Sunrise Chasing

It has been way too long since I’ve gone to the ocean. And it’s across the street! Shame on me! That was my thought (again) yesterday after work, after another week that emotionally and mentally and therefore physically drained me to the max. 

This morning, the call was way too strong to ignore. My soul needed it. Desperately. And I felt a loved one also nudging me. 

I hear the sea calling to me to return,
and your voice, love, imploring me
to let my soul have what it yearns…

On the way to the bridge and on the way over it, “Gloria in Excelsis Deo” came on the radio just as the sky was bursting with morning glory. Windows down, music up, singing along, I felt my soul begin again to mend itself. Sometimes, I need the most beautiful ballads, and other times, carrying the same “burdens,” I simply need to lift my voice in songs of praise to my higher power. When I witness the absolute miracles of nature, how can I not?

Gloria in excelsis Deo,
Glory to the highest in God.
Lord, I see and feel your presence,
and my praise and thanks, I offer up…

In the past couple of years, I have been in the best place I’ve ever gotten to so far in this life despite (perhaps in spite of) 2020, seemingly so far from the shadows of a difficult past, basking in the warm light of love of late. Yet, I did feel the tickle of that demonic tentacle recently, even took a personal day because I felt like I simply couldn’t make it through the week. The next day, I cried at work from a fresh heart-infliction. Teaching in 2020 has challenged us as educators and stretched us all to our near-breaking points. But we are family at my school, so we gather (6 feet apart) at lunch each afternoon and do our best to laugh it all off. Laughter, I feel, is truly still the oldest and best medicine. 

Thank you, Lord, for laughter;
may that sound find its way
to the ones in these times who most need it.
Let it be channeled again through me 
to make someone’s day
for mirth mask-muffled is still healing.

My other top natural remedies have always been faith and nature. And now the added goodness of the man who fully loves me as me. And all of these were present in me as I sat in the silky sand before the lively ocean, the 70 degrees and plenty of sea breeze also infiltrating my body, mind, and spirit. 

It’s so easy to get pulled down, isn’t it? Down has always been seen as the negative direction. Higher powers in higher elevations, clouds and sky… The weight of perceived burdens and mental inflictions and the things we voluntarily shackle to our ankles is so heavy. The soul is weightless. The wings of humans, invisible. The altar barer than ever. If only we would lay more down. Offer more up. Let Him take more of it, all of it, from us. Why do we cling to it? Why is it so easy to forget that He is always beside us, always with open arms? Why is it so easy to forget how to swim, how to fly?… We simply need not sink or be prisoners of gravity. We can let it get washed away. We can uncage our souls. We can lean on others, even let them carry us for a while. We can open our hearts to love and to receive love. We are never alone. I think we simply choose it sometimes. 

So much inside me rose up this week. To attempt to defeat me. From places of my past maybe. From my own former voice to myself maybe. It’s hard to repel that gray when the cloud rolls in to consume you. It’s trying to take us all though. So shouldn’t we now, more than ever, unmask our hearts and join in spirit to lift each other? 

I plead for the sea breeze to vigorously whisk away my negativities.
I allow the ocean waves to wash away all the rest that is heavy. 
I lift my voice in song and cheerfully praise His glory. 

I raise my hands and pray to be free from this melancholy. 

Words and images from this morning ©LauraDenise

Gray Plague

Gray Plague

Part choice, part determination
it seems to be
to avoid the extermination
while still living
caused by the loss
of feeling
when we fall
into that state
of complacency,
the dangerous hibernation
of our dreams,
the steps we take
turning our back
on the way
it could be,
should be…

It’s not easy
to keep the gray
from taking
our colors.
We fade,
part victim,
part converter;
we don’t sell
our souls,
we give them
now away
in exchange
for tickets
to nowhere
but in that gray
for longer,
forever,
to remain.

I feel the pull
of the evolution
of the devil,
the camouflaged
minions, the demons
no longer with arms
now casting spells.

I feel the brush,
the tickle of tentacle;
to kick it off
takes more than will.
Too many sleepers
not getting taken
but tricked into nonthinking
by the sweet song of sirens.

I climb the mountain
and expectedly find
the gray shadow
spreading like
turpentine.

I wrap my limbs
protectively
around my colors
and flee to find
my favorite
awake other.

Together, we embrace,
not in fear
but as survivors
thankful for
our non-superpowers.

We will not
succumb
to the non-fate
of the others
who gave freely away
one by one
each of their
colors.

We will keep painting
on life’s canvas
to preserve
hope and beauty
with each
brush of our breath,

not with fire,
but signaling
with bright hues
to the others
who may be out there still
imbued.

Ultimately, this poem originated from reading a dear WP friend’s poem and listening to a song he posted (which I shared above). (If you are not connected with Ivor Steven, then your life is not as bright as it could be because the light of his soul shines like none other.) Ivor’s poem captures, despite the melancholy mood from the song, a wonderful moment––a pastry, a poem reading, a friendly unmasked smile. Simple. Yet everything really.

October Blooms

How can I possibly focus
when you’ve gone
and set abloom
all the colors in me
in such sweetly-scented hues?

How can I command
self-discipline when
your inspiration stirs
my creative passions?

How can I do those things
I need to tend to
when my soul heard your non-whisper
calling me my own muse?

How can I keep order
with this flutter of fancy within
that came about when that destined breeze
seed-sprinkled your goodness in?

Poem and this evening’s photography ©LauraDenise

Just-Right Breeze

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An open window and wings
are not enough to reach your dreams;
there must be the just-right breeze.
It comes from within
and ruffles self-belief.

You will know when it is time
to leave it all behind;
it is only a matter of mind.
A soul is predisposed to flight.

It is never that a dream
is impossible to achieve,
for all that is needed
is for that need to supersede.

Poem and images ©LauraDenise

2 a.m. Tears

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It’s been a while since I woke up teary, but even though the ache in my heart was legitimate, I knew it would be temporary. And that alone makes the difference sometimes. I remember all too well the many times I have cried in the dark, and in the bright light of day behind sunglasses, but felt trapped in that dead-end feeling of hopelessness.

I like denial, ignoring the negative parts of reality. I like procrastinating facing difficult truths. They are coping strategies, defense mechanisms, survival tactics. But every once in a while, you have to make eye contact with those realities. I recommend very small doses. Brief interactions. Just long enough to indicate you both recognize the other is present. This encounter is going to hurt, and you know it; you are going to lose a round, but it’s the only way to get any peace in the long run. You have to face it and get it over with. Eventually, you may need to take action, make life changes.

Sometimes what you have been emotionally and mentally avoiding wakes you up in the middle of the night. You don’t know it, but what seeks attention preys, I think, upon us in those hours because we are vulnerable without our usual digital and mile-a-minute distractions.

This is also the time that God and I are the closest, too, though. In the dark, in the quiet, in the stillness. 

I’m not sure which came first: my tears or my prayers. Sometimes, it is the turning it over to God that releases the tears, and sometimes it is the tears that remind me I am in over my head and need to give it to God.

In between my prayers, while the tears streamed, I reached over to stream any inspirational song on my phone. I chose “Rise Up” by Andra Day. (I used to be like many and tortured myself with sad songs when I was sad.) 

I’ve only had myself in life to lean on. I suppose a lot of that was/is choice. I’m getting better with letting people know me some, but I am usually guarded, and my way of life has always been taking on the world alone.

I’ve always had God though. There were many (many…) times I wasn’t able to feel His presence over the years, but I never gave up faith or prayer. In those times, when I cried before bed, it was that prayer alone (and/or Him) that calmed me. In recent years, maybe not so ironically after some major lifestyle changes, I feel His presence strongly in every single moment. And when you feel God…well, what better hands to be in? Everything seems possible.

But it is believing in some things being possible that tends to get me in trouble emotionally. I guess anything is truly possible, but at some point, for our emotional health, I think we need to make the conscious decision to let some of those possibilities go. I am an overdreamer. Sometimes, I need to sprinkle in the salts of reality. I am also one to hang on with all that I am to that very last possible, “What if?…” I’ve never handled well all of the not knowing, all we are not intended to know, though I’ve always had great faith in “Father knows best” and in His timing. I know I’ll know someday… 

So I played “Rise Up” at three-something a.m. as the tears streamed. I’ve seen the music video; it is about a woman who takes care of her paralyzed husband. That’s pretty powerful. But I took it even further (or maybe just took it wherever I could to relate because I’ve never had a partner, though I’ve risen plenty of times for my children). I made God the “for you” part of the song. Almost simultaneously, though, I felt Him giving it back to me, suggesting that the “for you” actually be me, to rise for myself, to believe in myself and to love myself as He does, but He will help me and be with me.

At this moment, I thought about all of those I know and don’t know who may be struggling with the inspiration to rise out of bed and face the day. 

Rise up for myself, but not by myself?…

While contemplating that, right at the part of the song in which she sings, “All we need is hope, and for that, we have each other,” my pup came up from the foot of the bed looked at me and went back to cuddle up at my feet. I felt like that, too, was a small, helpful reminder from God, and it made me smile. While crying. And when you can smile while crying, you know it’s all going to be okay.

So I turned myself around in my bed and cuddled my Beau (he came with that name when I adopted him), literally dried my tears in his fur. And we both rose eventually without falling back asleep, me to put on the coffee, and him to bring me his squeaky duck to play.

It is currently still dark out. I still have heartache. But soon, the sun will rise. In time, it always does. In the meantime, my gaze lingers awhile on moon; we have quite a history together. But that is an entire separate book of poetry… 

Colliding Light

This song came up on my playlist as I was beginning my yard work after my first day back to my classroom when this small wildflower caught my eye. When you are a poet-photographer-believer-passionate teacher, such a thing can become life changing, lol. I was so moved by the way the sinking sun was highlighting the flower. After looking like a fool in my front yard (as usual) photographing it, I hit replay on the song while I mowed the lawn, thinking about my own personal journey. I knew I would need to stay up a little past bedtime to write about it.

First of all, good gracious what an absolutely beautiful and inspiring song! I had heard of the artist, but not that song. If you know anything about me, you know I have a thing for wildflowers. I just see such stories in them, even (especially?) in the “weeds.” So often underfoot and overlooked, I am drawn in to observe them up close; I like to portray them as majestically as possible, to showcase their extreme beauty.

I’ll let the poetry (and unedited images) take over from here…

“Colliding Light”

Little yellow wildflower,
it is your turn to shine,
can’t tell if the beams
are coming down as blessings
from heaven or bursting
forth from your soul inside.

Perhaps the two are being joined

since you finally put fear aside
and went after the dreams
you for too long denied

yourself. Yourself… your self…
So much time
you spent focusing on everyone
else…

Who are you? You’ve always known,
simply forgotten, buried too many
of your needs, kept them beneath
with doubt drought,

but need and dream seeds
eventually sprout;
there is no holding them
down.

You are in bloom,
your joy bursting,
and the Son
shines down
in happiness.

Yes, a mix
of bliss and blessings
I simultaneously see
when self-love and -care
are witnessed by
His Majesty.

Both ways,
the rays
reach…
and meet,
the radiance
of the heart
outwardly seen.

Words and images ©LauraDenise

Unstoppable

I am unstoppable.

Though I have fallen,
though I have felt
sealed in a tombed fate,

I have risen,

I have relentlessly followed
that one ray of light.
I have never
lost faith.

I have found my way,

and the light of day
blinds my eyes
and its warmth soaks into
my soul;

I have found my glow.

Which way to go?

D
o
w
n

upon my knees
to once again pray;
in complete humbleness,
I express to Him
my thanks.

I feel His hand

finally
upon my shoulder
as He lifts the clouds
and clears my path
with the other.

I hear the Spirit

in the wind whisper,
“You may go whichever way you choose.”
Every single one of the paths
to me seems
so equally beautiful…

What will I do
with this new power?
Go back
and help the others.

 

In Darkness and Doubt

This one’s for a friend. For my son. For my student. For you. For me.

We all stumble.
Sometimes merely a trip,
sometimes down a seemingly
endless, dark abyss.

We all get lost.
Sometimes we find our way,
sometimes indefinitely
in the same spot,
we remain.

We all face obstacles.
Sometimes they lift,
sometimes they seem
utterly hopeless.

(Photo by my son)

We all lose sight
of the beauty within.
Sometimes a mirror lies,
sometimes a “friend.”

We all are small.
Sometimes toward Him
we feel the pull,
sometimes we feel
invisible.

But…

The thing about a hole,
even one without a bottom,
is that there is always a top
so the direction is clear: up.

A loved one will be by soon
to lower the rope.
It is up to you
to hang
onto that hope.

And if no one comes,
the direction is still the answer:
He is always there.
He hears your prayers.

Sometimes the hole
was put there on purpose,
the time in it ironically necessary
for advancement.

Sometimes you have the tools already
and simply need to begin the ascent,
for sometimes it is up to you
to get to that ground-level summit.
He already knows you can do it.
Sometimes the self-help in itself
is the only missing ingredient.

The last thing about a hole
is that you never forget
how much space
what is missing inside
takes up,
and you will feel
so much fuller
than any other
when it gets filled up.

We all get lost
in different forests,
for no one ever
seems to be around,
endless looping trails
we wearily trudge,
the darkness of the deep wood
making the light
but a teaser,
the source unable
to ever be found.

The key to getting out
is to keep moving
in new directions;
the path worn
by our own feet
is the very one
that sinks us
into the false belief
that there is no other way.
Sometimes we even stop
trekking altogether
and set up camp
in one spot,
a surefire way
to eliminate
a destination
is to not move
at all.

The light is ever-shining,
day and night;
we are never truly left
in the dark,
for He gave us
both sun and moon
as an eternal spark,
and to keep
our whispered dreams lit,
the stars.

Obstacles work
in similar fashion,
a mountain before you
threatening to spew
lava and ashes.

Obstacles are meant to be
overcome,
sometimes the threat
intentionally sent
from Satan himself
to paralyze you with fear;
the paradise on the other side,
he tries to keep you
from getting any nearer.

But the mountain is harmless.
You can waste time and effort
attempting to go around it,
but the view from the top
is worth it,
so I highly recommend
climbing it.

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(Photo by my daughter)

And when you reach the top,
you get to see
that past in better perspective
in which you felt trapped
before turning back
and beginning the adventure
of what comes next,
the future not clear,
but the lush panoramic
welcomes your fresh
starting steps.

When it comes to sight
to see the beauty within,
if you don’t know it yet,
then you need to start
with dispelling the myths
that usually come
from another’s words
or simply judging yourself
by warped societally-produced standards.

Two remedies I have found to be effective.
The first: submerse yourself
in the positive affirmations
that come from someone else
until those whispers
drown out
the past-yelled lies
and even the ones
in your own eyes
you cast upon yourself.
They are false.
You will, in time,
come to love
yourself.

In the meantime,
you can dispel
those warped society beauty-standards,
for you were created
with love and purpose,
precisely as God intended,
every detail;
there are no imperfections.
Do what you can
to honor
the body your soul
was given;
it is the temple
of the Holy Spirit within.

We are, indeed, all small.
It is meant to fill us with awe,
to remind us we are part
of something so much grander
than we could ever imagine,
a divine plan.

We are never alone,
the presence of a higher power
is around us all
so when we begin to feel
undetectable,
when our “lives”
seem the end of the world,
our perspective
of those big problems
should dissolve some
to know
it is much of that
that is insignificant
in the grand scheme of things.

We are embraced
in the loving arms
of Mother Nature,
the personification
of the natural world
gifted by our Creator.
We are all interconnected,
each an essential thread
of something in the making,
a much larger picture
guided by a divine hand.

The key component
in all of these woes
is belief in a higher power;
it is essential for faith
and hope.
You are never
alone.
The direction is up,
always the Guiding Light
home.


When we give up,
we give in
to the doubt
of His very personal plan
for each of us.
Only He knows what lies ahead,
and it often lies in
our own hands,
for He gave us free will
and intellect and talents,
throws us curve balls
like holes and mountains
not to test us,
I don’t think,
but for our own good
to steer us
to challenge us
to shake us
to wake us
to become all that He knows
we can.

I am His child.
I will always
trust His plan.
Especially in the times
I get frustrated
because I just don’t
understand.

We are not meant to
until we are,
and that revelation
may only be revealed
in the language of
stars.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)

The Green

Golden sunbeam

finds me

between the leaves;

I cannot hide

from nature’s loving

reach.

Each new day

offers new ways

for sleepy dreams

to be rejuvenated

and for goals

to be reached,

for the only thing

between

is belief,

and will

to go after

each,

for guaranteed

after every winter

like spring,

the potential

in every bare branch

and buried seed is

the green.

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Poem and images ©LauraDenise

Happiness Is

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Happiness is not always yellow

and sunny.

Laughter favors

no particular season.

A smile, though sparked

most easily by another,

still stems and spreads

from within.

 

The Moon and Clouds of Gray

still reach out

with benevolence,

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want just as much as Sun

to see your face,

your wings spread wide

to spin and dance,

 

and Rain,

oh, sweet unfavored Rain,

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continues faithfully to play,

an orchestra with Thunder,

despite ingratitude

and complaints.

 

Embrace the rain!

Remember what it is to

play

before the gripes

of adulthood

swept you away.

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And remember the warmth

offered by Sun

can still tickle dimples

from hibernation,

thaw a smile

from the ice,

despite the cold

and long winter season,

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for hope,

like joy,

can always be found

if you simply

go out

and look around,

 

though the truest truth is

it can always be found

within,

though the best way

to waken the laughter

from the heart

is to allow another

in.