Oh Deer! [Knowing When to Take a Break]

Deer Art

I had the perfect blog theme for the week, but ugh, after work and people and pandemic issues all day long, my energy was too low for even the things I enjoy. I whined (sometimes inwardly) all week about needing time to just cut paper and glue something. I dreamed of quiet evenings for just that, but after hardly seeing people for 17-18 months, my being around people and talking all day long was draining in all caps. My evenings were spent resting (read: sleeping) and completing very few of the daily tasks of home life.

Of course, I took “micro-breaks” when absolutely necessary: I cut pretty artwork out of a book wrapper on its way to the trash bin while speaking with a colleague. I captured trees and flowers with my phone camera while I walked to meetings or lunch. I doodled sunflowers during in-person meetings, phone calls, and work sessions. I worked on photo edits during Zoom meetings.

The micro-breaks were [are] lifesaving, but the reality is my body and soul need more. So, when my friend and colleague Lisa asked me yesterday “What are you doing to take care of yourself?,” I immediately felt the guilt of not practicing what I preach regarding self-care during these Corona times.  

I had convinced myself that “if I can just get through this week,” I’ll be able to get to a place where I can take a “time out” daily. I’ve been saying that for three or four weeks now. I haven’t taken a photo or nature walk in a good while. Even worse, I haven’t picked up my actual camera to take a shot since the end of last month! That’s almost three weeks! Let’s not talk about the unwritten poetry, prose, letters, and postcard designs dancing in my head, or the great books waiting to be read and the movement my body needs!

I mindlessly opened Instagram early this morning and Beth Moore’s words grabbed my attention. The post drove the point of Lisa’s question home for me. 

Know when to take a break, y’all. This world’s a heartbreaking, baffling, demoralizing ball of fire right now. We’re not God. We can pray and give and speak and act. But we can’t carry all of this 24/7. It’s too heavy for us. It’s not going to give us a time out. We have to take it!

This world is “a lot,” and all that negative energy mingling with all the good stuff can create a chaotic stew inside our minds and bodies. Those breaks Moore encourages help shift and purge the energy. So my silly photo edit with the deer poking its tongue at me? That’s me—knowing when to take a break and poking my tongue at all the things that will have to wait. 

Have a safe and happy weekend…

“How to Live Your Poem”

April is National Poetry Month, so I’ve decided to share a beloved poem every day this month. The daily posting will add a bit of routine and balance in a moment when I feel a bit off center and out-of-sorts, and hopefully, my touching the works of other poets will also inspire me to get some of my own work out of folders and into the world.

Since April is also National Letter Writing Month, [starting tomorrow] I plan to share some of the snail mail I’ve received–recently and [maybe] not-so-recently.

Today’s offering is a piece created by Alabama author Irene Latham from the lines of other poems. Latham distributed the poem to readers and writers when she visited the University’s campus three (or so) years ago. I applaud the acumen and patience of individuals who do this kind of work–piecing together the beautiful words of others to create a new and still beautiful thing.

“How to Live Your Poem” by Irene Latham

Cultivate a secret life. Discover the fuel that feeds you. Eat peaches. Take the road not taken. Change your life. You do not have to be good. Go back. When the time comes to let it go, let it go. Reinvent. Identify what stays with you latest and deepest. Remember disobedience is the first right of being alive. Don’t think you’re better, stronger, or more important than you are. Pour yourself like a fountain. Come into the peace of wild things. Wait. Take the string you need. Forget-me-not. Believe morning is new sheet of paper. Don’t be polite. Go a-dabbling.  Let the rain kiss you. Allow yourself to be spelled differently. Feel the stars and sun and bells singing. Live with a full moon in each eye. Un-self yourself. Love still as once you loved, deeply and without patience. Know of nothing else. Know of nothing else but miracles.

The poem was created with lines from poems by Stephen Dunn, Naomi Shihab Nye, Li-Young Lee, Robert Frost, Rainer Maria Rilke, Mary Oliver, Sharon Olds, Walt Whitman, Paisley Rekdal, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Wendell Berry, Marilyn Singer, Lilian Moore, Ralph Fletcher, Eve Merriam, Kenneth Grahame, Langston Hughes, Emma Mellon, Gwendolyn Brooks, Hafiz, Christine Deluca.

We’re living in a surreal moment, but even with self-isolation and social distancing, we can choose to live out loud and live our poem.


About the image: The unrelated and not-so-great squirrel “portrait” is from another time, when I could happily take daily walks through campus observing spring’s awakening. The squirrels and I had become companions; we were a little wary of each other, but they often remained posed long enough for the click of the camera. This little guy was enjoying an afternoon snack and “living his poem.” He’s visiting for #WordlessWednesday. 🙂

The Brave Rabbit and the Hungry Wolf

“The Gray Wolf,” Endangered Species. Photo by Tom Brakefield for Impact Photographics. Dedicated to the preservation of nature.

I received the “gray wolf” postcard above for Love Notes 29.1. At first, I was so focused on the message that I did not see the rabbit the wolf is pursuing!

I know this is how things work in the animal kingdom, but this is a poor, defenseless bunny! 😩

The first prompt was, “Don’t be afraid to…,” so Kasey, my partner, shared three bits of advice:

Don’t be afraid to:

  • Step out of your comfort zone. Oh, the possibilities abound! How will you ever know if you don’t try?
  • Stop and smell the roses. Life is too short to not make the most out of it.
  • Take the road less traveled. Who knows? It could be the best one you’ve taken yet!

I’m not sure why Kasey chose this card for the prompt, but I’ve come up with an explanation that satisfies my need to have the bunny survive the ordeal.

Maybe, the little rabbit went out into the world to conquer his fears. He “stepped out of his comfort zone” and took “the road less traveled.” He knew there would be dangers and tests along the path, but he “stopped to smell the roses” anyway. That’s what creatures do when they live outside of fear.

You see? This isn’t the end of the rabbit’s story; this is just one part of the journey. The struggle heightens his awareness and pushes him to develop strategies and tools to avoid such pitfalls in the future.

The little rabbit will have a fuller, deeper life because he faced his fears!

As for the wolf…he found something else to snack on. 😉


From postcard back: The Gray Wolf (canis lupis) mates for life and lives in packs of family members and relatives. The strongest male is the leader of the pack and all the members help to care for the young. The pack will work together on a hunt by chasing down its victim or driving it to circle back to the waiting pack. They can gallop and bound over short distances at speeds of more than 30 mph, and if they cannot capture their prey, they will abandon the attempt.

Goodbye, Bunnies! | #WordlessWednesday [with words]

“And just like that, they’re gone.”

My guys and I said good-bye to the rescued rabbits early, early one morning last week. They explored the little patch of land we placed them on for a moment, watching us warily [thank God!].

Within moments, they gave their final good-bye and took off.

At first, they were headed in two different directions, but my hubby, the animal whisperer (not kidding!) got them to hop along together.

I didn’t think to capture the “together” shot, but my son captured video and shared a still of the more curious of the two just before we walked away. The other is just beyond him, well-camouflaged.

We released them into a nature preserve we frequent and where we regularly see rabbits, so we are sure they are surviving and thriving in their new world.

The guys and I took a walk on the trails a few nights ago to see if we could spot them. We didn’t, but I did capture shots that I’ll share in another post. Promise.

Now There Are Two: Meet the Bunnies

Once upon a time there were four little rabbits. –Beatrix Potter, opening [half] line of The Tale of Peter Rabbit

We have bunny house guests! I’m not sure how long they’re going to stay, but we are loving our furry, very active little visitors.

As I write this, I’m watching them run to and fro in their temporary home, the dance they perform to let us know they are hungry. They are always hungry. They’re also nosy…uh…curious little things.

“Curiosity”

The bunnies have been with us for almost a month. My husband received a message from my son’s school that three recently orphaned bunnies needed a home, so my son and I picked them up at the end of the school day and eagerly took them home.

“Photo Bomb”

The poor babies witnessed the horrific demise of their mother at the hands of a hungry and determined coyote. I imagine she sacrificed her own life to protect her little ones. Can you imagine the terror those bunnies experienced? I know nature is nature and coyotes have to eat too, but still…”bad, bad coyote!”

These are not “keeper bunnies,” so we haven’t given them names or handled them as we would pets. Because they will be released back “into the wild” eventually, we don’t want them to lose their survival instincts.

Sadly, one of the triplets died not long after we brought them home. We’re not sure why, but we’re pleased the other two are happily thriving.

For just a little more bunny love, click over to Beverly Dyer’s Art Prescription; her “Soft Bunny” watercolor provides an extra dose of cuteness. Then, hop over to Holly’s ThreeSixFiveArt and swoon over “Bunny” drawn by a five-year-old Ellis. I drew a bunny this week, and I tell you, her art skills way surpass mine!

Wishing you a weekend of sweetness and warmth…and to all the fathers…

Happy Father’s Day!

The Elephants Know–It’s Been One of Those Days

Photo by Stefanie Powers/Viesti Associates

Look at what I found! A postcard from the ’90s!

Wow! That’s longer ago than it sounds. In fact, based on my address at the time, this postcard was literally sent at the beginning of the decade. 28 years ago. Can that be?!

The postcard came from the same friend I “mused” about a month ago. I found it in a file folder with some other postcards from lifelong friends–as I was cleaning out old stuff to make room for new stuff. It was odd to find them there, since I normally keep letters and cards organized in boxes.

The card is perfect for today. It matches my mood.

I’ve been stuck indoors all week because of cold and rainy weather, and I’m over it! I’m so over it! It’s cramping my autumn-loving style and hindering my ability to think straight and get things done. Including blog posts.

So, enjoy the elephants.

I’m going to curl up under my favorite blanket with a piping hot cup of pumpkin spice tea and a good book. Not Michelle Obama’s Becoming. I’m saving that one for winter break. 😉

Meet Kaja: The Lovely Bear

Kaja, Photo by Oliver Utz

Bears find themselves at the spot where two deep-seated but contradictory human impulses collide: the desire to feel protected from unforeseeable danger and the longing for unspoiled nature.  —Bernd Brunner, Bears: A Brief History

This lovely bear has been sitting in my “to be blogged” bin since February. Her name is Kaja. My Love Notes friend, Eileen V, sent the postcard after learning about my love for bears through a blog post featuring vintage bear postcards from another Love Notes friend.

Kaja is Eileen’s rescue bear. She was rescued along with her two sisters after spending 15 years in a small, concrete garage. The bears were poorly fed and had no exercise. As a result they suffer from arthritis.

The animals are now sheltered in the Black Forest Woods in Alternativer wolf und Bärenpark [Alternative Wolf and Bear Park] Schwarzwald in Germany, which provides the bears [and wolves] with an “animal-friendly home where they can use a natural environment to explore the area, hide, dig caves, bathe or retreat to hibernation.” In the park the animals “rediscover instincts and natural behaviors.”

I’m happy that Kaja has a home designed for her needs, but it saddens me that misdirected “love” for animals leads to their being mistreated. A bear is not a pet. Neither is a panther. Nor a bobcat. Nor a dolphin. Nor an alligator. Nor a rattlesnake.

Love them, but leave them where they belong.

The Solitary Bird

Just before heading indoors after exploring an abandoned bird’s nest one day last week, I looked up and the golden glow of the sunset sky was so gorgeous, I was stunned. Moments into admiring the sky, a single goose caught my eye, its partner a little distance ahead. I took the shot.

The photo reminded me of a poem Dr. Benn, my undergraduate professor and mentor, shared with me:

The conditions of a solitary bird are five:
The first, that it flies to the highest point;
The second, that it does not suffer for company,
not even of its own kind;
The third, that it aims its beak to the skies;
The fourth, that it does not have a definite color;
The fifth, that it sings very softly.
–San Juan de la Cruz, Sayings of Light and Love

Obviously, this goose has very little in common with the “solitary” bird described in the poem–it was not alone; it doesn’t sing; it doesn’t even “honk” softly. But the lens captured a bird alone and reminded me of the poem.

Life’s Rewards: “To Be Elated Over a Bird’s Nest…”

To find the universal elements enough; to find the air and the water exhilarating; to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter… to be thrilled by the stars at night; to be elated over a bird’s nest or a wildflower in spring – these are some of the rewards of the simple life. –John Burroughs

I submitted my grades today and closed the book on Spring 2018. As I looked outside my window yesterday and today, the beautiful weather beckoned me and provided the motivation to push to completion. The sky was filled with so many cumulus clouds that I couldn’t resist taking a few minutes to photograph them. Today was just as gorgeous, so I sent grades for my final class and grabbed my camera for more photos. [I’ll share those later–maybe, tomorrow].

After today’s session, my hubby and I visited a Killdeer that was nesting at the back of the yard. Although we cautiously approached, the bird left the nest to protect its brood. This gave me a good look at the eggs and a shot I liked [above].

Just before evening, we visited again with our little one. By this time, our feathered friend was a little more comfortable and remained on the nest, wary and watching. [Click an image for a closer look].

It stirred only when I changed my vantage point for a different shot.

The bird has been nesting for quite some time. In fact, my hubby told me about it some time ago–when I was too crazy-busy to take a look. It stood its ground and protected the precious cargo through lawn mowings and thunderstorms.

I appreciate its tenacity and courage.

And I’m grateful for the time I was able to spend with it. This felt like a gift–a reward–for maintaining my sanity once again through the crazy last half of the semester.

For more information about Killdeer, see the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Birdwatching.