Letting Go of “Why” and “How”

Serendipity is one of my favorite words – it means a “fortunate happenstance” or “pleasant surprise”. Lately though, I’ve been thinking more and more about the role faith and the power of conscious intention play in the delivery of “serendipitous outcomes.”

Speaking for myself, it’s easy to say we have faith when things are going well, it’s a different story when things aren’t going our way. During times of smooth sailing, we tend to sit back and just enjoy the ride. We don’t question why things are going well and we don’t try and “fix” things.

But, when the waters get rough, all of the sudden our egos step in and trounce all over faith. Some of us begin to worry relentlessly; we ask, “why is this happening to me?” and begin to plot and plan desperately about the “how” we’re going to make it better rather than asking for help. We forget about all of the times in our past that we were certain there was no hope and seemingly out of nowhere came a serendipitous solution.

One of my favorite personal stories related to this topic is how I came to live in my current house and the series of events that have unfolded as a result.

My youngest son and I were living in an apartment and for a variety of reasons it was really important for us to find a new place to live; we both wanted to find a house to rent. Sounds easy, right? As it turned out, the process took several months and was fraught with many disappointments and a lot of tears.

At the time, the bigger question for me was, “why hasn’t my house in Omaha sold?” It had been over a year since we moved to Pennsylvania and the house we owned was still occupied by renters and I was in no position to buy real estate on the East Coast. I also had a whole lot of “how” questions,  the most pressing were:

  • How am I going to furnish a house? (we sold and/or donated most our furniture before we moved)
  • How will I afford a higher rent?
  • How can I avoid moving for the next 3 years until my son graduates from high school?

I’d have to admit that I was both bitter and angry about the situation at the time. Now I’m sincerely grateful for it.

After more than a few false starts, I received an unexpected text message from my realtor that quite literally changed my life; it said “I believe I have found the perfect house, can you meet with the owner tomorrow morning?”

My landlord is an artist (I’ll get to that in a minute), she not only rented me a nearly fully furnished house – there was just the right amount of space left for my own personal pieces of furniture and everything melded together in perfect harmony. The night after we first met, we negotiated a monthly rent I could afford and I signed a 3 year lease.

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The more interesting part of the story is how meeting her and moving into this house has been a catalyst for my artistic endeavors and profound changes in the way I think. By this time, I’d discovered that I have an ability to write but I had yet to tap into the potential of my visual artistry and I was struggling desperately with the notion of self-acceptance.

The summer I turned 50, my landlord, Jeanne Marie, introduced me to the work of Julia Cameron through the book Walking in this World: The Practical Art of Creativity. As a result, I began to understand that it’s OK to be vulnerable and ask for help – people will still love and accept you.

I began to take chances in new ways like registering for a drawing class and sharing my progress with other people. One drawing class led to another and my style continues to develop and emerge.

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I could go on and on about all of the wonderful experiences I’d have missed if my house in Omaha had sold and I hadn’t moved into the house I’m renting now.

It’s amazing to me that my 3 big “how” questions were answered, and it certainly wasn’t a result of all of my “what iffing” and trying to control the outcome. It also strikes me that somewhere in the deep recesses of my subconscious I must have been hoping and praying for the opportunity to discover my creativity and to find a way to accept and love myself.

Over the past few years, I’ve become much more aware of the peace that comes with letting go of the “why” and the “how.” I’m learning that when we focus on the outcomes we desire rather than the methods by which we think we can achieve them, life is easier and more rewarding.

A few things I’ve come to believe.

  • Asking for help from God, the Universe or from other people is not a sign of weakness – it’s a sign of strength and it’s one of the ways that we connect with each other and and it’s one of the only ways that we can hope to receive and/or achieve abundance and fulfill our life’s purpose.
  • We have free will and so do others, perhaps there are times where things in life don’t work out quite the way we think or hope they will and it’s a result of someone else exercising their free will – it happens, we need to accept it and move on. The “why” doesn’t really matter.
  • We think and “pray for” what we “know” is best for us, but we rarely know what we actually need and trying to control the “how” let alone the outcome only serves to limit us.
  • We think a whole lot smaller than we should. Lots of reasons for this, fear of criticism and failure – fear of rejection and ridicule. Truth is our life’s purpose is a lot bigger than we can possibly imagine it to be, if we are open to letting it happen.

The “how” really isn’t up to us and the “why” doesn’t matter.

Aloha and Mahalo, My Trip to Hawaii

Aloha,

Several months ago my parents called and asked me if I’d like to accompany them on a trip to Hawaii in February of 2016. As you can imagine, it took me less than a nanosecond to say, “Yes!”

I’m a toes in the sand kind, warm weather, sun and water loving kind of girl, so a trip to Hawaii was like a dream come true – especially during the month of February when there’s not a lot of sunshine and it’s cold in the state of Pennsylvania. As happens when you’re anticipating a big event, from the time we made the reservations through the end of the year it seemed like February would never get here, then all of the sudden I was boarding the first of three flights – final stop the Kona airport.

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After picking up the rental car, the first order of business was to find the local Walmart and stock up on breakfast, lunch and snack food; we didn’t want to hassle with going out for breakfast in the mornings and it also seemed smart to reserve our eating out dollars for dinner. The second order of business was to check into a beautiful two-bedroom condo at the Wyndham Resort in Kona while my dad looked into the possibility of booking an excursion to the peak of Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano and the highest point in Hawaii.

The expeida.com girl remained cheerful, but carefully calibrated our expectations by explaining that this particular expedition is usually filled within weeks if not months of the available dates. She called to make the inquiry and her smile broadened as she said, “there was a cancellation for three people on Monday?!”

My dad didn’t waste any time, “That’s amazing, let’s book it.”

It was the first of many serendipitous moments throughout the upcoming week.

My parents are not exactly what you would call planners when it comes to traveling; they like to take more of a “figure it out along the way” kind of approach so on Sunday we gathered information about the various excursions and booked a Volcano Tour and a luau in addition to stargazing on Mauna Kea. The remaining days were left open for exploring the island on our own.

In order to keep the roadside views uncluttered and natural, there are very strict signage rules on the island, so it’s not uncommon to receive an answer like this when asking for directions:

“Oh, you want to visit the coffee and nut man? Ok, here’s how you get there – go out of the driveway to the right and at the first stop sign, go right to the top of the hill, Lunapule Rd. Then go to the top of the hill and turn right at the stop sign, that’s Walua Rd. 

At the intersection, go to the yield sign and turn right on Kuakini Hwy; this will merfe into Hwy 11 Southbound. Keep going until you reach the 5th stop light, Halekiki St, and turn right – there’s a gas station on the right side. Now go down the hill to the second fire hydrant on the right.

You’ll see a driveway and a sign that says “Captain Cook Trading Place”, pull into the driveway. The coffee and nut guy is next to the granite and tile warehouse on your left – you’ll know you’re in the right place when you see boxes piled up to the ceiling.”

Thank goodness the directions were also written down!

Between counting stop signs and fire hydrants, trying to find the coffee and nut guy was a lot like being on a scavenger hunt. I have to confess that we ended up using a bit of modern technology to find him, but only after we tried and missed the destination more than once.

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The coffee man was nowhere in site (apparently he works his own and very elusive hours) so we opted to have lunch at the local eatery next door to the Captain Cook Trading Company.

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When the first bite of my crab-cake melted in my mouth, I would have sworn that I was dining at 5 star restaurant rather than sitting on a folding chair and sharing the equivalent of a card table with strangers.

As luck would have it, another serendipitous moment occurred and the coffee man arrived and opened for business just as we finished our lunch.

Surrounded by boxes of coffee beans and macadamia nuts, Emmerich (aka the coffee and nut man), shared his wealth of knowledge about the island and the process of roasting coffee beans to perfection. I didn’t get a chance to sample the coffee, but if it’s half as tasty as the macadamia nuts, it’s wonderful.

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Each one of our excursions deserves it’s own narrative, so for now I’ll just share a few of the highlights.

Monday we headed to Buns in the Sun, a local bakery and the meet up place for the trip to the peak of Mauna Kea. I’, not sure which was more amazing to be “walking in the clouds” at 9,000 feet above sea level or seeing the galaxy just beyond the Milky Way first hand.

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On Tuesday we set off with no particular destination in mind other than to visit a small artist’s community on the northeast coast of the island. Our adventure led us to the edge of the island and one of the most spectacular views of waves from the Pacific Ocean rolling onto a sheltered black sand beach.

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The entire trip was amazing, but I think if I had to pick, I’d say Wednesday was my favorite day. The last thing I expected that morning was for my dad to announce that he wanted to go zip-lining. His exact words (or close to) were, “I’m going to be 80 this year, who knows when I’ll have another opportunity to go zip-lining, so let’s do it.”

The drive there was almost as exciting as the actual zip-lining experience, but that’s a story for another day. The tour guides were awesome – two young guys who had just the right combination of personalities to be encouraging without being condescending and enthusiastic without being annoying.  I never imagined I’d see a waterfall in Hawaii, let alone while I was zipping across a valley going 50 miles per hour.

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Thursday, where to begin? There’s no way I can capture the day in only a few words. To sum it up, we had a private tour of parts of the island and the National Volcano Park. Yep, as it turned out, the other six people who had made reservations for the same day as us cancelled at the last minute and we ended up with a personalized adventure.

We saw sea turtles sunning on a black sand beach, walked through a lava tube had lunch on coffee plantation and learned about the rich history of Hawaii from our guide and companion for the day, Jim Carey (not the actor in case you’re wondering). Thanks to him, it was an incredible and unforgettable day.IMG_2706

Last, but certainly not least, on Friday we had a free day; I hung out by the pool and my parents spent more time gallivanting around the island, in the evening we attended a Luau – apparently it’s “state law.” 🙂

The dancers were mesmerizing, the food was delicious and the setting was spectacular.

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Some days it still seems like the trip was just a dream, but the pictures prove it wasn’t.  Words cannot begin to describe how absolutely magical this trip was. I will never forget it and will always treasure the memories.

Mahalo (many thanks) to my parents for this amazing experience, I’d have to say that I think I have the coolest parents on the planet!

Raking Leaves and a Lesson in Gratitude

I live in one of the most beautiful areas of the country, especially during the fall. I consider myself to be luckier than most because I am within walking distance of the towpath along the Delaware Canal. The weather this fall has been spectacular and the colors have seemed more vibrant than ever before.

fall colors along the towpath

There is a small price to be paid for living in an area with so many beautiful trees, and that price comes in the form of leaf blowing and raking – honestly not two of my favorite chores. I’d much rather walk along the towpath and admire the brilliant colors than round them up into large piles on the side of the street.

However, it’s a task that must be done and this year it was up to me to complete it on my own.

In spite of the beautiful weather, I can’t say that I approached my first round of leaf blowing and raking with enthusiasm. If anything, I found my mood darkening with passing moment and I let myself slip into the dangerous and unproductive “woe is me” frame of mind.

Somehow the piles of leaves started to represent unfulfilled dreams and insurmountable challenges.

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Just as I was thinking about how I wished my life was easier and that I shouldn’t have to spend my time blowing leaves, I made eye contact with a man with a profound limp passing by my house.

He waved to me with the stump of a hand and a smile.

I waved back, feeling selfish and spoiled.

I’d have to guess that he would have given anything to be in my shoes and here I was feeling sorry for myself. My state of mind shifted and my thoughts became focused on being grateful for being physically able to rake, for the beautiful home I live in and for my wonderful circle of family and friends.

It’s easy to lose sight of what’s really important in life and sometimes we need to be reminded. I’ve never seen this man before and it’s unlikely I’ll see him again, but he made a lasting impression and taught me a valuable lesson in gratitude and keeping things in perspective.

A Walk in the Park

I can tend to be a creature of habit when it comes to certain aspects of my life, especially if it’s an activity that involves the possibility of getting lost. Try as I might to change it, the fact is that I’m what you would call directionally challenged.

My adventures in getting lost include ending up in the wrong state (more than once), taking the wrong train home and arriving at social events way beyond fashionably late even when I start out thinking I know where I’m going. As it turns out, GPS systems aren’t infallible. 🙂

My fear of getting lost isn’t limited to cars, trains and planes – it also influences where I walk, I stick to the towpath and taking the same route through a nearby neighborhood both there and back home. It would be impossible to get lost on the towpath, it runs parallel to the Delaware river for 60 miles and the only decision I have to make is whether I want to turn right or left out of the neighborhood and onto the trail.

The route might always be the same, but it’s never boring. There’s always something interesting and beautiful along the way and it’s one of my favorite places to think.

blue heron against a back drop of wild flowers

The area I live in is full of places to walk, run or bike – one of the local favorites is Tyler State Park. It’s 1,700 hilly acres interconnected with curving trails for pedestrians, bicycles and horses. The gravel trails through the woods are my youngest son’s favorite place to go for a run, not so much mine.

The first winter we lived here, I learned about a local running club that hosts a winter race series in Tyler Park. Looking back, I’m not sure what I was thinking, but at the time it seemed like it could be a good way to meet people and make friends. The people in the club were super nice and also wicked fast.

At the time I could keep up a 12 minute pace (on a good day and a flat course); the average pace of the runners in the group was 9 minutes or less per mile (every day and on a hilly course). It was all I could do to go fast enough to keep the last runner in sight so I wouldn’t take a wrong turn and end up lost in the middle of the park, especially on a long run. Thankfully they always had one or more volunteers stationed at the danger spots and I always found my way back to the boathouse.

Last Sunday I finally took Christian up on his offer to take me on a guided walking tour of his favorite spots in Tyler Park. We snagged the last open parking spot, laced up our shoes, grabbed a couple of giant bubble wands out of the trunk and headed into the park.

First stop, the Algae Slide. Apparently it’s the favorite spot for selfies among high school aged girls and young couples.

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From there we headed off of the paved trails, across a wooden bridge and into the woods, needless to say it was not a route I’d have taken on my own. 🙂

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Unfortunately the bridge that connects the business of the park with the solitude of nature is covered in graffiti and littered with drug paraphernalia. It’s such a shame that people don’t show respect for the world around them.

For the next hour or so, my 19 year old son and I hiked up and down the trail,

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stopped to enjoy little glimpses of nature like this tiny little toad,

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blew big bubbles in the clearings with our bubble wands

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and enjoyed the beautiful surroundings.

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Even though Christian was my guide, I have to admit that I sighed a little breath of relief when we emerged back out of the woods into a more familiar spot.

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It was a wonderful way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

A Humbling Lesson in Gratitude

I had a most humbling and emotional lesson in gratitude a few days ago. The past few weeks I’ve been impatient and feeling frustrated and discouraged about some of the things that are happening (or not happening) in my life. I’ve tried to be grateful for what I have, but frankly feelings of gratitude have escaped me and I’ve been feeling more like “why me?” than “wow I am so fortunate.”

Tuesday evening after finishing my work day, I drove to my chiropractor’s office for my weekly appointment and then stopped at the grocery store to buy chicken broth so I could make myself a simple but healthy meal of quinoa, chicken and salad.

As I entered the parking lot of the grocery store, a young man holding a sign that said: “Kindness requested, we need money for food and gas. God Bless.” caught my eye. More so, the hopeless look on the face of the young man and his wife as they tried to let their small young girls play but somehow keep them safe in the parking lot gripped my heart.

The license plate on the well traveled green Odyssey van was from Texas.

I couldn’t shake the image of this young family while I was shopping. My guess is that they were in pursuit of a better life for their family and met with adversity along the way.

While checking out, I hit the “yes I want cash back” button.

$20 isn’t going to get them far, but maybe it will help a little. They were both so grateful. I only wished that I’d been able to help them more.

Tears rolled down my cheeks as I drove past them and they waved and smiled with gratitude.

Yes, I am humbled and I am grateful for all of my blessings. I’m going to try not to forget them going forward.

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Author’s note:

This experience affected me deeply and has served as a reminder of many things like the power of forgiveness and also that there is no shame in asking for or accepting a helping hand. It’s also prompted a lot of reflection about life and how difficult it can be to remember that we each have a purpose in life and that the difficulties we experience can serve us in a positive if we choose to let them.

It’s sometimes – ok, well often-times hard to figure out what that purpose is, but I really believe that we do each contribute to the greater good in our own unique way.

Sometimes along life’s path we encounter relationships or experiences that don’t just hurt, they consume us with feelings of injustice, unfairness, rejection and isolation.

We have a choice about these experiences, one that we may not often consider. And that is to find a way to turn the things in our lives that are the most damaging and the most hurtful into our greatest teachers.

Whose Dog was That?

If you’ve ever owned a pet or have watched a dog run out into a heavily trafficked street, you’re familiar with the feeling of a racing heart, a tightened chest and a knotted stomach – even if it’s not your pet.

I was standing on the sidewalk outside of the bike shop in Park Rapids waiting for my friend to finish up his phone call when a small brown puppy raced out of the park and turned the corner onto the sidewalk adjacent to highway 34, the main drag between Park Rapids and Dorset Minnesota. Her bright red leash bounced off the pavement as she raced past me.

Soon after the dog ran by me, a woman emerged out of the same clearing and then out of nowhere a lanky teenage boy wearing a bike helmet joined her in the chase to capture the runaway pup. I’m not really sure how I thought I could help, but  without thinking at all, I followed their lead and took off down the sidewalk as a part of the rescue mission.

We all alternated between running and walking, it’s really impossible for a human (even a teenage boy) to keep up with a dog who doesn’t want to be caught and has no clue about things like the dangers of cars and really fast traffic. I jogged behind the puppy, trying to catch up while I was mentally willing her to stay on the sidewalk but fearing that she’d run into the highway.

Puppies are like toddlers, they’re oblivious to things like oncoming cars – you guessed it, after a block or two she darted off the sidewalk and onto the highway. My heart stopped, and so did all the cars. I’ve never seen anything like it. Not only did the cars behind her stop – the traffic on the opposite side of the highway slowed to a near stop; I believe that against all odds, she could have run across all four lanes and still been safe.

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After a few blocks of running she headed back toward the park and I watched the teenage boy try and cajole her into coming to him. I figured it must be his dog and the adventure was over, so I slowed down to a walk and thought about turning around.

From behind me I heard a woman saying, “That’s not my dog, but thank you, thank you for your help!”

She jogged past me trying to catch up with the teenager and the puppy on the boulevard.

Before I could turn around, a horn beeped twice and a red minivan pulled up along side me, “Tell her the dog’s name is Bess and I found the owner,” the driver said.

“The dog’s name is Bess?”

“Yes, and I found the owner through Facebook!”

Feeling I now had a purpose I ran as fast as I could to relay the news.

“Her name is Bess and the guy in the red van knows who her owner is,” I shouted as I ran past the woman who had thanked me.

Bess had thankfully run back onto the grassy area next to the highway, but she had no intention of being scooped up by some lanky teenage boy.

“Is that your dog?” I asked.

“No, is it your’s?” he replied.

“No, but I think her name is Bess.”

Just then she scampered off behind a fence and onto a back porch.

As though we had met each other before, the lanky teen and I signaled each other silently. I took guard duty at one side of the porch and he rounded the corner to take his post on the other side. We each waited for Bess to come scurrying out so we could take her to safety.

Neither of us caught her, but we successfully set a trap that led to her safety. Bess didn’t know it, but when she figured out how to run past the two of us she ended up running right into the arms of the woman who had started the rescue chase. Thanks to Facebook and the help from some strangers, Bess and her owners were reunited.

So, all this while, my friend has finished his phone call and is trying to figure out where I disappeared to.

I waved when I saw him walking toward me.

“Were you chasing a dog?”

It took a while to explain. 🙂

A Case of Mistaken Identity

A few years ago I splurged and bought myself a new suitcase. At the time I bought it, I thought it was the most brilliant purchase I’d ever made. It’s purple, one of my favorite colors, and also a color I figured would stand out from the typical dark green and black bags we all see swirling around the baggage claim carrier.

In the store I loved the fact that it has four wheels and is as tall as my kitchen table. I thought to myself, “This is going to be awesome! Finally a suitcase that will hold everything I need and will be easy to roll through the airport.” I’m not exactly famous for packing light. 🙂

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I continued to think it was brilliant right up until I packed it for it’s maiden voyage and had to figure out a way to get the darn thing down the stairs without killing myself. I managed to slide it down without too much trouble, problem solved and the suitcase’s “brilliant” status had only been slightly tarnished.

Each leg of the trip it became more and more obvious that the purchase was not brilliant at all. I couldn’t get the bag into the trunk by myself, the shuttle bus driver could barely hoist it onto the bus, and it weighed in at just under 50 pounds. If that wasn’t enough, the raised eyebrows and out-loud-laughter from friends and family confirmed that I had actually purchased one of the most ridiculous suitcases on the planet.

The only thing that’s turned out to be good about the bag is that I never have any trouble identifying my suitcase in baggage claim, until recently that is.

The night before my annual trip to Big Sand Lake, I first packed the essentials: walking shoes, ink pens, a drawing tablet, and my hair dryer and then I threw in my clothes. (you can see why I first thought this bag was brilliant, right?)

packing for the lakeAfter 7 hours of travel, including the trip to the airport at 4 a.m., I was more than thrilled when I saw my giant purple bag was the second suitcase off the plane and onto the carousel. I retrieved it and rolled it outside to wait for my parents to pick me up. (I have to admit that the one thing I do still love about the bag is how easy it is to roll around the airport.)

We spent the afternoon in Fargo, and after a leisurely lunch with my aunt and uncle and a short visit with my cousin and his beautiful wife and cute, cute babies we started our 1 hour drive to the lake. About 15 miles into the drive my phone rang. It was a number I didn’t recognize so of course I didn’t answer it, they left a voicemail.

“Hi Beth, this is the supervisor here from United Airlines calling. We have a big purple bag here at the Fargo airport with your name on it so it looks like you picked up the wrong bag from the baggage claim area this morning when you landed. There’s a passenger here who is missing a bag that matches the same description, so we think you have hers.”

Yikes!

Thirty minutes later I confirmed that there was indeed at least one other person in the world who must have initially thought this suitcase was awesome – they were identical.

We made the swap and I learned that the bag I mistook for mine belonged to a group that was originally traveling through Chicago, but had been re-routed through Minneapolis due to a cancelled flight. Unfortunately for both of us, their giant purple suitcase caught the first flight out of Chicago which put it on the same flight as me. What are the odds of that?

All’s well that ends well. I just hope they’re laughing about it as much as we are.

A Beautiful Lesson in the Art of Giving and Receiving

Today I went for a walk, little did I know that I would be taught a most valuable lesson about giving and receiving, from a 4 year old girl.

About 1/2 way through my walk I crossed paths with two women and 5 little girls who were enjoying the sights along the canal. I couldn’t help but notice the little blonde girl walking toward me and how proudly she held four goose feathers in her hands.

She looked up at me and stretched out her hands, “would you like one of my beautiful feathers?”

“Of course I would, thank you so much for such a wonderful gift.”

Her entire body, not just her face, lit up with the pleasure she felt in giving me this very precious gift.

As I walked away, goose feather in hand, I wasn’t sure quite what to do. It was clear that to her, this was not a dirty goose feather, it was magical and beautiful. Tossing it aside wasn’t an option. I couldn’t bear the thought of seeing her face if we crossed paths again and I had tossed aside her gift.

The perfect solution came to me and I tucked the feather into my pony tail.

I thought about the nature of giving and receiving. It’s become clear to me that being a good receiver is equally important as being a generous giver. This tiny girl’s face lit up the world with joy when I accepted her gift, I can’t help but think that her light would have dimmed if her gift had been rejected or ignored.

On the final stretch of my walk I encountered the group again. Tiny brown eyes looked up at me asking, “do you still have the feather I gave you?”

I pointed to my pony tail and turned around on the path, “what do you think?”

“I think it’s beautiful,” she said.

“I do too.”

She held out the three remaining feathers, “would you like one more?”

“Are you sure?” I asked.

“Oh yes, you need two.”

“Shall I put this one in my pony tail also?”

Tiny hands clapped and she said “yes.”

I tucked the second goose feather into my hair and turned so she could see it.

“Oh my, you look like you have two beautiful birds on your head.”

Words can’t describe the warmth that filled my heart or the smile that spread over my face and hers.

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Artist’s note: The feature image represents my interpretation of the day. Out of context I doubt it has much meaning, but I like to think that my little friend would find it beautiful.

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Rain Doesn’t Make a Day Awful, it Just Makes it Wet

Saturday was a plan C sort of day. A few weeks ago my friend Dan invited me to join him and his parents to check out the Tall Ships Festival on the riverfront in Philadelphia. A trip into Philly to spend an afternoon with friends is always fun and the festival was a unique opportunity to learn a little about naval history.

L’Hermione, L’Hermione, “A French replica of the 145’ long Concorde class frigate of the French Navy.” Image credit: Tall Ships® Philadelphia Camden

As luck would have it, the forecast for Saturday was 100% chance of rain in the afternoon, not exactly the best kind of weather for an outside activity like touring massive ships with very tall masts and impressive sails.

Dan called to let me know that our group had expanded from 4 to 6 people and because of the rain he was organizing plan B, a visit to the Barnes Foundation Museum and dinner in Center City. Exploring one of the finest collections of Post-Impressionist and early Modern paintings sounded like a perfect way to spend a rainy afternoon.

Between Thursday and Friday afternoon, the size of our group dwindled from 6 to 4 to 2. Dan’s condo is in the middle of a kitchen remodel and since the Barnes Foundation is something that can be visited at any time, it made more sense for his parents to visit another time. It also made sense to move to Plan C, a trip to the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

A new exhibit, Discovering the Impressionists: Paul Durand-Ruel and the New Painting, had just opened at the Museum of Art and we wanted to see the collection before it moved on to another city. We reviewed the train schedule and he ordered our tickets for the exhibit to allow for plenty of time between the trains arrival and the admission time.

I love taking the train into Philly it’s fun to be able to relax and read or people watch instead of being stressed out by heavy traffic, potholes, and parking in the city. The train station is always lively and it’s not uncommon to hear the beat of drums or a beautiful harmony created by two violins played in unison.music performers in the train station

The clapping hands and tapping feet within the audience energized the drumming, dancing, and singing. I couldn’t resist putting a dollar in each of the buckets on the “stage” that hosted these 5 enthusiastic performers.

Dan and I met up on the other side of the station and ventured out into the drizzle to hail a cab. We started our adventure at a local pub and sampled a couple of beers while catching up and waiting for our assigned time for entering the exhibit to arrive. It was a short distance between the pub and the museum and although we used our umbrellas they barely got wet.

The museum supplied an audio recording to add background and insights about various paintings and artists featured in the exhibit. It was a great idea except I couldn’t get them to work properly for the life of me. Sooo, after trying and fumbling with two different devices I gave up and just enjoyed the masterpieces through my own eyes and interpretations.

At the end of the tour Dan surprised me with a gift of 6 tiny color pencils from the museum gift shop – I think it’s one of the best presents I’ve ever received. 🙂 They’re almost too cute to use.

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Our walk from the museum to the restaurant was an entirely different story from the walk earlier in the afternoon. I held my umbrella as close to my head as possible and followed Dan’s feet through the wet sidewalks and puddle filled streets.

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By the time we got to the restaurant our clothes were dripping and we could do nothing but laugh about our state of severe sogginess. I think it’s a good thing that I didn’t look in a mirror, I can only imagine that my hair must have resembled something that belonged on the head of a clown and not anything like it did when I started the day.

The restaurant is located in a renovated firehouse and has some of the best beef brisket I’ve ever eaten. (In case you’re wondering, the person in the picture is a random stranger who was sitting at the bar)

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It’s across the street from the Eastern State Penitentiary Museum – which is now on my list of “must do adventures.”

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After dinner we managed to hail a cab to the train station, but not quite soon enough to avoid getting drenched again – proving once again that neither of us were going to melt in the rain.

In reality, it would have been tempting to stay home and plan our adventure for a sunny or at least dry day, but we would have missed out on an awesome day and time spent with a good friend.