Shine the Divine:

Creativity IS a Spiritual Practice

When we see through our hearts, we recognize that every single one of us is infused with creativity. Divine Sparks are embedded in everyone and everything. It's up to us to be courageous, to look and listen deeply, to find the sparks, gather and release them back into the universe, transformed into something new. Join me as we wake up to the sacred-ordinary blessings waiting to greet us each and every day.

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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Pussy Willow






soft silver secret
swinging just within arms reach
what have you to teach?

Pussy willow wild and free the halo of your mane caught me by surprise, what joy! Your secret softness is safe with me; most folks drive this road so fast. I watch as cars speed by this passage between there and there forgetting the footpath here where immeasurable treasures await discovery, the silky silver sort, hidden between all the other twisted trees. Before I lost the gift of stride, then learned to walk again, I too passed you by completely unaware for years. To be honest, I’ve always been a seeker, yet it was the losing that downshifted me into the slow lane. And I choose to meander whenever I can, with intentional steps even on days I could move more swiftly, grateful for this life and the mysterious paths that guide me to everyday miracles like this pussy willow tree, unique among its companions, growing wild and free.




Or an eagle, yes a majestic eagle delighting (I imagine) in lunch, perhaps for his family waiting in a nest in an exquisitely tall tree, talons gripping “someone” on the river-side of the highway. We saw him early yesterday afternoon on our drive to my neurology appointment. This seemed a good talisman and indeed it was.

It has been a while since I’ve written about living with MS. The MRI I had last Friday evening shows no new changes in my brain. It is exactly the same as it was a year ago. A YEAR! This is the longest span between exacerbations since diagnosis in 2009. My doctor did point out some tiny black holes; yes my brain like the moon is made of Swiss cheese. Well perhaps a better metaphor would be the vast universe. Did you know scientists actually know more about the universe, even the theoretical multiverse, than they do about the human brain? She said the spaces are not new, however she’d never showed them to me before. *Aha, perfect segue. I just mentioned what I’m blogging about to my husband who informed me she had shown these to me before. I don’t remember, NOT at all.

So while there are no visible changes in my brain, my family and I are clearly noticing some cognitive shifts. I’m imagining the black holes swallowing the words that go missing, as well as events everyone swears I was in attendance for although I have no recollection of “said happenings” happening.

It is very strange 1. To be able to visualize an object or person, to be able to describe it or them perfectly and have absolutely no idea what it is called or what their name is. Sometimes the word or name will come to me later; other times if no one else understands what I'm talking about and can tell me, it is just gone. I mean, yeah, I know everyone has this experience from time to time, especially as we grow older, but this happens to me as though I am a LOT older than my body chronologically is. It’s weird. AND 2. Weirder still is to be told repeatedly, “But MOM you were there! What do you mean you don’t remember?”  Or, “Yeah hon, she showed them to you,” kindly softened by, “but you were probably too sick at that appointment to remember.” Swallowed whole, into those tiny black holes apparently. 

I have some cognitive testing scheduled next month and that’s good. Maybe there will be some helpful hints and coping strategies, although so far charades works for devoured words most of the time, and the edited/deleted events of my life calendar will just have to be an annoyance others live with. This wouldn’t particularly bother me since in my mind these events never happened anyway, but it is uncomfortable when my kids use accusatory or at the very least exasperated tones of voice when I’ve forgotten something that it appears had been important to them. ~Sigh. ~ Then again they are teenagers, so if I didn’t annoy, exasperate and inflame accusatory tones of voice through forgetfulness, there would be plenty (ha, ARE) plenty of other opportunities to stoke the flames. The word thing is frustrating. My loving husband’s example teaches me however that these irritations are chances to practice compassion toward my self, this amazing body with a Swiss cheese brain doing its very best in every moment. And truly, how awesome and miraculous is it that for the most part this broken body functions quite harmoniously?  That any human body mostly functions harmoniously? 

I am in remission, have been for a full year. I can walk and talk nearly every day, though by evening things start to get MS’y. I’m not complaining, just explaining the ever-changing landscape of one person’s experience with MS.

And this landscape includes awe and joy and gratitude, black holes and missing words and speech that gets mangled by dysarthria and legs that sometimes just won’t lift on their own and a majestic eagle touching down to hunt along a highway and memories gone missing and pussy willows emerging wild on a country road meandered down slowly on an afternoon when it was all systems go in this body with a Swiss cheese brain doing the very best it can moment by moment.




I met an older gentleman at the dentist office today, I’m guessing close to ninety. He was struggling to sit down. Looked me in the eyes and started to share his story even as I slipped my arms into my coat, the bum knees, his survival of kidney cancer. I said I was sorry for his troubles, told him I could understand the difficulty with a body giving out, that I live with multiple sclerosis. He asked a lot of questions, seemed surprised that I could drive, and was especially curious about treatments these days. Then he told me about his wife whose life was lost to breast cancer and his daughter's too to ovarian cancer. And I felt such deep compassion, could feel his need to connect. I didn't have to rush out the door so I stood there for quite some time listening. No one escapes loss. The losing teaches us to slow down, the losing teaches to pay attention, the losing teaches us compassion. And when you live past ripeness, like this man and many lines cross your face, you meander your way along your path. 

I can't say if he sought out a kind stranger to pause with full attention, by the way he settled heavily into the chair with a tired, audible sigh, or if it was me, the open seeker catching a glimpse of the silver halo shining from his still dense mane, remembering (yes some things I do remember) today's Omer teaching from Rav Yael: "...Moshia yishrei lev. The Mystery opens the path of the heart." ~Psalm 7:11 on this the 7th day of counting the Omer. Yesod she b'Chesed, the Indwelling Presence of Love... "Notice acts of kindness and generosity that are bestowed upon you. Notice the moments you respond to yourself and others with love." Either way, we did.

72 comments:

  1. :-) So glad you can put words to so much of this...not sure I could do the same.

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  2. Laura, this is beautiful in image and words. You handle your disease with such grace. I wonder about my own future with my mother having had Alzheimer's. I tend to have tiny twinges of fear when I become forgetful. Your photography and words are always brilliant. Thanks for sharing with us.

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  3. Laura, Your captures of the pussywillow are awesome! So is the fact that you are "holding your own". You are a blessing to your family, friends,and all who come in contact with you. Your spirit, your positive outlook on life, your kindness, and your sweet nature are to be admired by all. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us and for giving us a "push" to recognize and appreciate all the joy and blessings that are in our lives. Hugs, Mickie :)

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  4. Much love and continuing happiness to you, Laura, as you navigate ... with exquisite, precious slowness and awareness ... through each moment. "And truly, how awesome and miraculous is it that for the most part this broken body functions quite harmoniously? That any human body mostly functions harmoniously?" I was writing about the miracle of existence this morning, too! LOL And the reality of being fully present to each moment that carries us in grace. "No one escapes loss." So true. And no one escapes infinite possibilities for joyful presence. Aren't we lucky? Bountiful Blessings, m'dear! Thank you for sharing your journey through honest, glowing words/sounds.

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  5. Beautiful pictures. I'm glad to hear things are in remission for you. Hope it stays that way.

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  6. smiles...the soft pussy willow...love that...would not mind seeing one of those eagles as well...no new is good news right, from the doctor?

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  7. A very poignant glimpse into your life with MS...I admire your fortitude and grace. We have a friend who was diagnosed with MS about a year ago, and another friend who is struggling with vision problems that have had no firm diagnosis yet...but with a possibility of an MS diagnosis...I worry a bit when I can't recall a word or a name...and am often fearful of those "Senior" moments developing into something more involved...my heart goes out to you...and to my friends, who live with this ongoing condition. Blessings to you and your family...

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  8. Your listening and this sharing are true examples of chesed. Love, Mosk

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  9. really i'm always humbled by how brave you deal with the sickness and how you manage to see beauty in the everyday.. the story of the man really went under my skin...life's so fragile.. and still so full of beauty...love the pics so much

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  10. Dear Laura, my eyes are filled with tears as I read your sharing. Love your images and miss this special bush that was at a previous home. You humble me as I realize I have nothing like you are dealing with but it is making some changes in my lifestyle. May I see beauty in everything as you are doing. One differance is I am alone in this cottage except for periodic visits from children and grandchildren... Love you...

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  11. Dear Laura....I am so taken with your constant compassion...and I also will give prayers for your doggie, Ellie. What are they except extensions of our own families? They deserve the love and attention we would give to any other family member.

    Since Lord Jizo is front and center in my life (Shinto), I will place Ellie's name and yours on my altar and pray. Lord Jizo will give comfort as he/she protects women, babies, the stillborn and animals.

    Thank you, dear, dear friend for your courage in facing life...yes...none of us escapes loss. You are an example to me of the best.

    Love,
    Lady Nyo

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  12. Thank you for your attentive witness and compassion—and the clarity and candor of your prose and photography. I have pussy willows growing on a tree in my yard but they bloom so high I can't glimpse them closely so I appreciate your great images bringing them near. As always, thank you for your light.

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  13. I don't know if my comment took...but I'll check back later, dear heart.

    Love,
    Lady Nyo

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  14. Interesting that scientists know more about the universe than the human brain! I admire your openness about MS, and I am so happy that you are in remission. And the conversation you had with the older man was very poignant.

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  15. Love the pictures and words ~ Happy to read that you are in remission ~ Cheers to you ~

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  16. Every good talisman is welcome. So pleased that you are in remission. Continued blessings for you.

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  17. Thanks for sharing parts of you with us. You do find that everybody is battling something if you just listen. Love your photos.

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  18. Bless you dear, Laura. I know it must be challengning, but you are a miracle and a blessing to so many... especially atuned to the needs of others. So happy for your year-long plus remission!

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  19. the softness of pussy willows brings tranquility and joy into our hearts

    where is the food when mother is not?

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  20. Glad you are in remission, too. So sorry you have had such a rough time.

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  21. My dear Laura,
    You are an inspiration and your heart is open.
    Blessings to you. xo

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  22. Laura, I learned more about you in the moments reading this than I have in the last two years; mostly due to the fact that I've always been too busy to listen and watch, probably. Thank you so much for sharing this aspect of your life and your gift.

    I've learned to slow down and pay attention to more than the earth in the past few months. That was probably a factor as well. I've always enjoyed this second home of yours. Now I understand why it is as it is and can applaud it more fully from a heart filled with appreciation for you.

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  23. Your images are lovely... And your story so brave and touching.

    And you are right, the losses do teach us those things.

    I'm so glad you had that bit of good news.

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  24. As always, I am awed and humbled by your grace. You inspire me more than you know, Laura.

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  25. Dearest Laura,
    Beautiful image of Willow and blessing to you from Japan☆☆☆
    Thank you very much for your sweet comment. Love and Hugs, xoxo Miyako*

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  26. Mine aren't in bloom yet. Lovely shots of this fuzzy bud.

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  27. Beautiful images Laura. Thank you for giving us some insight into your journey with MS - hopefully it will encourage us all to be more compassionate in our own journeys through life. Blessings.

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  28. I always enjoy so much reading your posts Laura, and how you have taken a life changing problem and with courage allowed it to open your life up in ways that are quite profound in its appreciation of the universe's natural, simple beauty and wisdom.

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  29. Beautiful pictures and a great accompanying story. I wonder how many people are out there who, like you, kindly exchanged words/talked to strangers. Someone wise told me before that it costs us nothing to stop and talk even with strangers for a while but for others, it means the world. Have a great Wednesday!

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  30. Sooo VERY glad you're in a good place right now Laura! I pray the good stretch continues! :o) And that your dog Ellie will find wellness again. I'm late to visiting here--down with the flu for almost a month! Getting back on track, slowly...((HUGS))

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  31. Beautiful...and wonderful commentary! It's been YEARS since I've seen a pussy willow. This was a special treat for me.

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  32. So happy for your news - sending prayers for your continued remission and good health. K

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  33. These are so beautiful and so poetic pictures!!! And background is so beautiful!!!

    I am glad that I found your blog. It's amazing!

    Greetings from Kaya

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  34. Love your Haiku and the pussy willow is awesome. Happy to hear that all is going fine right now. I come from Helen's Haiku blog. Have a wonderful day and take care.

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  35. Will have you and your precious Ellie in my thoughts Laura. xo

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  36. Great post and beautiful shots.

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  37. Thank you Laura. Good thoughts, good for me to read.

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  38. You may be a former art and yoga teacher, but you have a poet's spirit. Your writing brought a sense of delight to me this morning. I didn't have time to finish looking at everyone's posts on Tuesday Muse and saw the pussy willow and said, "This one." I remember pussywillows from my childhood. I think they always delight children. I haven't seen one in years. I continued reading, and learned about your MS. A dear friend of mine has MS. She doesn't stay in touch...suffered the loss of her second husband and then another special man in her life, and now she no longer writes me and I get Jacquie Lawson "cards" from her on holidays and at least know she is still there. I pray for her because I don't "where" she is with her condition. It was helpful to learn a little about the progression from your post. When I came down with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, years ago when she and I were co-workers, I thought it might be MS (and a million other things!) and I did some research. I learned that it strikes people who lived in the NE in cold and snow as young people more often than anyone else. It isn't impossible to get it if you live elsewhere or lived elsewhere as a child (my friend lives in very hot Texas) but since I'd lived in Maryland as a child, that scared me a bit. I see you lived or still live in Boston. I am so happy you are in remission! I pray it will stay that way, and that the cognitive problems do not get worse. I will pray for your family too...my Dad had Alzheimers, and I know how hard it is to be a family member of someone who is having cognitive issues. As my hubby and I get older, we see it in ourselves as well, though not to the degree. Ours is just age and stress-related. I hope your dog Ellie gets well. She has a sweet face! I'm glad I stopped in this morning. I will come by again. All my best--

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  39. Beautiful image and haiku. Your post touches my soul. Sending you blessings.

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  40. Divine photography the lovely pussy willows ~ Sending you lots of healing energy ~ ^_^

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  41. I love your shots of the pussy willow. I'm glad you haven't had any changes for a year, that's good news! I hope you can continue to stay strong through your difficulties. I saw on your sidebar about Ellie - I hope she is doing ok!

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  42. I loved your pussy willow poem and such lovely pics. Thanks for visiting my blog. Sending you hugs and blessings.

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  43. Laura....I was immediately captured by your writing of the pussy willow and couldn't stop reading. I need to slow down and enjoy life. I think too many of us are in the fast lane. I will definitely follow you....wishing you all the best.

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  44. Amazing..wrote superbly about pussy willow.Smiles.GOD<3U

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  45. I have a pussy willow that I purchased last year and this is its first spring... Enjoyed your photos and verse :)

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  46. Thanks again for sharing your MS story and I'm glad you are doing well. It's personal for me, as I think I told you my daughter (42) was diagnosed with probable MS two years ago, the latest MRI showing basically the same as yours, meaning no new symptoms and the spaces (lesions) are still there with little change. I'm sure there are many differences, but I keep vigilant about any info I might glean from others who have it, am glad she is working, active and busy. She has altered her diet but is not taking any medicine yet..your creativity is such a positive distraction and all that you do..photography, painting, writing, and blogging is so well received. My wishes for continued wellness..and hopes your Ellie will be well too. Happy spring...wow..the pussy willows are gorgeous!

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  47. Your writing truly a reflection of your spirit Laura. We take for granted this universe we carry on our shoulders - our life so fragile and so temporary. I am glad you are in remission, your words are a blessing..: bkm

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  48. Heard about this unique pussy willow for the first time.... Great writing...

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  49. Really lovely image and words. This is the first I've read about your MS. I'm glad you got good news from your MRI, and I hope you can have continued good health. Wishing you peace.

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  50. Wow, just stunning! You have such a photographic gift. And I love the haiku too!

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  51. Glad to hear that the scan was good news. Brains are wonderful and strange things.

    Like the image of the pussy willow.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

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  52. Gorgeous captures of a pussy willow, first signs of life. I don't know what I love most, your beautiful words or your images, so I decide I love them both. You're a talented writer.

    Thank you for visiting and leaving such a nice comment.
    Nice to meet you!

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  53. Querida amiga Laura !!!!

    Muito me honrou a sua visita ao meu Blog.
    Obrigado pelo carinho para comigo e meus
    Trabalhos. Seu Blog é também muito bacana.
    Gostei de tudo que vi. Está de parabéns. Já
    Sou seu seguidor. Um lindo dia e maravilhosa
    Semana para você!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Beijos de luz!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    POETA CIGANO – 04/04/2013

    http://carlosrimolo.blogspot.com
    “Poesias do Poeta Cigano”

    Obs: Me sentirei lisonjeado se ver o selinho
    Identificador do meu Blog. nesse seu belíssimo
    Espaço.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  54. Great pictures and writing. It's the little things in life, no?

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  55. The softness of the pussy willow. I will learn to treat myself with that softness. The insights that surround your black holes are so bright and life giving. Continue to walk slowly when you can and know that even when you are racing by in your car, those pussy willows are still there. So glad your MS is in its own black hole. xoxo teri

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  56. What a beautifully written post - it really made me think about how much we can all give by just listening.
    Glad you're in remission.

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  57. Love the nature haiku and what the pussy willow has to teach ~ one of nature's gems ~ Happy Haiku My Heart ^_^

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  58. in that moment of sharing...you were the unexpected unfurling of compassion for a gentleman in need of connection. you were the pussy willow soft and willing; open to sharing light and love.
    sometimes in my darkest moments of pain and loss i find my way by a shimmering of light knowing that the challenges my body presents me with each moment of every day have also long ago opened the door to the path less traveled. to letting go and letting in. to shifting from all the diversions of a life where one mistakenly believes they have all the time in the world to get around to caring more. i love living every moment for the gift it is, walking the path of the open heart and including everyone along the way.
    thank you for taking my firmly into your generous and loving heart. with every visit i find a kindred spirit in you.

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  59. Thank you for sharing this part of your Seeker's journey. The heart and compassion shine through with brilliance.

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  60. If only you could bottle positivity...
    you are such a giving soul,
    with so much to teach♥♥

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  61. Thank you for sharing your journey! It is inspiring to see that, in spite of limitations, you are opening up your vision along that 'pussy willow' road that everyone else rushes by and sharing your words, poems and photos. The first photo took my breath away!

    Green Flame

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  62. This is a delightful post, Laura.
    I recently learned that the fruit of the Spirit which the apostle Paul wrote about in Galatians, the fruit of joy, is "quiet delight." I love that, and I am quietly delighted to read your thoughts about MS and a God meeting with an old man. I am thankful that you have had a year of remission, and that your brain is still working, even with Swiss cheese holes.

    Blessings!

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  63. Pussy willows (and other living things) have much to teach us, but only if we have ears to hear...

    Meadow Flowers

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  64. Your strong and steady spirit shines through your words and photos! Lovely.

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  65. Beautiful captures, a promising spring and signs of prosperity and happiness!! Lots of good luck and good cheer to you!!

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  66. I love your shots of the pussy willow. You take beautiful pictures. :)

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  67. Just dropped by to respond to your comment on my hummingbird pix (Weekly Top Shot?) and scrolled down to these comments. I was diagnosed with MS last November. I'm still adjusting to this new landscape that you so aptly describe here. I appreciate your thoughtful comments and insights. What I notice, less elegantly stated, are how many people I encounter in the world these days who seem diminished by one thing or another, limping, lopsided, slowed, pained. My landscape is new but I find it populated by more kindred spirits than I'd expected. - Stay well!

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  68. I think you explained very well... My issues have been in my spinal cord and not brain... So far... I think people seek out a caring heart...thank you for all the support..it is a journey... Sent from Michelle's ipad

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  69. What gorgeous shots! Love them all! Thanks for joining Wednesday Whites, Laura!

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  70. Friend/teacher - It lifts my heart to know that the remission has been a year now; I pray that you remain in remission and even that you improve a bit each day. May it be so. I so appreciate the way that you shine a light on so much of life that many of us struggle with, whether it's health, slowing down, forgetfulness, not noticing, not appreciating. As for teenagers' impatience: that's just teens - haha! Thank you for always lifting my heart and helping me to remember to seek my thankful heart, to allow grace to flow and to slow down and notice. Much love.

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