Crossing a Bridge

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Crossing a bridge, I decide to sit.

Breeze blowing, shadows dancing. Brittle leaves scratching the wood. A trickle of water tumbles down through rocks and into the creek. Sunlight filters through the leaves.  Locusts hum, unaware that summer is done. Bird songs welcome Fall. Reflections of branches quiver on the water’s surface. I am grateful for the stillness.

 

The Ritual of Tea (and a giveaway)

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Tea is a treasured respite from the bustle of my day. Drinking it, of course, but especially the ritual of tea. It is a meditation of sorts, opening bottles to inhale earthy and floral scents while deciding which tea suits my mood. Then choosing a cup and watching the leaves’ tannins seep like ink into the hot water.

I find the spot in the room with the prettiest light and gather my fountain pen and journal, grateful for this quiet time to capture thoughts. Steam rises like a translucent flame above the rim and I sit still, waiting patiently to take a sip.

Part of my tea love affair is because of the sense of place it brings:

  • Discovering loose tea on my first trip to Paris, where I selected a fruity black tea with blue cornflowers at a local farmers’ market. Drinking it reminds me of France.
  • Delighting in the anticipation of high tea at the Savoy Hotel when I lived in London, and savoring tea and conversation on my cozy blue sofa with dear friends.
  • Tasting sweet mint tea in Marrakesh, offered to me in an antique shop with secret passages.
  • Learning how to ceremoniously “pedal” jasmine tea in San Francisco’s Chinatown.
  • Sampling the distinct vanilla taste of Rooibos tea in an art gallery in Swaziland.
  • Hunting for tea shops in far away corners of new cities

And, sometimes, asking for “just one more cup of tea” is the perfect excuse for lingering a bit longer…


This post is part of the “kick off” for the Grace Notes blog hop, the new blog companion to Stampington & Company’s Bella Grace Magazine that celebrates everyday pleasures through inspirational photography and heartfelt stories.

In honor of this blog hop, I’m hosting a giveaway for a complimentary copy of Bella Grace Magazine Issue 7. Bella Grace Issue 7 Cover

For a chance to win, simply leave a comment on this post and share what you do to slow down and savor the moment. I will randomly select a winner and post an update on March 31st.

***Update: Congratulations to Rachel Gordon, who won the Bella Grace Magazine Issue 7 Giveaway! Yay! ***

Abundant joy,

Tracy

Happy Leap Year Day!

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Hope this unique day on 29 February brings something unexpected, maybe a little leap of joy.  Perhaps it’s a day to leap back into art, or a fun project, or into some time for yourself. “Leap and the net will appear, ” as creative Julia Cameron encourages us to do.

I haven’t blogged in a while, so I thought I’d take a moment to leap back in!

Happy Creating,

Tracy

Forging a New Path

As with any great life transition, there are too many words, thoughts, and emotions to capture. There is a lot of anticipation…and a little apprehension, too.

As we leave our home in Swaziland,

We are also going home.

Celebrating our experiences, our friends, our family.

Taking flight, soaring over lands and oceans.

We embrace a new nest

with gratitude as we forge a new path ahead.

Namaste,

Tracy

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Over the Moon (and a Give Away)

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Today, I did a full-on, two-minute Happy Dance in my driveway when my husband handed me the mail.  I have an article called Abundant Solitude and photos published in Issue 5 of Bella Grace Magazine, one of my favorite inspirational publications!

It is an amazing, validating, and surreal feeling to see my words and images published (for the first time ever) on the page. And to touch the paper (and it’s very nice, heavy-bond paper- I have a thing for nice paper).  They did such a beautiful job with the layout, and I am over the moon to be featured alongside women creatives whom I admire so much.

Thank you, Stampington and Company and #BellaGrace!  To celebrate, I am having a Give Away of one copy of Bella Grace, Issue 5.  At the end of September, I will select one recipient at random from the comments.

To leave a comment, please click on the bubble to the right of the title (at the top of this post), and you will see the “Reply” box appear at the bottom.  Tell me what YOU do to find solitude or feel centered when life rushes in and you are looking for some solace. Don’t forget to include your email with your input so that I can contact you if you win!

With enormous gratitude,

Tracy

{October note: Winner was Pat Newton of Columbus, Georgia, who received her copy of Bella Grace directly from the publisher.  Congratulations!}

Bella Grace is recognized as one of Library Journal’s Top Ten Magazines launched in 2014

 

Daily Naikan and Being Thankful

Naikan means “inside looking.” Developed by a Buddhist, it is a Japanese meditative practice of self-reflection and cultivating gratitude.

As a “type-A,” active person, it’s sometimes (okay, often) a challenge for me to carve out time to be still and quiet, which is all the more reason this practice sounds really valuable!  My son is on break next week from preschool. For his sanity and mine, I am committed to taking at least a few minutes a day to do this.

It’s so important to stop and break out of the busyness. I don’t do this enough. Life can pass you right by, getting wrapped up in activities and not fully appreciating the abundance that surrounds us.

My Mama and Aunt came to Africa this month, and it was an amazing visit, filled with wonderful experiences. I’ve just taken time to write in my journal, and read back through (and more fully appreciate) these fantastic memories:

  • a coffee barista’s advice in Kruger Park: “The world is God’s home, so we must travel to visit the rooms of his house.”
  • observing the wonderment of these ladies as they discovered African crafts, food, hand-woven baskets, wildlife, and meals made with flaming fires…
  • their market finds: magnets of Swazi women, banana-leaf art, a beaded change-purse, earrings made from beans, a soapstone carving, silver jewelry woven with giraffe tail hair,  hearing the scratching sound of hands carving wooden giraffes
  • pale blue skies blanketing toasty brown land and golden fields
  • relaxing under the lodge’s thatched roof, the sounds of hippos roaring nearby
  • grilled “braii” meals outdoors and sundowner drinks by an old, enormous Banyan tree
  • eating breakfast on safari in the bush
  • standing by the Indian Ocean
  • celebrating Ramsay’s second birthday
  • native Swazi dance and music
  • early morning mist rising from Kruger Park’s Crocodile River, emanating like steam from a hot cup of tea
  • sitting next to my Mama on Safari, surrounded by graceful giraffes
  • a vibrant, magical rainbow that appeared and lingered in the wetlands, illuminating the water like a glowing oil painting
  • watching my son on my mother’s lap, eating popcorn together

Wishing for you today the ability to leave behind the bustle, find center, and reflect on who you are and what makes you grateful.

“If you are what you are meant to be, you will set the world on fire.”
-Saint Catherine of Sienna

With gratitude,

Tracy

 

 

Your Time Here Has Expired…

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Frustrated from an afternoon of struggling with back-to-back “terrible two’s” episodes with our toddler, I enlisted the housekeeper’s help and left to get groceries. I didn’t need much at the store, actually. It was more just to get out; a motherhood break to catch my breath and re-gain composure.  (Do other people run errands when they don’t need to)?

Driving down the highway, I glanced left to see what I thought was initially a bundle of clothes, but then did a double-take to see a man face-down, dead on the side of the road. My mouth agape in shock and awe, I could hardly register what I was seeing. Relieved to see a cop behind me (we were the only cars around), I watched him drive right by, not slowing or turning on sirens, or even turning off on the next exit, as if he had seen a dead deer on the road instead.

I re-played this over and over in my mind all day. When I recounted this to a Swazi friend, he simply said,  ” You are in Africa. This is not a humane place,” which did not put my mind at ease. 

On the last morning of that man’s life, I wonder if he did anything out of the ordinary? If he knew somehow that his time would expire that day?  This quick shift of perspective certainly made me stop and realize how much I take for granted, and erased any complaints and negativity in my head.

I retreated into my thoughts for a few days, formulating question after question. If this were my last day, what would I do differently? Am I leaving anything left unsaid or undone that I would regret? Why do I fritter my time away? There is so much I want to accomplish and learn and explore in this life- what am I waiting for? Why do I pick up toys when I could be squeezing that baby more and doing fun things instead?

And, ultimately, why does it take such a rude awakening to refocus on the important things?  Time seemed to stop that day. In a pondering daze, I sought solace in being outdoors. I watched birds perched  gracefully on a thin branch, bobbing in the wind; a metaphor for the delicate balance of life.

When my internal compass gets thrown off, I try to:

Remember to Breathe. Surrender. Let Go.
Find quiet time for creativity to incubate.
Practice Gratitude.
Spend more time connecting with friends and family.
Play music and do some yoga stretches or dance.
Seek out the beauty in the small things.
Be still and listen.
Take a bubble bath.
Bake something to make the house smell good.
Sit outdoors in the sunshine.
Make tea and read something inspirational.
Start an art project.
Focus on the fun, not the fear.

What do you do  when life throws you off-kilter?

Carpe Diem, friends. Go and enjoy THIS AMAZING LIFE.
Tracy