Subscribe to our RSS Feeds
Blog Index

Entries in Chris (8)


Balancing Life with Books

Those of you who know me well, know how much I love Christmas.  I love everything about it.  The lights, the tree with all those tiny, sparkling lights, with branches full of ornaments from all all the world that we carefully hand carried home from our visits.  The smells, oh the smells of the past.  My Mom's peanut butter bars and my Nannies lemon bread...all reminders of Christmas pasts.  I love the company and I most especially love the boys who now bring the belief of magic and wonder back into our Christmas mornings...Oh how I love all of those things...I also love gifts...both given and received.  I love when I find the perfect gift for someone.  Each year I strive to get it right.  We are big in this family on homemade gifts and time-spent gifts.  It's amazing what turns up each year in my can.  The other gift that I cherish each year is the gift that keeps on giving...and that comes in the form of books.  Again, those of you who really know me, know that technically I could be called a hoarder of books.  That does not stop me from wanting more though and this year was a banner year for books.  They fill me up, they take me away, they make me a better writer, they teach me life lessons and I make new friends in them.  I am never alone as long as I have books.  So I thought you might like to see where and what I will be doing if I'm not visiting you as often this year...presenting my 2017 book list, as of now...

My son and I share a passion for books.  We can get lost in book shops for hours, as we often do.  We love new book stores and we especially love a good used book store.  We read a lot of the same types of books but he is always introducing me to new themes and new authors.  He does not forget my favorite people though...The books above were in his his book bag to me this year...Who doesn't love Mary Oliver and I still have more to collect of hers.  This year I got Long Life..essays and other writings.  I can't wait to get into that on. I'm also getting more serious about my meditation and Thich Nhat Hahn is one of my new favorite authors so Chris gifted me At Home in the World, stories and Essential Teachings from a Monk's Life.  Sounds so interesting.  Last in this wonderful bag is a new author to me, Margot Livesey.  Mercury is the name of this novel. Doesn't this description sound so juicy..."The midlife crisis takes many forms, some familiar, some wildly unexpected. In her riveting novel, Mercury, portrays a couple in their season of crisis. Patiently, precisely, she unfolds the layers of their drama, at once quiet and extreme.  She'll make you wonder how well you know your spouse.  

My second book bag from Chris was so much fun.  Honestly, I read each books back cover while wrapping paper was flying through the and dogs going wild, laughter and conversations all around me, but still I sat with my tea and this most lovely, themed bag.  The tag is a keeper..."To Mom, a books about books, book bag.. Got it"..Love Chris."  I have to admit, I had to read it several times before I really did get it.  All of these books are about bookstores and the books.  How cool is that.  I have already read..Time Was Soft There and I give it 5 stars. It is about a bookstore in Paris that I need to get to on my next trip over, called Shakespeare and Co., which is also a book about that store. The owner of Shakespear and Company is George and oh my the surprise when I read early on in the book that he was from Salem, Massachusetts, which is my home town.  I highly recommend both and they are both non-fiction...The other book store books will speak for themselves...until I get to read them.  Of this group, the one that speaks to my heart though is Howards End is On The Landing by Susan Hill.  A year of reading from home.  I think Chris is trying to tell me something with this one..."A passionate reminder of the importance of reading and a revealing glimpse of a writer's life.  Observer.  The basis for this Non-fiction is that Susan Hill discovered one day all the beautiful books that she had on her shelves and decided, that for a year, she would re-acquaint herself with her own book shelves.  I so need to do this and i want to do it.  So I'm going to give it a try also.  I can say right now that I won't make it but what I will try really hard to do, is only by books that I absolutely must have.  Not just everything that looks good or interesting.  I have such great books on my shelves..I'll let you know how this goes as we move through the year...

Of course, not to be left out is a wonderful photography book entitled "Hearing with the Eye." by John Daido Loori...this needs a quiet Sunday afternoon, with the fire crackling and a brandy snifter of Rum Charta...Thank you Chris for the fine books...that will bring many days of pleasure to me.  I know this is a gift from the heart...and I'm so grateful.

Now as if that weren't enough books...others in my family know me well...

My new Rumi collection from a friend of Chris's.  I did not have either of these so this willl be fun to go through and the photo's are fabulous in The Illuminated Rumi...

Finally, comes the book bag from Jim.  I think his intent is to keep me reading so that I have very little time for the News shows in the next four years...This might work.  We are both readers and not really  people so this is what we do at night, when the sound of the clicking keys from our computers go silent.  Then we love nothing more than to turn on the electric blanket and head to bed to read. This year we even bought a new mattress that goes up and down at the head and the foot of the bed.  So brilliant for reading.  This bag is a very diversified bag...but I have my eye on Lilac Girls for the near future.  I have been wanting that one for awhile..Maybe it's just the title, it sounds so lovely and the girls on the cover just look so inviting...I know, I know, never judge a book by it's cover but you know, sometimes I do and this is one of those... Another Brooklyn.  Brooklyn, the 70's, coming of age...delicious.  Herman Hesse, now there is a blast from the past. I have not read Siddhartha but I'm sure it is timeless.  A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by David Eggers.  So many awards and great book reviews.  It's non-fiction with a bit of fiction tossed in.  I'm not quite sure...but it does sound interesting.  Finally, from this wonderful collection of books from one who knows my heart so well is...Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri.  Winner of the Pulitzer Prize. It was written in 1999 and is a collection of short stories which is great for me.  I need to read more short stories because I essentially write essays and it might be good to move along a bit. Jim's bag was also themed. Except for Lilac Girls and Another Brooklyn, the other three books were from the list of 100 books to read in a lifetime. Jim's addition to my photography collection is "It's Not About the Jay Maisel.  So you see I will be busy and I can't wait to find my books a home here on the shelves.  A bit of sorting is in order to make that happen...

Strangely enough, Jenna and I also share books.  We do the mysteries and girly books.  Cookbooks and magazines...we have favorties that we pass along to each other.  It's truly a book loving family. Although I didn't get a book bag from Jenna this year, she did give me a beautiful Burbury scarf to wrap myself up in as I read.  She is my girly, girl.  So much to love there. The boys, well they have their favorite books also. Liam has just started to love early Reader books, his favorite being Bisquit. Now he is reading to us. Jaxson loves books also and his very favorite from nap days in the big bed, which he still loves is How Do I Love You.  I read that to him each day he came..and when the book was over we would find other ways to say "how do I love you" is still his favorite book.  

So books, they make the world go round.  They ground us in times of trouble.  They sooth us when we are sick. They make a bad weather day sunny in there presence.  They brighten up a coffee table, even if they are never read. Mostly though, they keep us connected to each other through discussions and sharing.  They also sometimes surprise and amaze you in a gift that you could not even imagine...

This book was written by my high school friend.  It is the last book in this series.  Terri and I became friends again on Facebook and she told me how much she enjoys Jaxsons...stories and photo's.  Now imagine my surprise and graditude when I opened her book Unraveling The Pieces and found this on the fly page: Liam, Jaxon and know what that makes this book, right?  A keeper.  Thank you Terri for your books, your words and for this I was following you, you were also following me. How sweet is that...

So at the end of the never know what your gift to world will be.  I might never write a book, actually, I'm pretty sure I won't but I do hope that my blog counts, my photo's count, books count and words spoken or written count.  Use them for good out in the world and for your own pleasure.  You never know whose reading or listening...grab someone and snuggle, with a good book.

Here's to books and an entire new year to challenge yourself...

"Books are the comfort food without the calories."  Elizabeth Berg...

“There are books of which the backs and covers are by far the best parts.” Charles Dickens.. 

The above quotes are from two of my favorite authors...they never disappoint.



The Peace of Mindfulness

This past Saturday I attended my first, half day mindfulness retreat.  It was a combination of sitting and walking meditation, along with some instructions and teachings of the Buddha.  My son, was the teacher for this day of meditation.  I had some reservations about going as I have never sat for that long and it was also a silent retreat, so I wasn't sure I could stay quiet for three and a half hours..

I arrived a bit frazzled and stressed...I was a tad late and the ride into the meditation center was quite far into the woods, on a curvy, narrow road. By the time I arrived I had a headache and my mind was all over the place. I was the last to arrive and so I just took a chair in the last row..and so we began, twenty four students learning to be in the moment, all at different levels in our journey.  I'm at the point now where I know the language pretty good and I can easily sit for 45 minutes.  This program consisted of sitting for three 45 minute sessions and two sessions of walking meditation. During the walking meditation you could go wherever you want, get a cup of tea, use the bathrooms.  It all had to be done in silence.  The grounds are so beautiful, deep in the woods with lots of Buddha's and nature to help keep you grounded.

My son is a wonderful teacher, soft spoken, gentle in his words and compassionate of peoples feelings and comfort while they are in this space.  He offers guidance, which I like, it helps to get me back to where my mind belongs when I tend to wander, which is quite natural in meditation.  The warmth of the sun streaming in the windows fills you with such a sense of calm.  It took me the entire first 45 minutes to get myself settled down and relax into my chair.  As I moved through the rest of the retreat I came away without my headache, I think I left it somewhere during my walking tea time, and such a sense of well being and goodness.  It is my intention to return for another retreat to this wonderful Center...I have come a long way in my meditation practice and it has served me well in stressful times.  I love the sitting now and the bells and the smell of that wonderful, earthy, all bring me right into the present moment..


"I like to walk alone on country paths, rice plants and wild grasses on both sides, putting each foot down on the earth in mindfulness, knowing that I walk on the wonderous earth.  In such moments, existence is a miraculous and mysterious reality.  People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle.  But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth.  Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don't even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eye of a child-our own two eyes.  All is a miracle."   Thich Nhat Hahn...From the Miracle of Mindfulness.

Chris left on Sunday for his own retreat in Burma, studing with the in the mail, I got two books from him...the one I quoted above and Peace in Every Step both by Thich Nhat Hahn, whom I love. I was surprised and delighted that he sent these to me right before he left.  He is with me still, even from the other side of the world...walking his own path...



My Boy

Two boys, two birthdays, two days apart.  Each deserving of their own space here on my blog...two boys, 35 years apart but so similar in so many ways...both gentle, kind and loving.

The one difference here is that you all know so much about Liam and Jaxson and also, on a smaller scale you know of my daughter Jenna..Chris, well he has never gotten very much "air" time and so today is his day.

His journey in life has been varied. He has experienced many unique jobs along his path to find himself and his work of 40, I am comfortable in saying that I think he has arrived and his life choice is a great gift to so many.  Along the way he was always growing in the direction of teaching, writing and living a quieter, more gentle life than most of least those of us in his family...While he was plotting his way, I was always amazed by his dedication to whatever he was working on at the moment..and his dedication has paid off.  He now owns his own Yoga and Meditation studio.  Harbor Yoga was born almost two years ago now and it has grown and expanded with wonderful programs under Chris's leadership. It is truly a most amazing gift when someone comes up to me and tells me how much my son has helped a child of their's come out of their dark space into a beautiful light...he is a mentor of the finest degree.

Of course none of this is really a surprise to me as I have been watching him grow and change. I live with his love and compassion on a daily basis...even when he was a young boy he was kind and gentle to most everyone...and there were times when I wished he would have bopped a few kids on the head...but he always did it his way.  His love of animals follows him around, leaving tracks behind him.  Family is important to him as well as nature...and together we have spent many hours in the forest collecting, both memories, sounds, sights and stillness. So to be doing the work he is now doing feels right and fitting.  I have learned a lot from Chris over these past few years...and at 40 he is his own person, living life on his own terms and really getting it.  He gets that life is meant to be lived in the moment...and he understands why "being still" is important..and healing.  He's built a practice on these principles and it's working, even for a fast paced person like me.  

What I love most about Chris is that he gets me.  Most people never really have someone that knows their core.  Most parents I think, never really know what a child thinks about them...and if they do, rarely do they express's a difficult process I think.  I have two children, a girl and a boy...they both get me on a different level...but with Chris it's more personal I think...he sees the inside and is able to communicate it in ways that make one understand that he is paying attention..his thoughtfulness in words and gifts are stunning.  Never one for commercialism for the most part..often times his gifts are handmade, with deep thought for the receiver...

Two years ago for Christmas I received this print from Chris...I opened it and thought it was gorgeous and thoughtful.  A very nice print of a teapot and some Chinese writing...what I didn't know from the start was that Chris found the print somewhere, thought of me, and from there the gift grew in his mind, hands and heart.  He brought it home and working in the workshop with his Dad, they matted it and then made the frame out of beautiful wood..a semi-home gift.  The writing on Chris's card though it what made me understand that he see's me in a way that I didn't see awakening for me.  

The story goes...a Chinese folk-tale: the man loved tea so much he decided to live in a teapot! His story symbolizes the importance of doing what we love. "If you find something that makes you happy, do that." The deeper meaning of the man's decision to live inside the teapot is simply to do whatever makes you happy, make such things the focus of your life.  I see you living this way too, Mom, "inside the tea pot."  Two things...I was blown away that he saw me in this way...but when I thought about it...most days it's true..and secondly in these years of retirement, I don't want to waste a minute, so I read this note remember that it is ok. to do what you do what makes you happy.  There are days when life is not so gentle with us..but we have to be able to push on...and this Chinese folk tale delivers that beautiful message...and of course the tea pot...was perfect for me.

I think one of the reasons I am grateful for being given these early golden years, is to see the fruits of our labor with our children and grandchildren...there really is no greater accomplishment to me...than to know that my kids are well and compassionate and know their own minds and hearts...that they go out into the world each day trying to do good.  Beyond that if you have a few times when you know that your son or daughter "gets you" and approves, now that's a gift all in itself...

So as Chris is now on his own Liam, I will continue to watch over him, support him in all he does, laugh with him and enjoy his adult company.   From the day he was born he has been finding his way...and finally, he is there...Namaste Chris...Happy Birthday....Love Mom


"Goodness is the only investment that never fails."  Henry David Thoreau

"A mature person is one who does not think only in absolutes, who is able to be objective even when deeply stirred emotionally, who has learned that there is both good and bad in all people and in all things, and

who walks humbly and deals charitably with the circumstances of life,  knowing that in this world no one is all knowing and

therefore all of us need both love and charity."...Eleanor Roosevelt




Insight..into  Meditation

I've been taking meditation classes for awhile now...some of you probably already know that my son, Chris, owns his own studio...and he is wonderful at what he does...along with teaching us how to meditate, each week he explains more about the 4 Noble a way that we can understand it.  It is not always easy but with his words..and gentle coaching I'm starting to get it...this week he explained how the Breath is really the body within the body.  I loved the sound of that and when I close my eyes and think on those words...I get it..Simple right.

So Lesson 6 of Be Still, my class with Kim Klassen, also has an emphasis on slowing down, taking time, breathing..all before hitting the shutter button.  To set ourselves up for quiet and harmony in our images...this water lily fits both Kim's and Chris's perspective on life right this moment. Insight into ourselves...slowly opening our awareness..strange that they both meet me where I stand with with the same intention... without knowing each other. Karma..perhaps, from two people I very much respect.

"In the attitude of silence the soul finds the path in a clearer light, and what is elusive and deceptive resolves itself into crystal clearness."  Mahatma Gandhi

On the image above I processed it a bit in light room and then used Kim's pre-set darkmood.  At first I wasn't sure if I liked it because it wasn't bright and brilliant but the more I thought about the theme's the perfect processing for this flower..very moody and thought provoking.


On another note...I have spent two days working on getting an e-mail subscription up and running  for those of you  who have asked for it...I am so happy to say that finally it is up working, I find new things so challenging but so pleased when it all comes together...So please, if it is easier for you, give the e-mail subscription a try...I would love to hear from you in the comment section...thanks so much for stopping all inspire me to continue doing my best both in my photography and my writing... 



Simple Things


Simple things..and a simple post.  I love simple things, neat and orderly. Because I love it does not always mean that's the way it is...but in some parts of my house I can achieve this. One place is my downstairs bathroom.

A few years ago my son did the entire room over, start to finish, just like this lesson.  Walls went out, bead board came in.  New everything, and best of all white with a bit of grey.  I just love this space.  I found a big porcelain white sink, with hugh chunky legs.  Awesome.  On the sink I keep this favorite photo of my daughter from our trip to London, my favorite hand cream and always a little flower of some sort.  The floor is white tile with just a speck of light grey running through it and all the photo's are my own, done in black and white.

It is a small space but it is a space that I love...just to go in and look at...and while I'm there, perhaps a bit of hand lotion just for the smell of it.

Happy Weekend...enjoy your own special things...