Perspective Changes Everything

As I noticed the swallowtail caterpillars devouring my parsley over three days, it reminded me how perspective changes everything. In my early gardening days, I always picked off caterpillars. After all, they were another pest in my garden. The connection between a caterpillar and the beautiful butterfly wasn’t solid in my mind until I studied biology in junior high school.

Who Doesn’t Love Butterflies

My first reaction at seeing the yellow and green striped caterpillars was, “Yes, finally!!” I was overjoyed to have caterpillars on my parsley. Although I planted it for my consumption, I also expected the eastern black swallowtail butterflies visiting nearby Pentas, to lay a few eggs on one of their favorite larval plants, parsley. I consciously invited these little caterpillars to my herb table.

Nature works in concert to keep the natural order in check. Birds eat insects when they are plentiful, lady beetles eat aphids when they explode and I pick off caterpillars when there are more than my parsley can survive.

I call this being a steward of my garden. With the help of my dog, Sugar, we removed most of the caterpillars from my parsley, leaving seven of the largest ones to mature into adults.

From One Animal to the Next

When I visited the parsley this morning in hopes of finding a pupae, I was horrified to find a multitude of snails instead. Snails and slugs can decimate a garden of tender plants like parsley. I set about picking them off the bare stems and breaking their shells against the terra cotta pot. Yes, I can be brutal in my garden.

Soon I realized there were too many of them to exterminate by hand. Quickly I headed to the storage building where I have a corner for all my friendlier pest deterrents. I rummaged around until I found the well hidden Garden Safe Slug and Snail Bait. After reading the instructions, I decided to apply right then.

Conclusion

My interest in my garden is diverse.
I love the plants.

  • seeing the shapes, contrast, or colors
  • inhaling the aroma of my white flowers
  • eating their fruit
  • feeling the softness or hardness of their leaves
  • admiring individual plants and carefully arranged groups

I love the birds and butterflies.

  • hawks announcing their territory at the top of a tree
  • red cardinals chirping and hummingbirds finding nectar
  • sandhill cranes flying over with their clear rattle calls
  • Gulf fritillary butterflies emerging on the maypop
  • the first zebra longwing attracted to the native firebush

I admire the circle of life in nature.

  • swallowtail caterpillars devouring my parsley
  • Vermin eating fallen fruit, corn snakes eating the vermin
  • bald eagles diving for fish in the lake
  • alligators capturing fish or turtles in its jaws
  • man hunting the alligator, eating the tail meat, tanning the hide

All my life, judgement is with me, keeping me safe by warning me the stove was hot, sometimes reducing my happiness when I judged or felt the sting of judgement from others. My pain from judgement brings tears as I write this, tears for me and for all those I judged. What is left after letting go is forgiveness, love, and caring.

My hope for you is appreciation, understanding how perspective changes everything, letting go, and love for all, especially yourself.

Warmly,
Dawn

My Week of Clarity Emerges

This message about my week of clarity received inspiration from the weekly newsletter I receive from Dan Blank, founder of We Grow Media. His email arrived just as I opened my Gmail app with the subject, “Finding creative clarity”.

I immediately thought, “He’s writing about our collaborative journey.”

My Week of Clarity

Early in the past week, Dan and I had our first conversation in a one-on-one working relationship. We could have started with an easy task, like improving my bio. Rather, I chose to work on my mission, my reason for writing, my ‘why’. After all, isn’t that basic for any decision, project, or life path? And isn’t this week of clarity essential to my writing process? Yes to both questions.

After I read Dan’s newsletter subject, my gaze fell on the pile of clean clothes on my dining table. It jumped out as a metaphor of my jumbled thoughts. Before I could start my day, this anxiety around the laundry needed attention.

Many Paths to Clarity

I find menial tasks with my hands allow ideas to flow. Some of my favorite tasks for this are pulling weeds, folding clothes, or washing dishes. Doesn’t this scene feel calmer, clearer, and fulfilling? It’s not perfect, but it is closer to clarity.

Clarity emerges

Furthermore, for me, it is so helpful talking to just one person about ideas. The physical act of speech often brings about clarity by honing my jumble of thoughts into a single line of realization.

Finally, reading about Dan’s Clarity Cards, I remember the first time I was exposed to this process. It seemed so daunting. In contrast, today I feel I can wrap my head around this, creating order out of chaos.

The Message for You

Every person is unique. While we have different paths or different ways of understanding, we can act on nuggets of information, finding our own clarity, one step at a time. If you found anything in this blog that speaks to your heart, please let me know in the comments.

Feeling calmer,
Dawn

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Gratitude is the Answer to Your Question

How do I stay positive during trying times? Gratitude is the answer. This small watercolor painting of the swan always fills my heart with gratitude. It reminds me of the time with my family when I was twelve at Busch Gardens in Tampa, where I took the photo of a swan with my Polaroid Swinger. I chose that moment for my reference at age thirty-seven as I experimented with a gesso and watercolor technique. Every time I look at this painting, my heart fills with gratitude that spans over decades.

You can feel the same with practice.

Give Me Examples

Being home with my children is driving me crazy.

  • First, ensure your children are safe
  • Then go to a quiet place
  • Close your eyes
  • Take 3 deep cleansing breaths
  • Imagine you are at away at work, wondering how your child is feeling away from you
  • Feel the sadness, the longing to be together
  • Now shift back to now
  • I’m so grateful they are right here with me
  • Come out and give your child a comforting hug
  • Repeat as needed
  • Gratitude is the answer

I miss being with my best friend.

  • First, move to a quiet place, where you are alone
  • Take 3 deep cleansing breaths
  • Call  your friend
  • Close your eyes and imagine they are right there with you
  • Enjoy your conversation
  • Tell them how grateful you are they are in your life
  • Repeat as needed
  • Gratitude is the answer

The Mind Shift

Dealing with fear, sadness, disgust or anger is possible. All these emotions are choices we make. Instead, using breathing techniques and being in the moment, choose joy, peace, trust and love.

How Do I Shift My Emotions?

  • First, go to a quiet place, where you are alone
  • Close your eyes
  • Take 3 deep cleansing breaths into your heart space
  • Imagine your favorite place
  • Listen to the sounds
  • Breathe in the fragrance
  • Continue to bask in this beautiful space
  • Slowly open your eyes
  • Repeat as needed
  • You have experienced gratitude in this exercise

How Can I Find Gratitude ____?

Fill in the blanks with your current situation. After you have performed at least one of the exercises above, go through this list. And always look for the positive.

  • I have time to enjoy _____
  • Explore the world virtually
  • See the small delights in your surroundings, right now
  • Be gentle with yourself
  • Be gentle with others
  • Smile
  • Gratitude is the answer

This Seems Too Simple

That’s the beauty of it. We become accustomed to rushing, stress and overwhelm. By the simple act of mindful breathing, we reset our minds and emotions. It’s very simple and how wonderful to have found the space to do that now. I’m taking advantage of this more quiet time at home to reconnect with the love and peace within.

Won’t you join me?

With Love and Caring,
Dawn

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