Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Tag: Health and Well-being

Ikebana and Bonsai at Longwood | Photos


Last Saturday D and I visited Longwood Gardens for a late summer/early fall walk. The flower beds had been put to bed for winter, and the meadow was a seedy expanse of dying yet still graceful grasses. We took a meadow walk, stopped by the children’s railroad display, ate lunch in the café, and then headed over to the conservatory to see the annual Chrysanthemum Festival.

This year the Conservatory went all out with an Ikebana display, a Bonsai display, and Longwood style Japanese Lanterns. Plus thousands of chrysanthemums.

Below are my favorites from the Ikebana display. First, a few things about Ikebana, the art of Japanese flower arranging.

  • Ikebana goes back to Japanese Shinto worship of nature, and the Chinese Buddhist tradition of placing flowers on the altar to Buddha.
  • Today it’s more about flower arranging, following ancient rules and forms. Usually the arrangements are in the form of an asymmetrical triangle.

The exhibit hall is normally set up for musical concerts. This time it’s an Ikebana display of various kinds of Ikebana arrangements. All arrangements are by qualified members of the Ikebana Philadelphia Chapter, which includes Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland. Ikebana International has over 10,000 members in more than 50 countries.

Here’s a look just outside the exhibit hall, back toward the entrance to the Conservatory. You can see Chrysanthemum ‘mushrooms’ popping up, lots of water flowing, and behind all the foliage, lots of visitors!


Turning around from this view, we walked into a large area lined with Bonsai arrangements. Again, this wasn’t a competition, but a display by members of the local Brandywine Bonsai Society. Here are some favorites. I was especially intrigued by the combination displays of ‘large’ and miniature arrangements. The miniatures are shown enlarged; you can also see them beside their exhibit ‘partners.’


Well, friends, I’ve barely touched the Chrysanthemum Festival, and haven’t even begun to show you Japanese Lanterns Longwood style! Stay tuned, but don’t hold your breath. It’s bad for your blood pressure.

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 4 November 2017
All photos taken by DAFraser, 28 October 2017

Old before her grownup time


Old before her grownup time
A little girl in adult mode
Within her childhood body
Performs an adult’s duties

Reserves once bright diminished now
She wills her youthful girlhood back
To fuel her lagging body

Perhaps she’ll wake up one bright day
And find those long-lost years
Held in reserve for later use –
Life savings locked within a vault
Accumulating dividends

I woke up a few days ago with a thought flitting around in my head: What if all my unspent childhood energy—lost to adult responsibilities before my time—is sitting somewhere waiting for me to reclaim it? You know–to fill in energy gaps that crop up when least expected or welcome.

After nearly 74 years, surely I’m entitled to reap something from all that premature investment in adulthood. Not just in my spirit, but (especially) in my body.

Now wouldn’t that be something to shout about? I might even put one of those giant trampolines in my backyard to burn off the energy!

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 25 October 2017
Photo found at livingonthecheap.com

Daily Prompt: Identity

An epidemic of unforgiveness?

A few months ago I posted a series on forgiving my Dad, The Shape of Forgiveness. Since then, this question has been on my mind: Are we, here in the USA, caught in an epidemic of unforgiveness for which we have no remedy?

In the last post of the series I wrote this:

God forgives each of us daily. This is an act of stunning creation, not just for us individually, but for the families and communities in which we live. I want to be part of this ongoing spirit of forgiveness because I want to be part of God’s creative act, not part of the destructive problem.

Yet sometimes I hear or think words that seem to shut the door on a creative tomorrow: I’ll never forgive him – her – them!

Are we locked into a pattern that undercuts creative endeavors to find common ground, much less forgiveness?

I’m not looking for acres and acres of common ground. Right now I’d settle for a tiny patch anywhere in which we could safely listen and speak about our anguish. Perhaps we would begin finding ways to heal, ways to know each other and ourselves differently and better.

More recently, I’ve begun thinking about my experience in 12-step programs. It wasn’t indoctrination. It was a carefully sequenced program that helped me discover how to deal with myself first. My life had become unmanageable.

Twelve-step programs taught me to let things be so I could discover a better way. I wasn’t in charge. My higher power was. I didn’t have to slam doors or flounce out of the room in self-righteous indignation. Or solve everyone else’s problems. Or prop up the self-defeating behavior of others. Or defend my behavior and condemn others.

Instead, I learned to find safe people, talk with them about things that troubled me, and explore ways to change self-defeating habits. Slowly, I began to join the human race. I stopped standing on the sidelines trapped in patterns of harsh judgment of others and of myself.

How about a Citizens Anonymous program for recovering citizens and friends of citizens? A program that would help us put down our addictive bottles of news headlines, gossip, outrage, harsh judgment, denial, diversions, taunting, and other ways we sooth ourselves when we’re feeling out of control. Maybe together we could find small patches of common ground and nurture something new.

Just a thought. Or maybe this is already happening somewhere? If so, I’d love to hear about it.

Thanks for listening.
Elouise ♥ 

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 14 August 2017
Image found at callofthevedas.com

Sabbath Rest Memories | Photos

One year ago D and I, with our daughter and son-in-law were enjoying a huge once-in-a-lifetime cruise down the Rhine, Main and Danube Rivers. Here are random favorites that depict the heart, if not the full reality of Sabbath rest. The ducks at the top are showing how it’s done. We spotted them at Kinderdijk. The photos below were taken on the way to Cologne and in one of the parks there.

For starters, here’s a photo of me sound asleep, doing Nothing.
Just looking at this makes me go all limp.
And what about those snazzy socks!

Here are some rather limp cattle we passed along the way.
They didn’t even look up or ask what we were doing!
Just kept napping, chewing their cud, and chilling out.

Not to be outdone by cattle,
this water fowl family is getting into the spirit of things, too.
Doing mostly nothing but enjoying an outing together.

And here’s a young couple also doing nothing
but resting and enjoying this beautiful view of the river.
I wonder who they are?

Here they are again!
We saw them quite often during the cruise.
They smiled a lot. Definitely a sign of Sabbath joy.

Well look at that!
This Sabbath rest thing seems to be popular with everyone.
Especially when it means enjoying nature.

Here’s our trusty photographer, aka D,
taking a picture of himself in front of a reflective screen.
He’s enjoying relaxed time in his very relaxed outfit!
You don’t have to dress up for Sabbath rest, you know.

Nearby was this calm bunny taking great joy in a favorite snack!

There’s that good-looking couple again!
They look like they’re enjoying each other and nature and
a complete break from their normal busy, creative lives.
Just as I’m trying to do right now.

You might say nature enjoys Sabbath every day.
But sometimes it outdoes itself with beauty. Natural beauty.
This looks like Sabbath-day best to me.

And this little bee is having the feast of a lifetime.
You might say its cup is running over with joy and delight.

Back on the cruise ship, D got this evening shot of
the Cologne Cathedral, spires pointing upwards.
A silent reminder of the source of our life, our rest and our joy.

Blessings of peace and rest to each of you.
Elouise 

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 29 July 2017
Photos taken by DAFraser, Summer 2016 Viking Cruise

hanging on for dear life

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hanging on for dear life
gnarled roots exposed
soil sifts away with
each new flash flood
no rock bottom in sight
turbulence guaranteed
in more than the air
reeking with harbingers
of hard times ahead
soil ill-prepared
for these upheavals
brittle dry sinews of our
vulnerability on display
slow motion relentless
yesterday disappearing
before our eyes can adjust
in this foreboding present

Every day my eyes are pulled to headlines and news articles that sometimes offer more than they can deliver. Instead, they leave me without comfort or enlightenment. Sometimes they destroy any iota of clarity I thought I’d achieved. It isn’t laughable; it’s tragic. Not because of the news industry, but because of what passes these days as news.

So here’s the news I’m counting on these days–good for me, good for you and good for the animals and mother earth!

Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens,
Your faithfulness to the skies.
Your righteousness is like the highest mountains,
Your justice like the great deep.
You, Lord, preserve both people and animals.
How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!
People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house;
You give them drink from your river of delights.
For with you is the fountain of life;
In your light we see light.

Psalm 36: 5-9 (New International Version)

Psalm 36 was written during politically troubled times filled with those who flattered themselves “too much to detect or hate their sin.” So-called leaders were failing to “act wisely or do good” and did not reject what was wrong.

The only antidote to evil and falsehood is truth. Speaking it, yes. Even more potent, living it. Daring to live each day in the light of our Maker—the only light in which we see light, whether we live and whether we die. The unseen source and goal of our dear lives.

Praying this day will bring moments of deep calm and clarity.

Elouise 

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 28 July 2017
Photo credit: DAFraser, October 2012, Hoyt Arboretum, Portland, Oregon
Response to WordPress Daily Prompt: Shallow

a grownup’s prayer

I want to be in tune with You –
Listening to my heart sing
Surrounded by music

Maybe You could arrange for me to live in nonstop song
At home in my skin, content, grateful and unafraid
Connected with those I love or haven’t yet learned to love

Would You kindly spare a few moments
to sing me back together?
I’d rather not have another operation.

***

A few evenings ago I was listening to choral music, singing along from time to time. A bit weepy though happy. Grateful for small gifts during the day.

It dawned on me that I’m most content, most at peace when I’m surrounded by music. Especially, but not only, grand hymns old and new.

So I dreamed a bit. What would it be like to live in nonstop song? And might my Creator be willing to oblige me? Without ungodly pain?

Coming from a grownup, the ungodly pain part seemed a fair request. After all, I don’t have as much time for fancy procedures as I used to have. Besides, who wouldn’t love to be sung back together?

Hoping your day/evening is filled with music that softens your heart and sings you back together.

Elouise 

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 19 July 2017

writing life backwards…

The past
a muddled conglomeration
bits and pieces
scraps
in colors drab
dripping red
rags

Socks with holes
that hold no water
no deep thoughts
nothing worth saving
but my embodied soul
such as it was
small
scared
scarred
hypervigilant and
anguished

Dressed for church and company
Awkward, unseemly nice
Plain and forgettable

I will not forget

I write obsessively now
since the dam burst

Is this my confession?
Relieved capitulation to truth?
Sorrowful search for a little girl lost?

Yes Yes Yes and Yes –
All that and more

Written with a feather–
Backwards

***

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 7 July 2017
Image found at salon.com, previously featured in Crazy Happy Lady
Response to WordPress Daily Prompt: Quill

an untethered life

Annie J. Flint, Poet (1866-1932)

I like being in control. Or at least thinking I’m in control. Yet the older I get, the less control I have over my world, much less yours. I don’t relish feeling tethered by circumstances beyond my control.

Annie J. Flint, composer of the well-loved song below, lived a tethered life in her later years due to severe arthritis. Her ability to work or function as an independent adult was limited. She experienced what it means to ‘reach the end of our hoarded resources.’

Yet she still touches us with grace-filled lyrics such as these. Here’s one of her most-loved songs, unedited.

He giveth more grace as our burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength as our labors increase;
To added afflictions He addeth His mercy,
To multiplied trials he multiplies peace.

When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources
Our Father’s full giving is only begun.

His love has no limits, His grace has no measure,
His power no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.

Words by Annie J. Flint (1866-1932)
Found at CyberHymnal.org

Today, six months into this year, I’m tempted to despair. I struggle with discouragement about national and international issues. I don’t know what I can do, or who I’m to be in the midst of growing chaos gone crazy. The options seem tightly restrictive.

Happily, these lyrics don’t lull me into spiritual make-believe land, as though I could escape all this. Instead, they invite me to keep an open mind and heart, stay engaged, and loosen my hold on that tether I think is binding me.

After all, Flint’s lyrics are about receiving, not about giving.

I’ve lived most of my adult life as a giver. Though it’s exhausting, I confess some addiction to it. Especially now that I’m not able to feed the giving habit as regularly as I might like.

Perhaps I’ve reached the end of my giving tether, and need to cut it loose. Annie Flint would likely agree. In fact, when her options became severaly limited, she picked up her pen and began writing her life in poetry. Not primarily for us, but for herself.

How selfish? No, how wise. I can’t think of a better way to receive gifts than to unwrap, admire, and use them.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 6 July 2017
Image found at CyberHymnal.org
Response to WordPress Daily Prompt: Tether

It began innocently enough

It began innocently enough
Here a bit, there a bit
Never enough to cause
a problem mind you

After all, small snacks
helped her get through
the day and sometimes
the night

But insatiable hunger
screamed for more
as though there might not
be a tomorrow

And her more became less –
Insubstantial pap dished up
flavored just the way
she liked it

They say terminal glut
caused her early demise
That, and her uncontrollable
urge to gorge on the news
of her choice

I don’t hate news reports. I read and listen to them regularly. Yet I can’t help noticing my daily habits, and the kinds of headlines I seem unable to resist.

I could justify any or all of it. Yet what have I gained? And how does any of this add value to my health and well-being? Or to accomplishing my primary goals each day? Not productivity goals, but activities that bring me joy–writing, listening to music, reading, and walking outside.

Just wondering….

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 30 June 2017
Response to WordPress Daily Prompt: Snack

Kickback

Molasses
oozes
through
my veins

Sluggishness
creeps
from head
to toe
smothering
every desire
to move

Thoughts
of despair
meddle
with my sanity
laugh
at my dreams
mock
and taunt me

Doesn’t everyone
have a down day
now and again?

I’ve had stretch of good days. Very good days, in fact. The Meddler isn’t happy about this. She doesn’t like being ignored.

Well, it isn’t going to happen. Today I’m weary from the daily grind of creating health-inducing smoothies, making sure I have the right vegetables and fruit for smoothies, chopping them up for smoothies, and cleaning up my smoothie blender so it’s ready for the next round.

The Meddler keeps trying to remind me of cat-fur bunnies multiplying by the hour, decisions waiting to be made, and closets screaming to be changed out for hot weather.

I’ve decided to chill out for the rest of this day.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 20 June 2017
Response to WordPress Daily Prompt: Meddle

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