My Favorite Pair of Shoes

Do you have a favorite pair of shoes? I do. Mine are a pair of black leather, slip on style Clarks brand shoes. I chose them for comfort and ease of putting them on as well as taking them off. They are a basic black, so they go with nearly everything. These shoes go most anywhere with style. In fact, since this pair meets so many of my criteria for a great pair of shoes, this is my second identical pair!

These shoes literally take me everywhere. They’ve taken me to work in my elementary school, maneuvering between the art room tables as well as outdoors for recess duty. Being versatile, this footwear has accompanied me at football games and track meets even though they do not come with cleats.

Favorite Shoes Journey

A couple of other entertaining places to which they’ve carried me are music concerts and dance recitals. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately), my shoes to not have taps attached to the soles. It is really a shame as I’m certain everyone would love to hear me tap my toes to the music.

Sometimes my favorite shoes escort me to the restroom. I don’t really understand why they feel the need to do so. After all, I am old enough to go to the restroom all by myself.

To prove that I am old enough, my footwear also walked me out the door when I decided to retire. They also strolled back into the school when I chose to substitute teach. Most of the time, I was in the shoes when they came back to school.

Saga of My Shoes

Perhaps with spring approaching, I may get the urge to garden. I bet my shoes will want to tag along. However, I think it may be inadvisable for my shoes to help with the gardening. It may just feel too good to place my bare feet upon the ground, dig my toes into the soil and soak up some sun! Plus, perhaps it is time to allow my favorite pair of shoes to enjoy a bit of the retirement life as well by not working so hard.

P.S. In case I go barefoot gardening, someone may think I lost my shoes. In that case, please read SEARCHING FOR THE LOST. If you’d like to see what kind of personality you have by your favorite shoe style, check this out:


A Writing Prompt

When I first read the writing prompt, “How does death change your perspective?”, I was intrigued. After all, my blog does actually deal with this typically heavy topic of perspectives on death. If death was like a job, could it be a retiring, a promotion or a demotion, but hopefully not a firing?

I once read that making statements tends to erect walls while asking questions builds bridges. Since teaching has been my profession, don’t you think I should be asking more questions?

Questions on Death Viewpoints

Let’s continue with further questioning. I have wondered if death could be represented by various forms of punctuation. Could death be simply a period for “the end”? What about a question mark for an “unknown”? Maybe death is like a comma in a sentence, indicating two independent lives separated by that something titled “death”. Could death even be a thing, if we may be alive on either end of that point? Perhaps death could be shown with a dash, showing a sudden break or change.

Secondly, as this blog is open for anyone around the world to read, I make an effort to be cognizant of many belief systems. If a religion professes a habit of love and service toward humankind and this marvelous marble called Earth, does that mean an eternity of bliss awaits on the other side of the veil?

Near Death Experiences and Reincarnation

Additionally, how does one explain NDEs (Near Death Experiences) that include the spirit hovering over an operating table and seeing one’s body shocked back to life or flying outside the hospital room and observing a shoe on a ledge, or hearing doctors’ animated words following one’s coding?

What about the story of the British woman, Dorothy Eady? She took a downstairs tumble at age 3, and was initially pronounced dead. Shortly thereafter, she awoke and believed she was a priestess named Omm Sety from Ancient Egypt. How could she have had such eerily accurate knowledge of hieroglyphics and long buried temples if she was not reincarnated?

A Mother’s Perspective on Death

Having lost our son, I am fascinated by what I perceive as visits from our son. Could it be if the circumstances seem timely and unusual that it is truly the spirit of our son visiting us? You read and decide. Here are a couple of signs from nature: My Mother’s Day Guest and OUR VISITOR. This one is from my most favorite dream of my entire life: MIRACLES AND DUETS. What about our memories in providing a link to our loved ones in Stars?

Finally, I’d like to close with a quote from one of my favorite poets, Rumi. May you be comforted by his words.

from The Day I Die:

“Your mouth closes here and immediately opens with a shout of joy there.”

In Memory of a Dog

Remembering our dog always takes me back to certain experiences with him. Sometimes in a person’s life, a special animal will touch your heart. On occasion, there is a memorable trip to the veterinarian. This, in fact, was our most adventurous appointment! Reminiscing this day is one way I can cope with the grief and honor his life. This story is in memory of a very wonderful dog!

Our poor old beast of a dog was just a few days shy of eleven years. He answered to TyOhni which is Native American for wolf. A lab and border collie mix, he was pure black with the exception of white toes as well as a white star on his chest. His coloring, of course, made him the most adorable of his littermates. He was, when approaching eleven years, showing his age with a frosting of white fur forming on his muzzle. Unfortunately he was not feeling well, so my husband and I had to take him to the vet. This would involve getting a sample.

Ready for my Memory of a Dog Trip?

The last few years of his life, it had become a necessity for both of us to attend his vet visits. I think it is because he got rather nervous having the vet look at him while he was naked. (FYI, the vet wasn’t naked, but TyOhni was.) Also, he could get a bit nippy while he was there, so he required a muzzle once he arrived. (In case you’re wondering, I mean our dog, not my husband.) One of the requirements for this particular trip was to produce a urine sample. (This was TyOhni’s responsibility, not mine.)

Once we got home that afternoon, we were planning to find a suitable container for the sample. Before we got out of the car, our dog tauntingly flooded the drive with what appeared to be gallon of well, you-know-what. Many times when a male anyone would urinate outside, TyOhni, despite being a dog, would “copycat” by claiming back the scent of his territory. Considering our timing this trick, however, did not work.

We got up the next day and put on the harness and leash (not on us, but the dog.) As our dog was acting anxious, I had the presence of mind to dash into the house for my Peace and Calming essential oil. I’d never tried this oil on him before. I gave him a drop or two around his neck. It worked wonders as this was the only time of not panting and standing in the vehicle on the way to the vet. (I mean the dog, not us.)

Reminiscing Our Dog at the Vet

Once we disembarked in the parking area of the vet’s office, TyOhni was skittishly sniffing around checking out great smelling tires. One of us (not me) had the leash. This meant I was the lucky bearer of the empty thirty-two ounce cottage cheese container. Hubby pulled him away from the tires. (I mean the dog, not the vet.) The other side of the graveled area near the fence seemed attractive. All at once our dog let loose (not barking, but urinating). I hastily maneuvered the receptacle to the appropriate vicinity and was rewarded by the warm, gushing, pale, yellow liquid. That is probably the only time I’ve gleefully giggled about the feat of filling (not full) a container with urine. I was so proud of myself, I didn’t get a drop on me.

Perhaps the vet was too busy to be overly impressed over our accomplishment. He did acquire the necessary sample for testing our dog. The next time I get involved with any samples, my only hope is that it involves chocolates or cheese or art supplies or writing materials or…

Our vet reported that more than likely TyOhni was just feeling the effects of his age. This story was written in memory of our dear old dog, TyOhni, with whom we had many amazing adventures and good times. Here is second story of another of our wonderful dogs: The Goodbye Dog. This is a good resource for pet grief: May you find comfort in remembering your pets as well.

How to Welcome a New Year

It is important to know how to welcome a new year. A never experienced calendar year is always exciting! It represents a fresh start on life. Evaluating what the past year has been can be an invitation for improvement in the next year. This passage of time gives us the opportunity to release any stress from the past year. A new born trip around the sun allows us a reset to make this our best year yet!

In this past year, it seems many of us have experienced challenges of some sort or another. It appears that so many systems appear to be breaking down, from ways of life, social structures, durable goods and weather patterns, even to the make up of the very planet we live upon.

New Year – New Perspective

Back in my college years, I thrived on art classes. These classes taught me to be creative, to make new things, to imagine. Philosophy courses opened my mind to possibilities. I learned to contemplate, to analyze, to ask why. Because of these leanings, I have an imagining and questioning mind that always wants to ask how and why.

I’ve always thought that literally everything has a purpose. Why do we think we have so called bad experiences as well as the good ones? Are all these happenings guideposts to influence our actions? Sometimes it may be tempting to curl up into a ball and exclaim, “Oh, woe is me!” Perhaps we may want to tell the whole world, “Oh my, guess what just happened to me!” While these reactions might semi-soothe for a time, they are not constructive, long term solutions. These behaviors do not seem to serve us well. Maybe we would do better to examine why and contemplate creative and positive solutions.

On my art studio bulletin board is this quote:

Everything you can imagine is real. Pablo Picasso

What if, all together, we imagined that all situations given to us have a grand purpose? What if all situations were labeled not as good or bad, but as learning opportunities?

Along with the new year approaching, this is a potent time for other reasons. I formerly thought that when the winter solstice occurred that this was also the point when the sun began rising earlier each day. The sun rise actually happens later following solstice until early January. Here is a great site explaining the process, albeit from the viewpoint of the southern hemisphere: However, the total time of sunlight does increase the next day after winter solstice. I like to equate this time of experiencing and anticipating the lengthening of light to an uplifting time of incubation, of planning, of imagining what the new year could be.

Now I come to another quote upon my studio board.

Time stays long enough for anyone who will use it. Leonardo da Vinci

Let us use our time wisely. I welcome you to join me to creatively contemplate these times during the approaching increase of light. Just imagine the positive possibilities our new year possesses!

My blog post, HOP into the New Year!, may be just the icing on the cake that you need to successfully forge ahead into your new year. May you have the happiest of new years ever!

P.S. Just as I finished this draft, I was gazing out our kitchen window. A bald eagle flew straight over our home! This was a beautiful and timely reminder for me to welcome the new year with a 21 day gratitude journal. Back when our son was in hospice, my husband spied an eagle flying over our roof. Due to a writing I came across, I was inspired to do a 21 day gratitude journal during that time. Looking for gratitude when life was challenging was a life changing experience. A gratitude journal provides a perfect reset point for me to encourage looking for the good in things for the upcoming year! See Gratitude for Hard Times.

A Relaxed Holiday

Have you ever experienced a relaxed holiday? Generally the Christmas season tends to be anything but that. A certain Christmas a number of years ago stands out in my memory. Typically, that holiday involved not only celebrating at home with our littles, but also making a bee line to two sets of grandparents all in one day. Not only was our day spent, but each and every one of us was spent as well. This particular year we were snowed in by a blizzard. There was no way we could have travelled anywhere.

Our initial disappointment soon turned to a relaxed joy. Rather than rushing and worrying about cramped time schedules, there was something about the endless privilege of feeling in the now moment. It was a harkening back to simpler times. With passing years, our children fondly remembered that as one of their favorite Christmas days.

Plan Changes

Many centuries ago, a young man and woman were enrolling themselves in the census. They, too, endured plan changes. They had to lodge in a manger for there was no room for them at the inn. Their journey was also delayed by Mary giving birth to Jesus.

Sometimes life makes other plans for us. The year 2020 was a prime example. Who could have predicted all the sifts occurring in our collective plans for that year?

A change in our expectations of events makes me think of the old song lyrics penned by the Rolling Stones, ” You can’t always get what you want, but you just might find, you get what you need!”

A verse in the Bible comes to mind, “Be still and know that I am God.” This is an apt message not only for a holiday time, but also for any time. There are instances when we simply must be forced to slow down to see more clearly, to feel more deeply and to breathe more freely. Many times, this is exactly what we need!

For a relaxed holiday, is it time to jump off our merry-go-round identities of being human-doings?

Life is so much more than running a race to see how much we can accomplish, how many miles we can travel or how may dollars we can spend. Sometimes life is easily and simply seeing, feeling, breathing, and sharing. This holiday season may be a wintering of ourselves, much as the trees withdraw their external leafing energies as they build the internal. So, sit back and relax, inhale and be still. Enjoy your true namesake of being a human-being! Ponder the treasure of your memory in recalling the shared blessings of Christmases past. May the recollections gently caress your heart and soul. Through the gift of being still, may you find what you truly need this holiday season and always!

Here is another feel good holiday story about an unusually beautiful sign from our dearly departed son: OUR VISITOR. While your plans for this holiday are already set, here are some considerations for future celebrations:

Blizzard Heroes

Well, our weather forecasters are predicting a good old fashioned blizzard for our area. Whenever I experience a blast of this winter weather, I think of the blizzard heroes. This may include folks that clear the roads and keep the electricity flowing. Any essential health care, transportation, emergency service workers and others are thought of as well. However, I must say that my dad would be at the top of my blizzard hero list!

When I was a mere second grader, just a “few” decades ago, our area experienced a whopper of a storm. The snow hit right before Christmas break. It developed so quickly that some of the school buses could not properly negotiate the roads. Some students’ parents were not able to get their child or children from school. The principal of the elementary went above and beyond to host an impromptu slumber party at school for perhaps twenty or more students. He saw that they were fed from the lunch room and somehow found places for them to lay their weary heads for the night.

My Dad – The Blizzard Hero!

Fortunately, Dad, my blizzard lion heart, was able to pick me up. However, by the time we got on our gravel roads, our car high centered on a snow drift. We were a half mile from home in near white out conditions. Dad made sure we were properly bundled before we got out of our old black Plymouth.

My little child legs couldn’t quite negotiate the growing banks of snow, so he did what any good daddy would do. He picked me up and carried me. If you’ve ever tried to navigate into a whaling, blizzarding snow, you know it’s not easy. Just carrying one’s own weight while battling the wind and snow is effort enough, let alone the extra weight of a child in arms.

He headed down the white, blustery road with the wind pummeling his face. Unbelievably, he carried me a quarter mile to the nearest neighbor. Fortunately, the good neighbors were home and welcomed us into their toasty abode from the brutally frigid outdoors. I was really hoping that Dad would stay, but once he warmed a bit, he walked, sans child, another quarter mile to our place. He, after all, had cattle and hogs, a dog and cats to feed and water. Mom, as well as my little brother and sister, awaited him in our warm, toasty home.

The Neighbor Blizzard Heroes

Meanwhile at the neighbors, I was with the mom and dad and their high school aged daughter. Additionally, there was another stranded neighbor girl a year older than me. All of them were champions, too! They each did their best to make me feel at home. The mom made all sorts of wonderful homecooked food, as all the women did back then.

I recall our sleeping quarters for the three of us girls was a large bed. It was in an unheated bedroom with a pile of quilts at least as thick as my little second grade body. I’m certain the weight of the quilts would have been more than some of the weighted quilts that people occasionally buy nowadays!

Another memory was that I feared I would not be home by Christmas. That particular winter was the first that I knew there was no Santa, but nonetheless, I didn’t want to miss celebrating with my family. I also wanted to be home to play with my two younger siblings!

Some people must be prepared for just anything. Here is what happened. The two of us who were guests, somehow magically, had a little gift for us under our neighbors’ tree! We each received a pretty necklace and bracelet set! Our new jewelry was the perfect size for each of us. Some people simply go above and beyond in being neighborly! These fine folks were certainly blizzard champions as well!

Homeward Bound Hero

I honestly do not recall if I spent more than one night at the neighbors or not. My Man of the Hour, Dad, eventually got out his little orange Allis Chalmers tractor and dug a path to rescue me. We rode on the open air tractor and got home – just in time to celebrate our Christmas with the five of us! Despite my disappointment of the story of Santa, I was to find that it is the generous hearts of all those around us that fuel the spirit of Christmas. That and Dad – he was truly my blizzard hero!

If you are in a wintery location, you may enjoy my Winter Cozy post as well as the Call of the Winter. Here is a resource with winter safety tips: Stay warm!

The Goodbye Dog

We once had a certain dog. He was officially dubbed with the name, Teddy Baron. Later, he earned the nickname, Bear Dog. Eventually, he became the Goodbye Dog.

He was such a cute, mostly black dog with long fur. His tail was constantly wagging, especially when our kids would be playing with him out in the yard.

My husband’s favorite activity after I’d finished mowing the lawn was to currycomb Bear Dog. Since our dog’s hair was so long, the pile of loose hairs resembled another whole dog in the midst of our freshly manicured lawn!

Not only could our dog be a play companion and a pampered pet, but he could also be a beast. One time, I witnessed him tackling and killing a raccoon. Needless to say, that was a harrowing sight to behold.

The Goodbye Moniker

I bet you wonder how in the world a dog could earn the moniker, the Goodbye Dog. This is how it happened. One fine Mother’s Day, my husband and I had my parents over for Sunday dinner. When they left, we were sitting on our front steps with Bear Dog. The two of us were waving goodbye. Since sometimes our pets think they’re human, too, he raised a front paw and joined us in waving goodbye!

After that point, he would wave on command if we did the motion or if we told him, “Wavy Gravy”!

Bear Dog lived a good happy life. However, toward the end of his life, he went missing. We eventually discovered his body. However, that wasn’t the end of his story.

Our daughter lived halfway across the country at that time. She felt bad that she couldn’t be with him for one last farewell.

One night, shortly after our dog’s passing, our daughter was gifted a beautiful dream with Bear Dog. She was so thrilled he came to her. Each of them got to love on one another, one final time. Before her dream ended, a large, fluffy white dog came to escort our dog to the afterlife.

The White Dog

For a time, all of us puzzled who the white dog was. We found out a short time later. One of my aunts had passed, so we were gifted some old family photos. There was a snapshot that took my breath away. It was an image of my grandparents, my aunt and my dad. Dad was petting a large, long-haired white dog! This picture was taken when my dad was roughly upper high school age. When I spoke to Dad about his canine, he told me his name was Hoppy, short for Hop-Along-Cassidy!

Fascinatingly, we live on the same property now. I could only imagine Hoppy in spirit form, frolicking in the yard when our Bear Dog was playing during his earthly life.

How could it be that two dogs roughly six decades distant could have their stories intersect? What are the chances that a dog named Hoppy could jump into the life of a dog who could wave goodbye when he was bidding farewell?

Isn’t this greet and escort into the afterlife fascinating? I’m certain our Goodbye Dog, Teddy Baron, AKA Bear Dog, was grateful and comforted. Our family, our friends and now you may feel reassurance from this story. May you find solace that someone will be there for you, for our loved ones, whether two or four legged, when the time comes.

Here is a beautiful story of another sign from the other side: My Mother’s Day Guest. It is important as well as healing to tell your stories during the grieving process. Here is a resource:

Finding Gratitude

Finding gratitude can be a life changer in regards to securing inner peace. Can you find gratitude? Let’s start by imagining for a moment. What if two potentially disastrous things happened to you in one week? What if that particular week happened to be Thanksgiving? Do you think you could find it within yourself to be thankful?

Many times, thinking about events with an “if this, then that” mindset may end with the same answer, like an algebraic or a logical given.

A New Way to Gratitude

First of all, ponder looking at these events in a new way. Is there anything good at all which occurred? Could there be even a part of these occurrences which may deviate into a positive direction?

Fortunately, my brain works differently. Sometimes the optimist in me strives to see the world in a different light. Perhaps it is the artist within who wants to color the world more attractively.

Upon self examination with one of the events I quickly saw that, at the root, it contained the seeds of something I had been desiring. It involved breaking one habit while simultaneously nurturing a more pleasant one.

In thinking of the other of the happenings, I could see it as perhaps serendipitous if I looked past the initial veneer. It was far too easy to think and question, “What if this had not happened?” Thinking of these occurrences in a new way could be life changing.

Back and Forth Bargaining

I felt the pull of this back and forth bargaining. Rather than back and forth, perhaps my journey toward gratitude could be down to up. However, I must admit, both scenarios stirred much fear, anger and angst. It would have been quite easy in a theatrical mode of expression to place my hand upon my forehead, exclaiming, “Woe is me!”

With my paint the world pretty attitude of creative thinking, I ticked off a number of gratitudes for both of these events. How much happier and healthier I felt by being thankful rather than feeling resentful.

Truly any situation we could imagine may fall into one’s life. Our perspective is the determining factor in how we may resume resilience.

Finally, have you tried to find gratitude in the midst of what may appear to be turmoil? Would it be possible to invite a new perspective into your life? Just as a mirror image is reversed, sometimes our view point could also do well with a reversal. If you only look in the mirror, perhaps your reflection may thank you!

Here is a related post: Gratitude for Hard Times. This article,, is a wonderfully extensive resource on gratitude.

Opposites in the Arts

We can learn much from opposites in the arts. In fact, the very contrast of opposites can help us in coping with grief.

Just think of a painting. If all of it was equally dark, there may not be enough contrast to be informative or interesting. The same could be true if it was equally light. If a painting was entirely in warm colors or entirely in cool colors, there may not be enough contrast to have some pop. It is the concept of opposites which allows us to identify something. Are you in a dark space or light? Does your mood feel warm or cool? On the feeling spectrum, do you feel closer to grief or peace?

  • All beauty is a making one of opposites, and the making one of opposites is what we are going after in ourselves. In reality opposites are one – art shows this. Eli Siegel
  • The principle to remember is that all dualities and opposites are not disjoined but polar. They do not confront each other from afar; they originate in a common center. Michael Michalko
  • A dark object seen against a bright background will appear smaller than it is. A light object will look larger when it is seen against a background darker than itself. Leonardo da Vinci
  • Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this, too, was a gift. Mary Oliver
  • In order to understand the dance you must be still. And in order to truly understand stillness you must dance. Rumi
  • It belongs to the imperfection of everything human that man can only attain his desire by passing through its opposite. Soren Kierkegaard
  • Music is the harmonization of opposites; the conciliation of warring elements. Pythagoras
  • God turns you from one feeling to another and teaches by means of opposites, so that you will have two wings to fly, not one. Rumi
  • Breathing involves a continual oscillation between exhaling and inhaling, offering ourselves to the world at one moment and drawing the world into ourselves at the next. David Abram

As you can see, opposites in the arts have much to teach us in regards to how we may cope with grief. In order to find peace, we must pass through the grief. May all of us make our opposites one by searching for beauty, painting our feelings, dancing our delights, singing our songs, breathing our breaths, being still in the darkness, and shining our lights.

You may be interested in EMPOWERED LIVING by learning what effects practicing the visual arts have had on my students. This link offers suggestions for ways to use the arts to cope with grief:

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