From this post forward, please read and SUBSCRIBE to my NEW BLOG: WTF? (Where’s the Faith?)…a critical and crystallized vehicle of expression for a very niche audience–faith-filled and spiritual inspiration for people living through personal crisis and loss–NonantumKennebunkport 151a group that I am most proud to identify with.

My new blog “WTF? (Where’s the Faith?)” will replace THIS BLOG “Backyard Therapy.”

Before closing, I want to thank all my blogging-buddies for reading “Backyard Therapy”; without the encouragement and support, I would not have made it to this next stage. THANK YOU AGAIN!

Stay tuned!…until next time…faith forward!

Ever do perfect? Impossible.

Kindergarten 101 revisited: no perfect.

Remember?

Unleash the fire!

Unleash the fire!

So, why is it that in my mind I do everything perfect? Or I don’t do. In other words, I don’t do lots of things that really matter to me because I know the outcome will not measure up to my super high standards.

Many of my students in my writing workshops are the same way. They say something like, “I don’t want to write my novel because it will never be a best seller.”

My advice, of course, is always: “Write it anyway. Just write it.”

You can’t LIVE a dream if the fabric of it lays snarled around your mind and never sees light of day. Yes, an idea CAN LEAD to a reality; but meanwhile an idea is as dead as dead can be if it does not take shape, color and form.

Imagine this eulogy:  “She always had that book in her mind but now neither she nor the book will ever see the light of day.”  Sad indeed!

For months, okay, nearly a year, I agonized over this “Backyard Therapy” blog. I wanted to revamp it. Tweak it. Change it. Transform it until it screamed with all its might, attracted millions of followers and fans …, and … phew, let me catch a breath … the reality is, months have gone by, and NEVER MIND changing anything – I did not write one word, NOT ONE!

“Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good,” Voltaire said; one of my favorite modern-day uplifting writers and thinkers Gretchin Rubin periodically refers back to that simple, but profound thought.

And, here is how I think of it: “Don’t let good out-shadow good enough.”

So now, at least for today, I have broken the frame around my picture-perfect world and I’m back again. I am especially grateful to some fellow bloggers and very special friends like Aileen DePeter O’Sullivan who actually inspired me to move out of my mind–not always the best of places to reside–and come out to be found, found out or, better yet, just find myself. There is no better company than that of other fellow travelers who like me, irk at exposing their imperfections, but marvel to see that these shortcomings are what bind us, inspire us and join us to the core of the soul.

So with that said welcome to a new year and a totally revamped blog: WTF (Where’s the Faith?) …a more critical and crystallized vehicle of expression for a very niche audience…faith-filled and spiritual inspiration for people living through personal crisis and loss…a group that I am most proud of being a member.

 Stay tuned!…until next time…faith forward!

So it’s only been, oh, my gosh, one year, a whole year, since I last updated this blog. Betrayal, divorce, death, nearly losing my home … let’s see what else has happened? …. Oh, did I mention that life could never be better?

If you’ve ever been in a crisis mode—death of a loved one, death of a pet, victim of a crime, etc., etc., you know that in a flash life can become like living in a science fiction movie segment—that you can’t, no matter how you’d like to, escape from. That’s how the season was for me last fall. Yes, me, who for years presented PowerPoint presentations that encompassed feel good types of autumn day trip adventures to a variety of audiences in the region. What I once had preached –don’t miss the colors, smells, sounds of fall—I did not practice a year ago at this time.

Fortunately, years prior, I had learned to not allow situations to define me; to steal my true substance and being. I hoped that in the end, eventually, regardless of the outcome the “real me” (full of laughter, hope and faith) would prevail. But, meanwhile, I had to deal with a host of feelings that I could not flip a switch and shut off. Each catastrophe added, what seemed sometimes insurmountable, speed bumps into my life steps. One thing that helped me over these humps was that I kept telling myself that I would never have to go through this kind of turmoil again (hopefully) and next year (hopefully) would arrive, and I could enjoy the season.

Sure enough, this year I am out of the sci-fi mode and back into some semblance of reality. No, things aren’t “normal.” They never will be; only different. I am a newly divorced, single mom who may not be the same person she was a short year ago year, but I still wake up with the feeling of promise every morning – even more so …. My days are again full of laughter –the rip-roaring variety sometimes and faith. The nice thing about getting through the tough stuff is looking back, reflecting, and being reminded that today is a gift, a reprieve – for however long until the next calamity comes down the pike—and realizing that life, despite all its “luxury problems” is, oh, so worth the effort.

Last year, I threw myself a pity party by singing that old tune, “How can God do this TO ME?” This year, yes, what a difference a year makes, I can see God’s hand in it all. For instance, the family members and friends who have stuck by me, loved me unconditionally and completely.

It is as if I experience the glowing and fiery colors in the maples for the first time. In essence, at this segment of my newly defined life, this fall is a first for me; an adventure and I can’t wait to turn to the next colorful page.

Fall's Masterpiece unveiled!

Here we are in the early days of October and it seems that already every leaf peeper on earth is out on the trail.  Even my, otherwise, quiet hamlet of Easton, Connecticut, has turned into a bumper-to-bumper standstill of city folks hauling shiny pumpkins to their automobiles and waiting in lines at Sherwood’s Farm to partake of slow hayrides through the pumpkin patch.  Likewise, if you are trying to book an overnight stay at a New England Country Inn, good luck!

There is no better time than now here in New England to join the many other trailblazers and go outdoors.  To really rejigger, collect a few colorful leaves and scatter them as decorations indoors.  If you have friends living in less colorful areas, plan a day trip with the sole purpose of collecting leaves for them.  Then for five bucks or less, laminate them on an oversized sheet and drop the creation along with a sweet note into the mail. (I actually borrowed this idea from a woman I overheard at a copier shop doing this very thing for a friend.)

Color, color &, yes, more color!

Isn’t that the best way to rejigger, share your joy of the day-tripping experience with a friend?  Let’s face it, e-mail is a convenient way to keep in touch, but taking the time to send an “I care” package packs a stronger message of love

Patchwork quilt

Image via Wikipedia

I started officially day tripping in 1998 when I began writing a weekly day-trip column for a daily newspaper. In retrospect, I realize that each experience is a metaphor for a snippet of fabric composing an entire patchwork quilt that I cuddle myself in and rejigger, especially when I’m feeling a bit down, drained or overpowered by the big, bad world at large.

A peek inside Nonantum Resort, Kennebunkport, Maine

You see the people I met—from quadriplegics to tireless volunteers and everyone in between—have warmed my heart with stories that inspire me when my hope-on-tap meter begins to plummet. The places from shad museums to arboretums have tickled my imagination and left such an impression on me that I walk through life with a softer heel; face forward and aglow…a far cry from the decade or so that I spent eyes down with a frown. And the things…wow, those things. I don’t mean things that you accumulate. I mean things that mean some “thing.” Avery’s soda, for instance; it’s a shame I had to wait until I was well over forty to slug down a bottle of Dog Drool Soda.

Avery's, the Best darn place for soda anywhere in the world, New Britain, CT

Oh the bus trips I’ve taken, the tours I’ve done, canoe rides and hikes…the aerial rides…so much fun…best of all, in the end, I have stories galore, a patchwork quilt, in the spirit of Charlie Brown’s best friend, Linus, that will accompany me through all the rest of the days of my life. I may not have the most toys, but I do believe—as any frequent day-tripper will verify— I have the most joys.

One of my bus tours in Connecticut

One of "my" buses on tour in Connecticut

World's Largest Buffalo Statue in Jamestown, N...

Image via Wikipedia

This past summer, Parade Magazine had a delightful write up, titled, “Visit an American Original.” The gist of it was a list of 50 giant-sized landmarks.  From the world’s largest buffalo in Jamestown, N.D. to a giant roller skate in Anchorage, Alaska.

Does your town/city/village have a giant…something?  If it doesn’t, is there anything colossal to visit?  Think of the statues in your area around town and in parks and don’t forget your local cemetery too.  Are there any diners or eateries donning a giant hotdog or mega-burger on the roof or on its premises? Think.  You’ve probably passed it by.  Now, go and visit the landmark again.  Take some photos; delve deeper and find out who was responsible for the landmark.  I mean, I can understand the world’s largest strawberry in Strawberry Point, Iowa, but the world’s largest filing cabinet in Burlington, Vermont?

Atop Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul

Rejigger and set your next day trip travels around something big; big may not always be better, but it sure gives you lots of food for thought—with no calories.  It’s a great way to teach kids about a quirky way to appreciate and learn about things that may be big and under our noses, but we still miss them each and every time.

Maine Night

Image by Vanderlin via Flickr

“I’m alive,” he said to the boy, as they ate a bunch of dates one night, with no fires and no moon.  “When I’m eating, that’s all I think about.  If I’m on a march, I just concentrate on marching.  If I have to fight, it will be just as good a day to die as any other.

“Because I don’t live in either the past or my future.  I’m interested only in the present.  If you can concentrate always on the present, you’ll be a happy man.  You’ll see that there is life in the desert, that there are stars in the heavens, and that tribesmen fight because they are part of the human race. Life will be a party for you, a grand festival, because life is the moment we’re living right now.”

~ The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho

Want not! Nature Center, Hammonasset Beach State Park, Madison, CT

Outdoors, winding down after a long day of travel, I chatted last night with a good friend. I should say, I chatted. She, on the other hand, exclaimed, raising her arms toward the night sky, “It’s so clear! So clear. The moon is like a moon on a clear night in Maine. It’s a Maine night. Look how clear you can see the stars and…look at that moon. It’s crystal clear.”

I nodded, glanced and kept up my talk…how I would straighten out the world and everyone in it, if only…mind chatter that equaled mindless chatter…blah…blah…blah. In the toilet bowl of my mind, I missed “the moment.” I was alive. She was alive. We would never meet at that point in time again. I missed it, because of the gray matter nonsense between my ears. When I find myself in that messy place, quite frankly, it’s not real; it not the place of here and now.

Suddenly the sweeping skyscape swept me off my feet; my mind became as clear as the night’s sky. “Wow, do you see those blue stars? They are so blue, they are almost violet.” One flush of that messy gray matter, and I transported myself back to life…the real, perfect McCoy.

On your next day trip, rejigger and stop talking about yourself for a moment and start talking “it” up; “it” being those insignificant things that are so significant when we stop and notice and say, humbly and sincerely, “Thanks! I am not the end all and be all, and I can rest in your supreme and perfect presence.”

In the cyclical fashion of life and death, summer’s promenade nears its final steps.  I always contemplated why people spent so many hours planting flowers when summer seems to wink and flirt, and then without warning, scoot yonder before even an indulgence of a generous goodbye.

The Inn at Mystic, Mystic, CT

After having the opportunity to experience many summers in my life, I have finally figured out that the hours spent sowing, planting, preparing one’s garden….only to witness a spray of naked buds, yellowed leaves and empty soil patches, are an act of unconditional love.  If you could put the concept into words, the statement would be like this, “I believe that there is never an end, only a new beginning; I believe in promise and hope and the goodness of all things. I believe.”

On that note, rejigger and smell every single flower that you can on your next day-tripping adventure before season’s end.  Inhale, as if it is the last summer, the final hour, the final moment…breathe deeply the joy of now…and replace all of your mind’s chatter by repeating the following: “I believe.”

Jody Dyer, long-time owner of the Inn at Mystic, Mystic, CT

Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.

Kahlil Gibran


Book-ball sculpture, Open Book Center, Minneap...

Image by gruntzooki via Flickr

Museums, art galleries and creative venues are not the only avenues that can inspire the day-tripper. The ordinary trail outside of these types of attractions can also ripened and feed the eyes.

If you look intently, you will find novelty in a window display, in a fashion maven who bumps into you on the sidewalk; in a handful of pebbles strewn on the roadway.

On the day trip trail of museums in Minneapolis, MN, we serendipitously ran into this "piece of art"

One of the best things about day trips is that they overwork the eyes and other senses as well.  Look and look some more…although we may be in a stagnant place of life…the world never is; feed upon its colors, its nuances; eat in everything…there’s plenty of pie for everyone, so dig in, enjoy and rejigger!


I took the news personally and was dizzy in delight to hear that Dick Allen, a Trumbull resident, was named Connecticut’s new poet laureate in June.

Canterbury (CT) Public Library: Ever think I could be as great as Connecticut’s new poet laureate Dick Allen?

In the late 1970s, after getting partially off a rollercoaster ride via the adolescent addiction route, I took a poetry writing class at the University of Bridgeport with Dick Allen.  At the time, I was sandwiched in between a drug-induced past, conveniently whisked away under a shatterproof floorboard of denial, and a future that I did not dare glimpse. 

In his classroom twice a week, I emerged from my dark and solely occupied cocoon.  When Mr. Allen read his poetry, the classroom’s walls boomeranged with intonations and a rhythmic style that could dissect, pluck and reach so far into my soul that the process shook and awakened those parts in me that had been so comfy and so sleepy, wrapped in inertia, for so damn long. Although it took nearly six more years for me to shed fully my Rip Van Winkle-esque existence, the first building blocks in that course of action Mr. Allen’s influence mortared.

In other words, Mr. Allen taught me that in order to experience great poetry, like great life, you have to be alert.  Listen intently.  Peel away the brainy part of the head so that the heart has the room that it requires to breathe fully and, yes, love without restraint.  Love every damn thing down to the wart. 

As I ventured forth to become a travel writer in the 1990s, I approached each newfound milieu with a keen ear, sharp eyes and overzealous appetite that Mr. Allen had first mirrored to me in his classroom.  On my journey, nothing, absolutely nothing, whether a gnawed chicken bone on a supper plate or ladybug on a car’s windshield was mediocre.  My ears heard poetry everywhere. 

On your next day trip, before summer bats her last eyelash, whether you go on a rollercoaster ride or hide away in an alcove at an out-of-the-way library, see, hear, breath poetry.  Get off the jaded road before it is too late to hear poetry for poetry is everywhere…fine tune the hearing.  Afterwards, pick up a book written by the present Connecticut’s poet laureate, go home and read the poetry out loud as if it will be your final voice; then take this same principle on your future travels.

Ferns

By Dick Allen

Almost invisible, but once you look for them
nearly everywhere
like moss in crevices and drifting thoughts,

ferns are what it must mean
to love without yearning. Protectors
of everything small that needs to disappear,

deermice and tossed trash, bad brushstrokes in a painting,
theirs is the softest name, the softest touch.
They are social workers

as social workers should be—so full of calm
even those who don’t trust them
come into their care. Fiddleheads or not,

the rumor that once a year, on Midsummer’s Eve,
ferns blossom with tiny blue flowers
and if a pinch of fern seed falls upon your shoes

you will be less apparent—this rumor
is baseless: ferns have tiny spores
that travel in dew and raindrops,

no more magical
than Henri Rousseau, composing “The Peaceable Kingdom,”
or adder’s tongues, cinnamon, wall rue.

In the world’s secret corners,
men wish to vanish, but ferns are what look on,
trembling, holding all light green places.

From Ode to the Cold War: Poems New and Collected, Sarabande Books, 1997.

New Canaan, CT, Nature Center Greenhouse

 

 

 

Consummate Author! Consummate Journalist! Consummate Motivator!

Through simple secrets to a happier life like day-trip adventures and a gratitude journal by the bedside, I have not only been able to overcome many obstacles in my life, but erase negative and useless thinking…and, yes, learn to relax, rejuvenate, rejigger. *

Rejigger *

* “Quietly but noticeably over the past year, Americans have rejiggered their lives to elevate experiences over things. Because of the Great Recession, a recent New York Times/CBS News poll has found, nearly half of Americans said they were spending less time buying nonessentials, and more than half are spending less money in stores and online,” In Recession, Americans Doing More, Buying Less; NYT, January 2, 2010.

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