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Today as I was working in my  kitchen getting ready for Easter I became very aware of my surroundings.   I was alone for the most part with Jim coming in and out,  driveway door open,  sun streaming in.

What I became very aware of first was the smells.  They caught my attention in a rather pleasant way.  Fresh baked scones,  blueberry for Jenna,  she is allergic to nuts and for the rest of us, maple walnut with figs.  All gluten free because my son can not tolerate gluten.They smelled so yummy and it was difficult for me not to "pick" at them.   I have a very bad habit of picking.  Then on a whisp of wind the smell of sauteed veggies.   Nothing smells as good as olive oil mixed with onions, mushrooms and a host of other colorful garden delights. Breath it in and your almost to heaven.   Keibasi,  my favorite Easter polish sausage, the blend of wonderful spices.   Amazing how smells just draw us in and fill us up.  They make us very aware of the present moment but also of moments and special celebrations of the past.  Easter,  it is here in all it's Glory and I carry on my Mom's traditions as I get ready for our Easter brunch tomorrow.   It was always Easter brunch at Mom's.  We all came and now it is my turn.   I think of her especially at Holiday times because no matter what our circumstances and they were not always prosperous,  she always made the holidays special.

I look around my kitchen,  I see a stem of a beautiful deep purple hyacinth sitting on my window sill,  sun streaming in and lighting it up and sending me it's own special smell, it sings Spring to me.   A pink bouquet sitting on my counter.   I turn and see pastel colored sprinkles on peanut butter cupcakes waiting for Liam to come.  Sprinkles get him every time.   I can see his smile even though he is not in this room.  Macaroon gluten free cookies for Chris,  Fig squares (for me).  Nut free for Jenna.  Luke and Jim eating everything..something for every one.   The Easter Bunny did his job.

I am so aware of my surroundings,  I notice the driveway door is open with Jim coming and going as he works on putting Liam's first tricycle together.  There is a happy flow here in my space,  a sense of peace as I see Gracie laying in the sunlight on her mat waiting for whatever might fall from the counter.  She sleeps in between glimpses of people and drops.  My steady companion always.  

It was then that it occured to me how very Blessed I am in this time of re-newal.  The beauty of spring,  my family close by, dropping in frequently,  growing up with Liam practically next door and the coming of Easter.  I believe in Blessings and the promises the bring.   We are in God's hands and all is well and wonderful.

Happy Easter and Hallelujah...



"Kindness Matters"


Fateful Encounter

Every once in awhile,  not very often, a set of circumstances come together unexpectedly and when that happens it gives me pause and stops me in my tracks and I spend days processing the details.  I had this happen to me recently and it really set me to wondering, coincidence or meant to be.

Last week during coffee hour at church I was standing with my daughter and she looked over at another woman and said "oh look she has a Kooba".  I looked to where she was pointing and didn't see anything out of the ordinary.  She could tell I was puzzled so she said "Mom her bag is a Kooba and it's very expensive. " Oh really, what the hell is a Kooba and why is it so expensive."   Jenna then told me that she also had a Kooba and that she got hers on E-Bay.   Jenna is a smart E-Bay shopper.   I am not.  Both times that I purchased high price items they came from China and believe me it is not easy to do a return to China. Let's just say I got taken.  I don't do E-Bay anymore.

Since I knew this woman very well, Jenna and I went to talk to her and we both remarked about her Kooba and with a smile on her face she declared, "I love my Kooba", and told us the story of how she found it in New York at a great sale.   Her daughter also told her about it.   It sounds like we would all be fashion freaks without our daughters.  Now I am not one who wants to be out of the loop so I thought, well I'll go home and look that little (big) Kooba up to see what I've been missing and what makes it so expensive and why have I never heard of this so very soft leather bag.

Needless to say when I got home I forgot all about that bag.   The next day though, after coming out of the dentist,  maybe I was looking for comfort,  I remembered that bag so I called my daughter because by now 24 hours had passed and of course I forgot the name of the damn bag.  I told her that I forgot to look it up and just wanted to know the name so that if I ever came across it I would know what I was looking at.  I do a lot of shopping and poking at re-sale shops and hey I need to know these things.   We hung up and before you know it I was at Trader Joe's and had moved on from the bag.

One last stop before heading home,  I had a return to do at TJ MAXX  and I promised myself no looking because I will spend money and waste my precious Monday, one of two days that I get the house to myself and I revel in that time.   Anyone who knows TJ Maxx knows that upon entering the store the first section on the left is the pocketbook section.  How much time can one quick look take.  I really need a new black purse since mine just went to the re-sale shop...a tiny peek.  My favorite peeking place is always the clearance rack.  I whip around the corner and nearly dropped on the floor as a great big Kooba tag caught my eye, not 10 minutes after talking to my daughter.  My first response was "Holy Shit".  This can't be happening.  How could that bag, that I had never heard of before yesterday,  in the color that I want (brown) in the size that I need,  be staring at me in TJ Maxx.  Just breath.  This is to weird and I am rooted to the floor, like bees to honey,  trying to sort this out.  I pick it up and check the inside.   It's authentic,  it's soft,  it's strong and now it's testing me.   I call Jenna right away with shaking hands,  whispering so no other woman in the store will hear the word Kooba and fight me for it.   I don't even dare to put it in my cart for fear while I'm looking at something else some one who knows more than I do will come along and steal it from me.   Jenna's response is "Mom why are you going on about the bag,  you didn't even know about it yesterday and it's a lot of money".   I know its' a lot of money but it's on CLEARANCE.  It's on clearance because people who shop at TJ Maxx don't know anymore about it than you do and even on clearance they can't afford it.

O.K.  so that's the story but that is not what this is really about.   What this is about is how could that have happened.   Was it fate.  Was it what I call "meant to be".   Was it the devil messing with my mind.   I have always gone by the premise that nothing happens by accident.   All encounters are meant to be and depending on what you do about them or when the encounter happens somehow it becomes a part of you.   Like if someone wasn't somewhere on a certain day or at just the right time then they wouldn't have meet someone and they would never have hooked up.   Of if you hadn't left the house late you could have been in a terrible accident that happened on the route you travel every day at the time you would have gotten there.   I ponder these things and I believe that when we are confronted with a set of circumstances it does make us stop and think of the "bigger meaning".   It happens to all of us and depending on the outcome we know that something cosmic has happened.   Why,  why me,  why now.   If I had never gone into TJ Maxx that pocketbook would have gone home with someone else and I wouldn't have cared.  But I did see it and it became a catalyst for me to once again exam how these things happen and why.   Is it bigger than we know or is it just that I wouldn't have noticed if that conversation hadn't happened the day before.

So here's what I think after many hours of processing this event.  I think that bag was "meant to be".  Why else was it there.   Yes it was expensive, even on clearance,  but I knew it was highly unlikely that I would run into that bag again.  Did I need it.   No, but at my age it's not always about need anymore,  it's simply about want.  I wanted it.  There it was in my color and so now it's in my home,  still in it's bag.   See the other thing I told myself is,  I better take it and I can always return it but if I don't take it and someone comes along knowing what a Kooba is...I'd be telling you a different story today...

So I wonder about that fateful encounter and it gives me pause to wonder about other fateful encounters in my life and I hope for the most part I've chosen the right road and came up with the right answer when each dilemma accured.   We never know do we or maybe sometimes we do.   The Kooba is small potatoes compared to most fateful encounter's.....are you pondering some of your own right now..

I think I need to go ponder getting lunch..Have the best day.


Kindness Matters.


A Dream Deferred


What happens to a dream deferred?

                Does it dry up

            Like a raisin in the sun?

              or fester like a sore..

                   and then run.


That's what I had started thinking about this past year.   It was a year to take stock of where I was going or even if I was going.   I had so many dreams for myself in this world of photography and yet I didn't feel that I was making much progress in my efforts to get there.  I was like that perverbial "bump on the log", coming to my computer every day,  checking mail,  facebook and flickr.   Easy and relaxing.. then I would go to bed feeling unfullfilled,  saying,  tomorrow, there is always tomorrow...


Well tomorrow finally came after lots of reflection and sifting through my brain for the real cause of my "road block" and it was a road block that didn't happen overnight,  I'd been bumping up against it for at least a year. I realized that I was the only one who could make this happen if I wanted it bad enough.   Sure it was  scary and I knew it would be difficult.    I am not a computer wiz..but  I knew I couldn't sit frozen in my chair any longer.   I also knew what I wanted to do.    So now the task of pushing through the fear of  all the learning curves was the only way to get to the root of my own creative self.   Was I willing to do the work this time.   Was I willing to take the leap of faith that tells me I am creative and that I just to have to stick to the process like frosting on a cake,  to enjoy the benefits of my creative skills.


I spent the month of December, 2011 dreading the month of January 2012.  I wallowed in a sadness and fear that I had not experienced in many years.  I could not shake this feeling of doom that was hanging over me.   My mind wandered and fretted over the smallest things.   My birthday was coming and I was hating it.   I can't tell you the last time a birthday took me down,  but this one did.   O.K.  I'll say it......65.   Oh my God,  how did I get this old,  I don't want to be 65.   When your 65  you get a medicare care,  are you kidding me. I don't want to carry that red,  white and blue cheesy card around.   They could of at least laminated it.  It's not going to last as long as I'm hoping I'll need it.  When you turn 65 it won't be long before you'll be 70,  holy crap.   Are you getting the idea of where I was going for the ENTIRE MONTH before my birthday.  I was going nowhere.


Then the day came.   Lord help me make it through this day.  No parties,  just a small family dinner would be fine and gifts..well it is a birthday, right.   Guess what,  the day came,  I survived and it isn't as bad as I would have though.   It was then,  after the date,  that I decided that I could either stay frozen in my "white matter of space" or I could embrace life like I have for the past 35 years, with gusto,  a sense of adventure and the love and thanks of each day that I am blessed with.   None of us know how long we have,  no matter what our age,  so we better make the most of each day, living in the joy of what we love and who we love.  I love writing,  photography and my family.   I still have dreams for myself  and a dream deferred is a life not lived.


So this is my year and I've been working hard with a bit of help from my friends. Kim Klassen announced a 52 week class in Beyond Layers...very scary but I signed up.  How would I stay focused and learn for 52 weeks. I would dig my heels in and just learn whatever I could and hopefully the rest would come.   In two short months I have not missed a lesson and have become empowered again with self-confidence.  I am amazed at my dedication to this class and each week when I accomplish the task I get so excited for myself.  Way to go Cheryl.   


Then there was my blog.   I loved blogging and had recently  just started one.  I had it set up on iWeb and then late last year found out that iWeb was phasing out...oh no,  there goes my blogging days and what will happen to my photo gallery.   So I researched.  I read Blissful Blogging and The Art of Blogging and it was all so confusing.   Again,  KIm came to my rescue with the perfect blog site for me to try.  For me it has a hugh learning curve but I plugged along,  with the help of my husband (my personal techie) and we both learned and learned some more.   It has been a challenge and some days I have had to walk away but today,  for the first time,  I'm blogging again on my lovely new web-page...Way to go Cheryl


So if has been an interesting journey being 65, I said that a bit easier this time. I know that I will continue to learn,  to blog and to build my creative life with my dreams.   They are all there in my head and in my heart. No longer on the deferred list.  I have a renewed energy,  a sense of purpose again and a longing to get it "all done".    This is just the beginning of this web-site...check back in later and you'll see my Photo Web site.   I haven't started it yet but in my mind, it is finished. 


So my friends,  welcome to Cheryl's World.   Come often,  grab a cup of tea and enjoy life with me.   It will be a wonderful ride.  What about you...any dreams your deferring because of fear.

Oh,  and someday...I'm going to write a book...

Carpe Diem my friends.


A hugh thank you to Kim Klassen for all you do each day for all of us who need a bit of stroking.   Your the best.   And to Jim,  who knows how to navigate the web so much better than I do.  I just know how to navigate him..with love.


Poem by Langston Hughes




Goodbye August

September has arrived and I welcome it.   This will be a good month.
I know this because on Day One I went Kayaking,  in Maine, with my son.
A beautiful day,  with a beautiful soul to help me put  August behind me.
He is a reminder of all that is good and beautiful on this planet.   He is here to tell me that even when sad things happen I will heal because of all the wonders in my life.
Sometimes we get bogged down in the “things of life”.   It not us in particular,  it’s just the way of things.  When sad things happen we have to work through the grief and although it lessens in time it will always be there.  Along with the sadness though is all the  kindness and love that we hold dear.  So I am moving on knowing that Jeannette will always be a part of me,  also held close in my heart with all my other loved ones who are now partying with her in Heaven.
August this year was a strange month.   Starting with Jeannette and then an event at my house which unhinged me for awhile. A call to 911 made things right.  Next day  baby mice being born in my cellar freaked me out big time.   Barely got any laundry done and my work-out routine was severely disrupted which annoyed the hell out of me.   You all know how much I love my Mothering Moments but I draw the line at mice.   I believe it was the accumulation of all these events that put me in a tail-spin for a bit.   Sometimes these are the curves we are thrown and it takes a bit of peace and perspective to turn things back around.
That’s what dawned on me today as Chris and I were kayaking.   It was crystal clear on the lake and we were gliding and talking.   It occurred to me that we had not been alone out here for quite some time and it was beautiful.   As we chatted about our lives and where he was heading and where I wanted to go with my photography,  I realized once again that life is really all about the present moment.   I was able to be there.   To listen and to hear.   I was able to feel joy with just the being with him in this wonderful quiet setting.   It made me realize how precious he is,  how precious my daughter is and my husband.   Liam of course will come later with his Mom and Dad and these thoughts brought me back to Me.   I am surrounded by beauty here in Maine.   My family comes.   We share so much together.   My son in law and I might just go catch another sunrise tomorrow morning.  Liam and I will play in the sand and then go for ice cream.   Jenna and I will catch up and laugh together.  And wine at Bray’s tonight with the crew.   Perhaps next week  Chris and I will pick flowers at the farm stand together again.
So September I am so glad to see you.   Not only are you a new month of wonder,   you also bring with you a new season.   A season of putting things to my mind.   
September 2, 2011
Lovely to kayak with you on that quiet morning, of my very favorite places and, it was my first paddle of the year! so thank you for that. and, yes...let's go to farm next Wednesday for flowers and veggies. and maybe bring liam to see the pigs. 
love you.
Saturday, September 3, 2011 - 10:57 AM
sounds like a plan Chris.   I'll see you Wednesday with Liam.   
Love you
Saturday, September 3, 2011 - 11:43 AM
I'm reading this with tears in my eyes - I'm with you on this GF. So glad you had this special time with your son :-) x
Sunday, September 4, 2011 - 10:32 AM
Thanks Gwen.  I always love to hear from you.
Happy September my friend.
Sunday, September 4, 2011 - 11:36 AM



Wrapped In Love....

Life takes so many twists and turns.   One day your up,  the next your down.   My month has been like that.   I know that life brings changes and that “there is a season for everything” so I have learned to roll with the punches for the most part.
Sometimes though,  it is good and necessary to stop for a second and realize the big picture.   What your life really means and what you hold to be most important and valuable.   I had a moment like that this past week as two major events collided in my life.
On August 9th I lost one of the best friends that I had.   It was sad and I knew that life had changed for me with Jeannette’s loss.   I knew that I would miss her always but I also knew the gifts she had given me were lasting.
On August 18th,  43 years ago I gained another friend.   We are still together, him and I and as these two events in my life presented themselves to me within a week of each other I was forced to take a deeper look at what this mystery of life is all about.
On March 2,  1962  Jim and I declared our “puppy love” by announcing we were going “steady”.   Seems so funny now.  I don’t believe anyone uses that term anymore.   Going steady at 15 years old and dating for a few months while I was just 14.   Today I think of that as being a baby.   Back then I thought I was all grown up.   I had a lot to learn about life and love.   
Over the years we dated,  broke up,  got back together and then in 1968 we decided to get married.   So young back then,  so naive, so sure we could conquer the world.   We grew into adults together,  learning about life and love from each other as we traveled a rough and rocky road sometimes.   Even in the tough times,  as I look back now,  I know what got us through was that we liked each other,  way before we ever loved each other.   I don’t even think back then we really knew what love was.   Passion maybe,  but not love.   Love grows....just like families and friends and pets.   You have to do the time to get the results.   And you have to do the work...Not saying it was always easy.
From that friendship we grew a family...we had pets we took care of parents,  we lost my brother at a young age and now we have lost two very close friends.   
The good news is that we have wonderful and loving children.   Jenna and Chris are kind and sensitive and caring.  They treat us with great respect and continue to include us in their lives on a regular basis.   When I think of them and how they conduct their lives I am so proud of both of them. A few years back we were lucky enough to adopt another “son”.   Luke came to us through Jenna and he is so easy to love and just fits right into our life like he’s been here forever.  Now we have Liam.....the gift of a lifetime of learning how to love.   There is no learning with him though.   It oozes from him.   He brings sunshine and laughter every time we are with him.   I often ask myself how one tiny little person can breath so much joy day after day.   I don’t have an answer but I do thank God each night for the gift of him.
Jim and I are now in a place in our lives where we are free to choose how to live and where to go. We own two homes, travel whenever we want,  where we want and I must say we have seen some wonderful sights,  mostly though Maine is what draws us and our family.   It is a haven in a beautiful space.   I always say as the years pass,  we live a charmed life.   I wouldn’t want to be anyone else but me.   A friendship that started almost 50 years ago has grown into a love affair of a lifetime.   Not many people get to share what we have.   I will tell you it has not always been a party,   there were several “don’t let the door hit you in ass on the way out” days,  but we always managed to work through those.   In the end,  the friendship won out.
So last Thursday as we celebrated our anniversary in Portsmouth,  New Hampshire at a beautiful hotel that Jenna gave us as a gift for Christmas and with both of the kids driving up to meet us for dinner,  I knew that I was wrapped in love.   Love is the greatest gift.   I have been wrapped in it by Jim for all these many years.   My children continue to wrap me in their arms each time we meet and part.   Now Liam puts out his little arms when he feels the need and says “hug” and I bend down to him and he squeezes me tightly.   My dog and my friends let me know each day that I am also wrapped in love with them.   Jeannette will be with me each time I see a white butterfly.   I have learned a lot about love with Jim....and we have moved forward together to hopefully share our love with all who are a part of our world.
Wrapped in feels good and warm and snuggly, like
the new winter coat,   wrapped in a great big box,  on the bed of the hotel room, a surprise. Once again a reminder of Jim’s love for me.   And then I wrapped him in a hug.
August 21, 2011:
Getting to know you throug this journey of your life, makes me so happy for both of you and for your family. You have been blessed and the best part is that you know and appreciate it each day. I wish you all long, happy and healthy trails for many more years.
Tuesday, August 23, 2011 - 06:23 PM:
Chris Dunham
Oh, that's from me....
Tuesday, August 23, 2011 - 06:24 PM:
Thanks Chris.   Such a lovely comment.   You have become such a good friend.   Wishing you the best always.   xoxo
Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 04:09 PM
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