Grief is a sacred journey

Message from My Wiser Self

Don’t worry when the logger leaves after one day. Be glad he cares about the forest. Be glad he’s upset when his equipment makes ruts in the unfrozen earth beneath the snow. Let the Finger Lakes Land Trust conservation forester and this careful logger and neighbor who cuts only sick or broken trees handle this.

“I’ll return when the ground is hard and dry in the summer or next winter,” he says. “I’ll return when I’ll do less harm.”

Isn’t that all you need to know?

***

Willow wood stove

Don’t worry when the wood stove breaks. Call Phil. He’ll figure it out. When his first fix fails, he’ll have a new idea and a better fix. He’ll undercharge. You’ll overpay. He’ll grin when you tell him how much you appreciate his tenacity and willingness to fix anything broken in this old house.

Relax. You can count on Phil.

***

 

Don’t worry when a March storm drops eight inches of heavy snow. Don’t worry when the power goes out at midnight and is still out at noon the next day. The repaired wood stove warms the house. You have drinking water, food, and a gas stove with burners that light with a match. You have matches, too.

Tend that pile of clothing that never gets mended. Write a story in a notebook. Send someone a “thinking-of-you” card. Knit. Rub Willow’s belly. Read at the window while the snow comes down. Rest. The power will return. It always does. Your helper Matt will plow when the storm ends.

No need to fret.

***

Mourning Dove

Bluebird still here after the snow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t worry when the bluebirds build a nest in February. They’ll find shelter from the snow and return in a blaze of blue. Give thanks when the cardinals visit the birdfeeder and flash their scarlet wings. Rejoice when the mourning doves coo their poignant song. Celebrate the ice-crusted waterfalls. Brush snow from forest stones and sniff spring in the greening moss.

Walk in the snow with Willow. She’ll leap through drifts while you plod along on snow shoes. You’ll both find joy and blessed fatigue.

***

Arizona sunset (photo by Dorothy Motheral)

Get out of town. Take a desert vacation. Can you still spell that word? A holiday, a break, a retreat, a rest. Your mother-in-law is cared for by hospice, her nursing home, and her grandson. You don’t have to be charge. Hike in the mountains with people you love. Take a break from computers, too.

with Vic in Arizona, 1997

Don’t worry if you aren’t in mountain climbing shape. It’s a vacation, not a marathon. No one’s in a hurry. Search for wildflowers and swelling cactus buds. Sit in the shade and watch the big sky. Ignore politics. Let the world survive without you. Sleep late. Have a glass of wine.

Don’t worry about anything. It never gets you where you want to go.

***

I’ll be in AZ when you receive this, so I may not respond to comments quickly. I won’t have internet much of the time which feels like a blessing. Do you need a vacation as much as I do? Are you planning one? For other articles about journeys see I Thought I Could or my first blog post called Coming Home.

18 Comments
  1. Dear Elaine, Thank you for sharing your loving message and deep crone wisdom with us! Reading your words today felt like I was reading a beautiful, poetic prayer filled with equal measures of compassion, kindness and gratitude. You remind us all of why “time” and “words” are perceived as masculine, and “space” and “images” are imagined as feminine and how important it is to step sideways into Her space, as and when we need too. Enjoy! What better place to enjoy the beauty of life, nature, the Goddess and the wild feminine than in Her mountains!

    Recently I came across this inspiring quote, “Become a Warrior, Not a Worrier!” such sound advice I thought! Enjoy your vacation in the mountains my dear friend, why not leave your fears (pen & paper note under rock) at their summit. On Sunday I read an amazing (short) book by an English nature writer, “The Story of My Heart” by Richard Jefferies, published in 1883. It has blown me away, and helped me deepen my soul-life immensely! “Oh beautiful human life! (He writes) Tears come in my eyes as I think of it. So beautiful, so inexpressingly beautiful!” In soul, Deborah.

    • Thank you, dear Deborah. You always reflect something I need to hear. I love this image of stepping aside into Her space, out of the raging river, out of the fast flow, into a slow pool where I watch each detail.

      Letting go of worry is a lifetime project for many/most of us–certainly me. I’m practicing that art while I’m in the desert in Arizona. I love being with dear friends who love soul talk and soul work. I’ll put the book you suggest on my list. I have two books with me here: “Belonging: Remembering Ourselves Back Home” by Toka-pa Turner (highly recommended–read about it on Amazon) and The Goddess: Mythological Images of the Feminine by Christine Downing, published in 1990 and one of the early books read in my women’s mythology class. So I haven’t looked at this particular goddess book since around 1993, but felt drawn to it right now. Yes, in soul.

  2. What a paean to gratitude ~ and to self-care . . .which you have needed for a long time. I felt my tension drain away just reading this.

    Yes, I need a vacation but such a thing may not arrive until June. Then I hope to leave Florida heat and head for the Smokies in North Carolina.

    Blessings on your Arizona break. 🙂

    • I’m glad you have a mountain retreat in your future. I’m slowly letting go with the help of desert silence, brilliant night stars, friends who are loving and relaxing and love to give each other space, laughter, and amazing food (always needed for the best of times). Thank you for blessing this trip. So far, I haven’t received one phone call from my mother-in-law’s nursing home. I’m fourth on the list to call for these weeks–after my sons and after hospice.

  3. I adored this post. Thank you for it.

  4. I’m so glad you’re giving yourself a break, Elaine. A well earned and needed one. This sounds like my nightly song to myself, Don’t worry about this and don’t fret about that, it will all be okay, so I can take a break and sleep. As far as going on a vacation – well, it’s a major letting-go experience. I go through all this don’t- worry stuff, and then I need to turn to the What Could Possibly Happen list. And here I am on my long overdue vacation, stuck in a friend’s place because of airport closings and cancelled flights. All the measures put in place to assure smooth runnings of household and dog back home are working. And I’m getting an extra day and a half on the beach to worry and wonder, What else can possibly go wrong?

    • Hi Robin. Yes, I needed this. The fretting becomes constant background noise for me, so it’s good to have a break from my habitual life. And most of the objects of my fretting are sorted out. Next season’s firewood will be delivered when I return, my son is caring for my dog and the birds, Virginia seems to be fine, and AZ is snow-free. Whew… I’m in the desert at the home of friends where I have a private place to sleep–and cook but I don’t cook here. My friend has stayed with me often in Ithaca and she’s taking great care of me in the sweetest of ways. I’m not worrying. At least not for the moment. I’m glad you were stuck in a beautiful spot, but getting stuck when traveling is upsetting. I hope all went right for you at the end of your vacation. I’m not thinking about my return trip because today we’re going on a guided desert walk. I wonder what we’ll see…

  5. no words other than continued gratitude for the wisdom and inspiration you share so generously with those who have the eyes to see and the ears to hear… <3 Aum, peace, namaste <3

  6. Lovely, Elaine, and very good advice. I sense Mike DeMunn in the first paragraph.

    • I’m laughing, Tony. Yes, Mike DeMunn did the 20-year forestry plan, but the logger in the first paragraph is Phil Davis. We’ll wait, but Phil found me a source of firewood for next year, so it’s OK to wait. The sick trees have a reprieve and I got a break from winter snow. Maybe it will melt by the time I return next week.

  7. Beautiful message and beautiful Arizona. I miss that place but am on vacay in Mexico right now and practicing much of your advice. It’s so freeing to only turn on the computer for short bursts and not be chained! Enjoy my friend!!!

    • Yes to beautiful Arizona. This morning I watched my friend feed the ravens and quail. Cardinals sat in a nearby mesquite and watched. Temperature has been perfect and last night’s sunset was a show stopper. Each evening we watch Venus in the western sky as she dips below the horizon. I’m reading a little, writing a little, looking at headlines (briefly) most days, but mostly walking and watching. Today we’re going to Chiricahua National Monument, a place I visited 20 years ago. I’ve always wanted to return. I’m glad you’re in Mexico and hope your travel smoothed out after a rough start and you and your husband are both well.

      • So glad you had a wonderful time in AZ, Elaine. I have so many gorgeous photos of sunsets from Az. I was surprised that I also got so many equally beautiful photos in Mexico.
        I hope you feel invigorated after such a cold winter. 🙂

        • I love those AZ sunsets, but there weren’t so many on this trip. Despite drought, it was often slightly overcast, although some nights we saw gorgeous sunsets and Venus setting in the west. I’m invigorated as the flowers begin to bloom in my yard. Thank you, Mother Nature, for today’s walk without snow boots.

  8. I enjoy reading your blog Elaine. I find myself resonating with your prose, and thank you. I hope you continue to write and enjoy life. It’s such a lovely ride. Thank you for sharing your insights. I look forward to reading your book. 🙂

    • Thank you for letting me know you’re reading and resonating with my writing, Susan. Writing is my favorite way to communicate since I’m losing my hearing. Hearing loss is isolating, even though I’m an excellent lip reader. Fortunately, I love taking time to articulate my thoughts by writing them. Wishing you well, and no matter where you are, I hope it isn’t raining ice pellets there.

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