SAFE and SECURE

My new little buck checking in with me to see if he’s welcome ~ his body language says it all ~ “Is it okay if I come in?”

Watching the animals I think about safety and how it’s the initial necessary ingredient in any relationship.

Newborn-> mother; child -> parents; growing child -> teachers, friends and authority figures; spouse-> spouse; friend -> friend. Even animals respond to what they perceive to be a safe person or place.

One of my neighbors recently saw the deer lying under the trees on my property and said to me, “I’ve not seen them do this before. They must really feel safe at your place.”

When I thought back about it, it made me glad that over the past several years numerous ones have come to realize they are safe with me and feel comfortable enough to gather under my trees and just ‘be.’ I’ll peep out my windows and see them throughout the day just resting among the trees, doing nothing ~ but obviously feeling very safe and secure around my home.

I watch them squabbling with one another or sometimes observe the older ones grooming the little ones. I’ll see them share a nibble of corn or berries, and then take off running in circles through the trees in playful interaction. Then, more often than not, they all gather back around where the cabin lady is standing and watching. They communicate to me they indeed feel safe and secure in this space ~ to just ‘be.’

They appear to grow and interact in safety, at least here with me. The initial seed in our relationship was a strong and good one….it’s been tended well through the years.

Prior to writing my thoughts here on safety, I put them aside for several weeks and allowed them to simmer on the stove of reality. I then returned to my writing efforts acknowledging there’s also a perception of safety – a potentially dangerous and unhealthy place to live. Situations can feel normal and safe simply because it’s all one knows or has experienced.

Animals teach so much if we’ll take time to watch and ponder their behaviors and reactions. They have some great teachings on ‘safety’. It’s likely us humans may benefit from being more discerning creatures. The sooner perception and reality meet, the better.

“We have more to learn from animals than animals have to learn from us.”

-Anthony D. Williams

“Some people talk to animals. Not many listen though. That's the problem.”

- A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh #1
“Take a deer, for example – they peacefully flow from one activity to another, searching for berries, fresh water, or just enjoying their surroundings. If you get the chance to observe this graceful creature in action, you will surely forget about everything except the present moment.”

- 10 Lessons We Need to Learn from Animals
- Power of Positivity
“You can always tell about someone by how they put their hands upon an animal.”

-Betty White
“An animal's eyes have the power to speak a great language.”

-Martin Buber
Us humans, in general tend to work too much and stay too busy moving at a frantic pace from one activity to another. Many times we work ourselves to the point we’re unable to even shut down and sleep. Animals relish in just ‘being’ and know how to rest unashamedly… they’re experts at being observers and soaking in the beauty around them. It appears they don’t allow a competition of ‘stuff’ in their environment. They are superb teachers on how to rest in their ‘safe place.’

- mountain girl
Cling to trusted friends once you find them

- mountain girl
You’re safe here with the boys and me ~ no worries
Hello gorgeous ~ welcome
“Man is the cruelest animal.”
Friedrich Nietzsche
 “While I know myself as a creation of God, I am also obligated to realize and remember that everyone else and everything else are also God’s creation.”  – Maya Angelou
My first angel buck
"How it is that animals understand things I do not know, but it is certain that they do understand. Perhaps there is a language which is not made of words and everything in the world understands it. Perhaps there is a soul hidden in everything and it can always speak, without even making a sound, to another soul." 

― Frances Hodgson Burnett
Animals, nature ~ God’s voice, safety 

From a mountain girl’s heart

EARTH DAY ~ A BEAUTIFUL DAY

“To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring--it was peace.”  
Milan Kundera

Who has altered, caused destruction and ruin, polluted, littered, disrespected and disassembled so much of the Creator’s creation?

Things which have intruded upon nature ~ yes, even our homes tucked away in the woods. Many priceless jewels replaced with structures that ultimately go to ruin over time.

Purity
Peace

Do the most nourishing elements on our earth stem from the purity of the untouched? It doesn’t require much travel to witness what the plans and hands of mankind have been very adept in ruining. How can the clean, pristine, pure mountain air be replaced for something better ~ or the millions of trees which make up a forest, or magnificent rocks that create stability for mountains, or the structure of the ocean floor? Each a very specific reason for being ~

It's Your Earth
By Kelly Roper

It's your earth.
Will you neglect it,
Or nurture it?
Will you tend it,
Or squander it away?
The choice is yours,
But if you're going
To make a stand,
You'd better start today.

Time spent breathing fresh air, absorbing vitamins from the sunshine, drinking water trickling down a mountain rock, rolling around on fresh grass, allowing a crisp breeze to brush your skin, using the eyes to capture visual miracles, letting the ears intentionally take-in silence, giving the legs an opportunity to utilize their muscles to climb or descend, permitting the fingers to pull a fresh berry and taste it ….. nature provides each. The cost? Free.

Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.
—Albert Einstein

Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.
—Henry David Thoreau

To me a lush carpet of pine needles or spongy grass is more welcome than the most luxurious Persian rug.
—Helen Keller
Mother Nature was entrusted to us ~ 

From a mountain girl’s heart

BLOOM WHERE YOU’RE PLANTED

Bloom ~ a beautiful process of becoming 

Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can.” Arthur Ashe

As winter’s gray sky begins to turn blue, seeds sprout to blooms and cooler days turn to warmer ones ~ a reminder to me that humans align pretty well with the typical progression of nature.

What’s been less than bright and pristine ~ things that have left us feeling cold and maybe in a time when our personal blooming (in our eyes) is minimal ~ as long as one has breath, there’s still the possibility of blooming again or maybe even for the first time.

Withered brown leaves, broken branches, flimsy stems, or timid blooms ~ possibly from too much sun, too much shade, lack of water or being overwatered, insufficient fertilizer or being scorched from the effects of over fertilizing, inappropriate placement in the environment, insufficient pruning….issues with growth always to be considered

Some flowers require very unique and specific care from an individual while others adapt and thrive beautifully simply because they’re a part of nature.


“There is a part of blooming which I did not understand, you see. You can be a flower all your life but still not understand it. Blooming is one thing; but blooming where you are planted is another. It's so easy to say, "I will bloom when I am there", but you need to be saying, "I will bloom right here, where I was planted." Because until I bloom "right here", I'm never going to actually bloom; because we cannot do it in concept, you see, we must bloom now. We must bloom here. The flower must trust.”
C. JoyBell C.

So it is with humans ~ the responsibility rests with each to cultivate, prune, plant, re-plant, and fertilize throughout life to hopefully produce healthy blooms.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

“A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it. It just blooms.” 
“Bloom where you are planted.” 
All photographs I took at the beautiful Young Harris College campus 4.11.21

From a mountain girl’s heart

SPRING AND EASTER BLESSINGS

“Let the resurrection joy lift us from loneliness and weakness and despair to strength and beauty and happiness" Floyd W. Tomkins

What depicts spring and Easter more beautifully than the blossoming of colorful flowers, the growth of fresh green pasture, and the gentleness of humble animals? Each is a visible testament that our Creator has not given up on sharing beauty with us and showing us that new growth continues to occur season after season.

Whether it’s picking a single flower from the roadside or gathering an armful from a flower farm, pulling fresh strawberries from a runner, or maybe cutting the first tall grass of spring and then inhaling the fresh fragrance, or just observing the gentleness of an innocent animal and how little it asks for ~ each can bring a resurgence in our hearts and outlook and remind us that all ‘simple’ beauty is a great blessing. Sometimes enough to move us through another day. Eyes to see, ears to hear, hands to touch, the sense of smell, legs to walk.

“Open your eyes to the beauty around you, open your mind to the wonders of life, open your heart to those who love you, and always be true to yourself.”

Maya Angelou
“Now if I believe in God's Son and remember that He became man, all creatures will appear a hundred times more beautiful to me than before. Then I will properly appreciate the sun, the moon, the stars, trees, apples, as I reflect that he is Lord over all things. ...God writes the Gospel, not in the Bible alone, but also on trees, and in the flowers and clouds and stars.”

Martin Luther
Reading with the heart is the greatest education

From a mountain girl’s heart

WEATHER THE STORMS ~ YOU JUST MIGHT GET ANOTHER CHANCE

“One small crack does not mean you are broken, it means that you were put to the test and you didn’t fall apart.” –Linda Poindexter

Almost two years ago I found this chunk of wood washed-up, discarded, and soaked throughout with many splintered pieces. To many it would likely be dull, ugly and meaningless appearing. To me, the brain began churning. It really was just simply an ugly chunk ~ good for nothing but to wash back out into the water, weather more storms, only to be forced back onto a desolate area by another storm, then walked over and around by animals and people. And it really was seriously ugly with several partial branches still intact ~ a real mess….. but kind of interesting at second glance.

So, making three return trips I finally devised a way to single-handedly bring this really ugly heavy treasure home with me.

I took it to the cabin of a neighbor who loves to do woodworking projects, and he was glad to add it to his ‘to-do’ list. The first issue was allowing the wood to completely dry throughout. About a year ago he began the sanding process, which turned out to be stop and go, as he would hit spots which were still moist….so back to allowing the chunk to sit and attempt drying. The issue is here in our area, we seem to have more rainy days than dry, sunny ones. So, this process drug into the second year ~ all the while me running over to his cabin on sunny days, opening the garage and placing the chunk out in the sun ~ my neighbor travels a lot, but when he returned home he would go back to his hit and miss sanding attempts.

I finally took a long look at the chunk one day and told my neighbor I’d be satisfied to just take it ‘as it was’ at that point. He adamantly insisted I leave it and allow it to continue drying and he would keep sanding and tweaking its imperfections, then finish it off with the stain and polyurethane process. At the completion point he’d be happy to present it to me free of charge.

Into two years……okay, I was ready to bring the Chunk to my cabin regardless of how it looked. It had a pretty smooth finish at this point, but during the drying process it had cracked and still could literally use a little more drying and a tad more tweaking on the sanding. Regardless, I made a decision one day when my neighbor was out of town, off the mountain or whatever you call it-to kidnap the Chunk. I recruited another neighbor to help me move the Chunk to its final home.

We got it in my garage so I could begin the stain and polyurethane process ~ which took me about a week, working on it at intervals.

So now the Chunk will be a special part of the cabin’s big porch ~ a foot stool to be used when in the hammock swing or as a beverage table, a book or laptop stand, a flower pot holder or most likely just something else the squirrels enjoy, or the Westies hike a leg on ~ oh well, I’m at least glad Chunk has found a home and got spiffed up in the process ~ his grains really are beautiful now and his little arms very unique.

“The whole world is, to me, very much "alive" - all the little growing things, even the rocks. I can't look at a swell bit of grass and earth, for instance, without feeling the essential life - the things going on - within them. The same goes for a mountain, or a bit of the ocean, or a magnificent piece of old wood.”
Ansel Adams

From a mountain girl’s heart

LITTLE GIFTS OF ‘HAPPINESS’

“It’s the simple and little things in life that bring happiness.”

I had someone once tell me they’d come to understand “God wasn’t ultimately concerned with our happiness”….. hmmmmm. Why were we given the ability to smile and erupt with laughter ~ to see, hear, read and experience things to give us wonderful moments of happiness?

“And Psalm 126:2 says, “Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy.” In fact, God tells us to be happy more times in Scripture than any other command.”

This last weekend as I was driving through the mountains and began to see the incredibly beautiful signs of spring evolving, those words came back to me. Happiness was mine to accept at most every turn and over each hill as I saw buds opening, colors popping and what was just days ago withered and dried trees and bushes now coming to life again in lush greens with blue mountains as a backdrop. Although not anywhere near being in full awesomeness of color, I smiled and felt happy just seeing Mother Nature coming back into color. Surely if one believes in a Master Designer one must feel happiness in seeing His ongoing canvas as it’s carefully painted with each new season. Happiness.

“Laughter is the best medicine” 
Happiness

Joy is embedded deep within, unmovable. Agreed, happiness is fleeting as our lives create circumstances and emotions to where at times we feel as though we’re riding a roller coaster, but what would our days be without sprinkles of happiness throughout? I think the God I know must certainly be happy Himself to know my heart is happy among the times of sadness which is inevitable in all lives.

Happiness is taking a drink of crystal clear pristine mountain water pouring from the side of a mountain or dipping a foot into a chilled mountain stream in the warm summer, feeling a crisp breeze blowing across a sweaty and heated body as one trudges a steep trail, seeing the smile on someone’s face as they caress the beautiful fur of my dogs, the childlike fun of splashing through a puddle of water, opening the door at dawn and being slapped in the face with pristine chilled air and being able to fully inhale and exhale it, a new pair of shoes on the feet, the excitement of seeing an incredible display of color as I round a corner on a mountain or as I view the vastness and beauty of a mountain range laid out before my eyes. Happiness.

Satisfying, refreshing, and enough ‘push’ to keep us going. Happiness is.

Happiness ~ a zillion forms it may take in our lives. A quick interspersed boost of fuel to keep us moving and hoping.

Happiness shines, relaxes, encourages, lifts one’s self and others, calms an environment, creates beauty. Happiness is found in the simple, in child-like discoveries, in imagining, in creating. Little happies are good.

Giving or receiving a smile, a basket of fresh fruit or vegetables, a cool breeze, a romp through an apple orchard, waking-up to rain pounding on the roof, strolling the empty sidewalk at night peering into the merchants’ gorgeous windows, a conversation or just a check-in with a friend, a new jar of local honey, doing something kind for another, cuddling in a big soft chair by the fireplace or swinging on the porch with the mountain air stirring, the sound of a generator cutting-on when the power inside has gone off, the smell of fireplaces burning in the cold months, walking in a chilled stream on the rocks, sitting on the bank of a river and doing absolutely nothing, the divine smell of a bar of locally made soap, the sight of a bright green pasture enveloped with blue mountains and fog, a pot of soup simmering on the stove. Chocolate. Eyes to see, ears to hear, legs to walk. Happiness.

A dear friend who recently had to let two of her long-time rescue fur kids go to the Rainbow, told me this week: “I told my husband all it takes to make me happy is a couple of dogs.”

I had to laugh as I agreed with the simplicity. Yes, they’ve already brought in another rescue fur baby to join the one they still have. The point ~ happiness.

A joyful heart makes a face cheerful, but a sad heart produces a broken spirit. Proverbs 15:3

  • “There are three main things that make people happy: close relationships, a job or past-time that they love and helping others. On the other hand, money and material things do not have a lot to do with happiness, and people who emphasize them are less happy than those who do not.”

Little, individual minute by minute happiness ~ ultimately make up a lifetime. What little things make you happy? Grab all you can and fill-up your bag.

From a mountain girl’s heart

NORMAL ~ ARE YOU?

Normal ~ how many have ever truly known normal? Where and when is one’s normal established and by whom?

Who would’ve imagined this time last year normal as we had known it, would, as it appears now, be gone forever. ‘Normal’ as a world, a nation, a state, a county, a neighborhood, and ultimately down to our individual homes. Are we now enveloped in a new normal with no ending?

Even if we 1-2-3-x-y-z —— it appears we may never get back to the normal we once knew without ongoing restrictions, requirements and induced fears. If one is locked into a ‘must do’ list, is normal truly attainable? Is our country going to end up with two columns of people: the ‘we’ll do as you say’ folks and the ‘we’ll do as we want’ folks.

Will I resign to a new normal or will the normal it’s taken almost a lifetime to create be mine to keep and protect? Is my normal God and self-created or created by man?

What does normal cost and must I change and have a new normal to survive in today’s world?

“Normal is how you perceive normal, not what others tell you is normal.”
Sean Thomas
“To study the abnormal is the best way of understanding the normal.”   William James

Once one’s escaped abnormal, normal is waiting to be created and lived. It’s a gift we give ourselves, unfortunately many times with great pain involved. Sifting through is a tedious and ongoing work….a work few will ever choose to journey through. It’s during this process one acknowledges and faces what was the abnormal and then tackling the daily intentional work of creating a normal for one’s self, to the degree it’s possible.

Normal ~ a potentially dangerous and lethal box to jump in and stay in…depends on whose normal one is in. Life circumstances change and adjustments abound, but one’s core normal, once found is immovable.

Are you normal? If you’ve ever found yourself in abnormal and worked your way out, you’ll understand….it can be on a personal level or world level ~

From a mountain girl’s heart

AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL ~ EGGS-ACTLY

“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.” - ... 

Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes.” - ...

“The only real prison is fear, and the only real freedom is freedom from fear.” -
In the pasture Thursday evening watching and listening to the very loud geese do a fly-over

It hit me as I was having coffee, granola and blueberries early this morning ~ it’s been a year, already. Then I remembered I had made pictures on the porch Thursday of the boys when the sun was shining so brightly and Harry was enjoying basking in the rays while Bogie tucked his head through the railing hoping to spot a critter or hiker.

After work we headed down the mountain to spend some time in the pasture before the predicted rain arrived on Friday. I wanted to run it and obviously Bogie was in for that, so the Prince got to take it easy and enjoy the great trek down in the all- terrain stroller ~ the weather and temperature were hitting ‘perfect’ on my meter.

A year now of warnings, induced fear, enclosure, cut-off’s, cover up’s, stay away’s, do not’s or else you can’t come in….and a myriad of other things ~

Each to his or her own, at least for now. Depending on the world or environment one has lived in in past days, these last twelve months may have caused feelings and thoughts from times past to surface. Feelings and memories which must be moved through daily, a step at a time ~ but faced with the reality of what was, what has been moved through and fought for and now ~ where others say we need to or should be again. Maybe not literally in the same sense, but nonetheless a very familiar mindset.

What does freedom mean to me personally and why? A question each person must answer on his or her own according to their own heart, knowledge and convictions.

At day’s end, to me personally there’s nothing greater than freedom ~ with freedom stems every action of one’s life. What does one do all day, each day that does not involve freedom? Nothing. Freedom ~ a priceless gift.

In the pasture ~ freedom to roam
My boys couldn’t be happier
Bogie getting his run on with mom
The Prince feeling great
Bogie looking for deer and bear
Go where you feel most alive
Heading down, then to head back up
Getting dusky
The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are. You trade in your reality for a role. You trade in your sense for an act. You give up your ability to feel, and in exchange, put on a mask. There can't be any large-scale revolution until there's a personal revolution, on an individual level. It's got to happen inside first.
Jim MORRISON

From a mountain girl’s heart

AHHHH ~ SUNSHINE, SO GLAD TO SEE YOU

Morning Has Broken

Yusuf / Cat Stevens

"Morning has broken like the first morning
Blackbird has spoken like the first bird
Praise for the singing, praise for the morning
Praise for them springing fresh from the world
Sweet the rains new fall, sunlit from Heaven
Like the first dewfall on the first grass
Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden
Sprung in completeness where His feet pass
Mine is the sunlight, mine is the morning
Born of the one light, Eden saw play
Praise with elation, praise every morning
God's recreation of the new day
Morning has broken like the first morning
Blackbird has spoken like the first bird
Praise for the singing, praise for the morning
Praise for them springing fresh from the world"

SUNSHINE
1. a spot or surface on which the sun's light shines
A visitor at the crack of dawn this morning

GENESIS 1:5: God called the light “day,” and the darkness He called “night.”

Among so many days of rain the sun decided to visit us very brightly today. To me it felt like a long awaited gift ~ one I wanted to dive right into.

The boys and I wasted no time in getting the essential errands done, lots of them….. then we spent the day outside in the sunshine doing “cabin” stuff and welcoming roaming kids in from sunup to sundown. The air was still freezing or close to it, but the Westies love it and so do I. I find myself more productive when there’s some sunshine hovering over my tasks and efforts.

Many years ago a dear friend told me, “You alone are responsible for creating joy in your life.” Late last night I read this from another friend, “Let God define you and not others.” Hmmmm ~ along with God-given natural sunshine, I must be consistent in creating some sunshine of my own even on the dreary days, tough days ~ letting this life’s journey create my ‘definition’ according to God.

I began thinking on those two statements which were separated by many years ~ darkness to light….what can I do and have I done to intentionally open the door of life for the sun’s rays vs dark clouds? Let me count the ways – a daily assignment to review…..hopefully in some sunshine

Thank-you Sally ~ a lovely friend from the UK mailed me this simple reminder note pad ~ a cherished gift that keeps me company daily at my personal space
Still freezing this morning when the boys and I stopped in the bright sunlight and walked the labyrinth at one of the community churches
The labyrinth on a freezing morning, but sunny! Silence, serenity
The buds at the labyrinth were stretching to reach the sun’s rays this morning
A lovely girl visiting us today
So many kids today ~ counted 14 at one time ~ they appeared to be enjoying the sunshine too
Accomplished a much-needed fresh painting on a table ~ with the sunshine inspiring me
The kids were flowing through constantly today
Boys helping mom and greeting critters in the wonderful sunshine hitting the porch
“Hello gorgeous” ~ isn’t nature wonderful
Fresh paint, done
Sunbeam Harry first thing this morning ~ ready to start his day
“The present is a great treasure, live in the present.”
“Your future may hinge 
on your ability
to disconnect yourself
with the world
and connect with your soul.”

From a mountain girl’s heart