Health, Inspiration, poetry, Revision, Self Care, Staycations

A Bargain Way to Refresh, Renew, and Revive Yourself

Bridge on Chumash Trail, Santa Barbara

Hello,

I’ve been in the midst of digesting an editorial letter on a manuscript I sent in for editing. The information was a lot to process and there’s a ton of work in front of me. I’ve felt overwhelmed with the task of rewriting and revision.

Feeling overwhelmed happens to all of us. Sometimes it’s the kids, or bills, or relatives, or your job and sometimes it’s a combination of all of the above.

Whenever I feel my mind swamped, I need to step back, for my own sanity.

June is a good month to reinvigorate and revitalize.

Some people can’t take a costly vacation so Staycations are good ways to do something different as well as refresh yourself.

This month, I found a few ways to relax:

One Saturday was Global Wellness Day. The Bacara Resort and Spa in Santa Barbara offered free classes all day:

Bacara Resort in Santa Barbara, CA
The Bacara Resort in Santa Barbara, CA

Meditation on the bluff, yoga, Tai Chi, and Brazilian Capoeira. Not that I did the Capoeira. A highlight of the day was also receiving a reduced price for the spa day pass to use the pool, sauna, jacuzzi, and serenity room filled with teas, fruit, nuts, and cushy sofas.

Meditation by the beach, Santa Barbara, CA
Meditation by the beach, Santa Barbara, CA

A walk on the beach helped me to further relax.

Matilija Poppies, Santa Barbara, CA
Matilija Poppies, Santa Barbara, CA

Another day, I used a Christmas gift coupon I hadn’t made time for. This is the Salt Caves in Santa Barbara.

Himalayan Salt Caves, Santa Barbara, CA

The caves are made from 45 tons of 250 million-year-old pure Himalayan salt. We took off our shoes, entered the darkened cave and reclined on comfortable chairs. Meditation music is piped in for forty-five minutes. The salt is said to stimulate wellness and healing. Blissful.

The next week, I retired to my backyard and took in the colors of the garden, the sounds of birds, smelled the roses and felt reflective. I jotted down a poem.

statue of boy reading
Reading in the Garden

Hover of beating wings flit between blossoms

Flutters of orange dance above purple sage

Bumblebees disappear into white throats of lilies

Gardens, never silent, ever hopeful

Butterfly Dance in the Garden.

 

yellow poppies
Mariposa poppies

After these mini-retreats I feel uplifted and ready to tackle the edit letter and line edits. My mind is refreshed and I’m “ever hopeful.”

Have you taken a staycation this month?

See you in July!

Anne Lamott self care quote
Healing, Health, poetry, Self Care, tough times, Wisdom

What to Do When You Don’t Feel Safe

Anne Lamott self care quote
Unplugging-Anne Lamott

This has been a frightening week, interspersed with personal trying periods, and a need to bury my head for a couple of hours at a time.

My daughter texted me after the tragedy in Nice, France.

iPhone text
Text One
iphone text
Text Two

 

I hated that she felt unsafe. I hated that I couldn’t stretch my arms across 1,000 miles and give her a hug, kiss her forehead. All I could offer her was to look for hope and to take a deep breath.

But I had to remember that feeling unsafe doesn’t mean that we are.

This was my reaction to feeling powerless, angry, and fearful.

I wanted to share the power of prayer with her, but she isn’t Christian or of any faith anymore. That in itself added to my sadness. But, also gave me the opportunity, later, to have a conversation with her about why I pray and how that helps me.

That night the news across all channels broadcast the tragedy. Soon there was another world event, the attempted coup in Turkey, and another, the sniper attack on police officers in Baton Rouge.

I had to keep the television off and stay off social media. My mind, spirit, and body were out of whack.

My attempts at ‘righting’ myself was to practice some self-care. I tried to find ways to relax and experience safety.

The garden beckoned. The Monarch caterpillars had decimated the milkweed leaving it a skeletal reminder of a once gorgeous fiery orange headed plant. Meanwhile, new butterflies showed off acrobatic skills over the remaining fronds of the second milkweed bush.

Butterfly acrobatics
Butterfly acrobatics

While watering the potted succulents I found that two blossomed with beautiful flowers. Being in the garden helped and somehow pushed me to go to the gym and exercise.

Flowering Christmas Cactus in July-Southern Calif.
Flowering Christmas Cactus in July-Southern Calif.

That evening I decided not to go out and sat in my backyard coloring. My sister gifted me with the adult coloring books a few months back. This may sound cheesy, but I felt a lot of pleasure wielding the colored pencils, so much that I had to go buy me a box of Crayola crayons, the giant 64 set box.

The next day, I read a mesmerizing book of poetry written by a man who had been a slave and put into the ‘service’ of a wealthy slave owner as a child of six years of age. Although his verses expose the cruelty of slavery, his poetry reflects the beauty he finds with his parents and his own world.

Book of poetry, cuban poet Juan Francisco Manzano
The Poet Slave of Cuba by Margarita Engle. Poetry of Juan Francisco Manzano.

Meditation via my cell phone is a life saver. I either go to Pandora and listen to Deepak Chopra or I go to the Oprah channel and listen to one of Chopra’s 21 days of meditations. (Many times they are free).

On Sunday, I attended church service where I’m a greeter a couple of times a month. As I passed out bulletins to numerous families, teenagers and the elderly, the smiles people gave after a “good morning, I hope you enjoy the service” enlivened me.

I wondered why I felt a new energy, and it dawned on me that although the people were heavily burdened, they were trying to live and do the best they could.

Over the weekend, I kept in close contact with my daughter and shared the photos above with her. I don’t know if this helped her but it sure helped me.

Do the best you can. Create your own safe space. Hugs. 

 

 

 

Inspiration, poetry, Travel

The Inspiration of a Beautiful Garden

 

 Portal into a Garden-Denver Botanical Gardens photo by MAlvaradoFrazier
Portal into a Garden-Denver Botanical Gardens photo by MAlvaradoFrazier

On any trip I take I try to find a garden, whether a tiny patch of flowers in someone’s front yard or a botanical garden where I can get lost, inside my head and on the trail.

So I took the road less traveled between scratching shrubs, dirt, and rock, where spiny pine needles carpeted the earth. My eyes focused on delicate petals flying miraculous colors, every shade of purple, orange, red and yellow.

The scent of oak, a whiff of lavender, the sight of quaking grass reminds me that beauty exists among the everyday trials of life, a day of media news, or the sameness we sometimes feel.

I’ve been to this particular garden about seven times. There is always a new flower, a blooming tree or bush to entice me so I carry a journal, pen and my cell phone for photos.

This time, my thoughts spilled haikus, which is a good thing since I just read that Denver Botanical Gardens is having a haiku contest.

 

Japanese Smoke Tree-photo by MAlvaradoFrazier
Japanese Smoke Tree-Photo by MAlvaradoFrazier

A plume of smoke rose

lion-headed above the forest

welcoming summer

Chapungu Sculpture, "So Proud of My Children" by Nicholas Kadzungura
Chapungu Sculpture, “So Proud of My Children” by Nicholas Kadzungura

 

A tilt of face to

children reading together

a devoted mother

 

The stone sculpture is from Zimbabwe.

Pedestal of flowers-Denver Botanical Gardens photo by MAlvaradoFrazier
Pedestal of flowers-Denver Botanical Gardens photo by MAlvaradoFrazier

 

Forever entwined

Wrapped in a fragrance of love

Standing firm as one

Quote by Tao te Ching
Quote by Tao te Ching

 

This last one is not a haiku. I love the wisdom and peace of this quote.

Have a fun 4th of July. Enjoy.

 

Inspiration, Nature

A Beautiful Garden of Monarch Butterflies

Welcome, June. I’m enjoying the longer days, slightly warmer weather, and the discoveries in my new garden.

The two milkweed plants in the backyard attracted Monarch butterflies which I enjoyed watching last month as they danced above the blossoms and ducked into the leaves.

After pulling a few weeds, I stopped to admire the Milkweed’s orange-red blossoms, and there she/he was, munching away on a leaf. A gorgeous plump caterpillar.

milkweed plant with caterpillar on leaf
Milkweed with Caterpillar-photo by M.AlvaradoFrazier

In the past few years, I’ve looked for Monarchs in the eucalyptus trees in the next city where they gather during their southern migration from Mexico but I’ve never seen the beginning of their life cycle until now.

Milkweed is the only plant a Monarch butterfly will breed and deposit eggs. Those eggs are now caterpillars and some energetic ones made their way ten feet away and began their next stage on my patio. This one is underneath a patio chair, already in the J stage where it will attach itself with a silk thread. In a couple of days, I’ll gently move the chair into an area where someone won’t sit on it.

monarch caterpillar on patio chair
Monarch caterpillar in the J stage-photo by MAlvaradoFrazier

On Memorial Day, we sat around the patio table and discovered another tiny treasure. Seems like the caterpillar journey wasn’t solitary. Another little guy/gal attached itself to a steel leg at the bottom of the table. At first, I didn’t know what this was until I remembered my friend, Dani, who said Monarch’s have beautiful chrysalis (cocoons). Well, this little jewel is jade green with dots of gold on its rim.

Monarch chrysalis on patio table
Monarch chrysalis- photo by M.AlvaradoFrazier

Dramatic changes take place inside the chrysalis. There are things we can’t see but know are happening. Just like life. Metamorphosis is occurring and with the process, I gain inspiration and hope.

In a few more days another Monarch will be born, fly over to the milkweed, get nourishment and return to Mexico.