and sights as Gretchen Rubin explains in her newest book Life In Five Senses. Today, every day live life fully present. Tomorrow will take care of itself.
What do all these have in common? M’waw! In any given 15-hour period I can be all four places: historical small town main street, bustling city streets, tree-deprived urban avenue, or a country dirt road. The brick road, Main Street Missouri’s first state capitol of St. Charles, global skyscrapers towering over financial hub Clayton, urban neighborhoods sprinkled throughout St. Charles and St. Louis Counties, and the countryside near Defiance’s howling coyotes and wildlife; each culture is within 15 miles from my home. Today, the contrasting changes were apparent to me. Sunday, I spent 8 hours on Main Street in St. Charles, Missouri selling herbs, spices, and other food items at a niche market with literally hundreds of people during the Festival of the Little Hills, shopping at leisure and a slower pace. Early Monday morning I entered into a landscape of skyscrapers after bumper to bumper traffic at the fast pace of a city freeway. Suburbia is entered on several occasions as I get off the freeway as soon as I am able, finding quieter routes through residential areas and strip malls. And then to the greenhouse, winding down as I go out of the city, then suburbia, onto a state highway, county highway, and finally taking the dirt road near the weathered barn up the hill to our greenhouse. Most evenings we hear the owl’s hoot and the coyotes howl. Currently, I co-exist in these four cultures. Though two of them I am most at home with. Guess which two? Adaptability and flexibility have been engrained into my character these past five years while working for St. Louis County Government. Will I thrive for another 11 – 12 years in the city and its commute? Or is small town main street calling us home? More words on that subject at another time. Praying to see what God has in mind for Dean and I these last years before retirement.
We have at least one pair of Eastern bluebirds who have nested near the fields at Boone Hollow Farm. Wooden bluebird houses are attached to a few nearby fence posts. Natural foliage and virtually undisturbed grounds surround. They fly freely during the day, flitting about gathering bugs to feed their young while singing beautiful songs. Their predators such the night owl and coyote are heard every night. Yet each day is an occasion for song despite the possible dangers that lurk. Wildlife and nature live in the present moment, and celebrate it. This is what my grandchildren remind me with their everyday lives. They find simple joy in drawing with colors on a blank canvas of recycled paper, creating a sweet note to mommy or me, and the innocent truth they speak even in those awkward moments. Living life to its fullness. Children welcome the gift of living in this present moment, which can bring their adults to this same place, if we allow it.
My husband, Dean does this for me as well. I am a planner, and he lives for today. So sociable, affectionate, and thoughtful. Dean brings me back to celebrate this moment. Praying, journaling, and gardening take the cares of yesterday and worries of tomorrow so I can celebrate today. “There are exactly how many special occasions in life as we care to celebrate,” this Robert Brault quote says. Simple joy for the taking, everyday.