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Last week, on the drive home, I caught a small reminder through my car window. I reached for my phone and snapped the evening sky. My intent and focus drifted to the white whispers and as an afterthought, I spotted the yellow sign that fit with the aura of the moment – to look up and pay attention.

In the last few months, circumstances pushed me to place of melancholy. I confronted the idea of how situations can quickly change. This idea of the pendulum between happiness and sadness is a theme that appears over and over again in my thoughts and writing. In the middle of the swing, I freeze, not knowing what to accept. But this is it exactly. Living means embracing the certainty and uncertainty of life’s maneuvers and acknowledging that one cannot live without one or the other. Still, I struggle to embrace this rough terrain, though I know it always lurks in my every day. I fear that phone call or piece of news that might alter the tide of routine and normalcy.

When I face these periods, I tend to find refuge in nature. On this evening, the sky defined the message that I needed. A small reminder to look up and revel at the vastness and beauty of what it is to be alive and the privilege of driving in a car with my daughter for an ordinary excursion at the end of the day.

During this same week, I found other reminders that validated my belief to live as if paying attention is a goal I should not compromise. On my run home, I stopped and stared at a cactus and its counterpart. Looking at the immovable petals, my eyes gravitated toward the side and the mini-cactus forming right next to its companion. Allowing this to sink in, I reflected on my role as a mother for my daughter and the immense joy and lessons motherhood teaches me. Some days she is connected to me as much as these two cacti. There are periods when motherhood presents a variety of challenges and for each mother it varies, but one overriding thought pulsed through me, as I gazed at the symbol present in my yard – it is an immense privilege and honor to mother a child, in my case a daughter, whose outstretched arms and love, I hope, is my lasting legacy.

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The other reminder came in the form of a purple-tinged cactus near our home. When I saw it, I did a double-take, standing at awe at the lovely violet color mixing with the more muted green. In between the mixture of the two colors, I saw hints of grey. Although it is a cliche, much of our world is navigated by the middle. Not one way or another and as I grow older, I’ve learned more and more that this murky territory is where most of the real living exists. There is a certain mystery to this gray area that might present challenges, but also unexpected good surprises. Not all complicated territory ends with heartbreak – there is immense beauty in these places too. In my twenties, so much resided in black and white, but now, I realize that philosophy helped create a defense mechanism to combat the uncertainty of landing in a more grayer place.

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The final reminder came from this triple-colored sunset in the sky. Sunsets and sunrises double as my best friends. My daughter knows that I am intrigued with capturing the beauty of the sun and the accompanying sky, particularly in the morning and evening. Last month, I snapped the yellows, pinks, purple of the sky and it pushed me to be thankful for time. In the sky, I see the promise of holding and letting go of time, but definitively I view the opportunity of choice.

Keeping my gaze firmly on the rainbow loom sky, I paused and whispered an emotional thank you to all of these small reminders.

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