Friday, November 1, 2013

Juxtaposition - Firefly Forest Part 6

As you can see from the title, this post is part of a series. 
So if you haven't read the others take a few minutes to do so. 
Links can be found at the bottom of this page.

  1. 1.
    the fact of two things being seen or placed close together with contrasting effect.


I love the parable of the mustard seed that can be found in the Bible. 
It is short, simple and profound. 
The smallest of all herb seeds, when properly nurtured and fully grown, 
becomes the largest of all herbs, even unto a tree. 
So many lessons here!
And an interesting literary juxtaposition. 

There a similarly inspiring visual juxtaposition in Firefly Forest. 
One of few words and many thoughts.

A tiny little door, 
Less than the size of my iPhone. 

Standing strong, proud and happy 
at the base of a very tall tree.

Open the door and see this...

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Playing Favorites - Firefly Forest Part 5

If you are just now joining this series of posts, 

I know. I shouldn't play favorites. 
My kids remind me this all the time. 
And they have for years. 
But every once in awhile they insist that I do
because they want to be the favorite for a day.

It's really not fair. 
And if you're a mom you know how tricky this can be. 
So I come up with tricky things to say. 
"You're my favorite son!"  
(True because I only have one.) 
"You're my favorite unmarried daughter!" 
(Also true because I only have one.) 
"You're my favorite mother of my first grandson!" 
(Yup. I only have one). 

But having to play this game makes it all the more satisfying 
when I can flatly choose a favorite "something" without feeling an ounce of guilt. 

And that is exactly what happened on my next visit to Firefly Forest. 

I had gone to photograph the little red door, 
which on this day looked like this...

And this...

Complete with this...

And this...

(Can you believe how it's grown?)

When just yards down the lane,
quietly tucked away,
 and looking oh, so au naturel, 
I nearly missed this...

Oh, for the love!!! 

And honestly!!

From the "chandelier"...

To the little hammock...

To the raw and natural building materials 
that take me back to my childhood in a backyard forest... beckons my mind to lazy summer days. 
Or quiet island retreats. 

And suddenly I have no problem playing favorites.

Because all I can think is, 
"Who sleeps in that little hammock, anyway?"

And I smile.
Really, who wouldn't?

Yes! Still more Firefly Forest posts to come!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Giving Tree - Firefly Forest Part 4

Links to Firefly Forest Parts One, Two and Three are below. Check 'em out!


Many of us are familiar with the children's book by Shel Silverstein named, "The Giving Tree". 
Some think it's wonderful, some think it's not so great. 
And there seem to be many differing views concerning hidden meaning. 
Heavy burdens for a children's book. 

I'll be quite frank in speaking that this has never been my favorite read. 
Because I always feel a little sad for the tree. 
As a child I didn't understand how the tree could be really truly happy by giving all of its leaves, fruit, branches, trunk, and pretty much everything for someone else's pleasure. 
But as an adult, with children of my own, I have come to understand this principle a little better. 

Often we find happiness, rest, relief and satisfaction in the receiving. 
But it is in the selflessly giving that we find 

So imagine my delight when on my next visit to Firefly Forest I came upon this...

A Giving Tree.

The little door in this hollow is different from the others. 
It is off the path, tucked away and quiet. 
And nothing about it seeks attention. 
In fact,  if you are not observant you will miss it. 
But if you are, and instead look closely, what you will behold is marvelous! 
And so very beautiful. 

Look at the intricate detail on the door. 
From the hinge, 
to the etching, 
to the door knob. 

It's just special. 

Open the door and you'll find this...

A little cigar box mirroring the outside. 
With an important message on the inside. 

Take something. Leave something. 

Four simple words to describe one of the greatest principles of living. 

On this day I watched as one group of young visitor's took small pebbles and left a lollipop. 
And I watched as the next little one took that same lollipop and left a hair ribbon. 
On another day I took my own grandson and watched as he left a toy car and took a little toy elephant. 
I wish I had videotaped his excitement! 
He hugged that elephant tight and squealed, "I LOVE IT!!!" 
And a beautiful memory was born.

It just makes you feel good inside, don't you think?

So give it a minute to simmer...
and sink into your heart.

Take something. Leave something. 

An idea so lovely that it naturally begs the question...
What will you take? 
What will you leave?

And in honestly answering we learn of ourselves. 

The Giving Tree

Firefly Forest Part Five Coming Soon 
(Yes! There's more!!)

Monday, October 21, 2013

Expansion Plans - Firefly Forest Part 3

(You are cordially invited to read Firefly Forest Part One and Part Two before proceeding. 
If you haven't already, you'll be glad you did.)

Okay. I don't know about you, but expansion plans usually make me a little nervous. 
Because for me they typically involve expansion of the waist and thighs. 
And trust me. I almost never actually plan for this.

But I have come to learn that in Firefly Forest expansion is part whimsical, part magical 
and a whole lot of genius. 
And probably very much planned. 

It was on my next visit to the trails that I found these really awe-inspiring developments;
Things that certainly do not happen simply by chance.

First of all, where there once was just a purple door, 
and then a flag, 
and a feather, 
and toys, 
and a cute little welcome mat, 
was now this...


So let's break it down a little. 

A new balcony...
(Because every door in such a very special wood needs a balcony, right? )

...with a ladder. 
(Because all good balconies call for a ladder.)

And a new place for posting notes. 
Because there was so much mail that the new little mailbox couldn't contain it all.
(Inside of the bag is note paper and writing utensils.)

And on this particular day was a very special note posted for "RT". 

In case you can't read it, it says this...

To: RT

Thank you so much for welcoming me into the forest. I am just about settled and am feeling right at home.

The Firefly Juice was a well timed and welcome treat. In honor of your kind gesture, I thought it appropriate to share it with our newest neighbor. Please join us this Sunday afternoon if your schedule permits.

Miss M

PS. Your latest addition is truly impressive! Perhaps you would give me some pointers once the season's preparations have been made.

Darling, right? 

And here, found just down the lane, the "new addition",
Where surely the "newest neighbor" now resides...

Doesn't this just make you want to squeal with delight? Aloud?
I did. Truth. 
Happy moments.
:-) :-) :-)

Take a look at all these little details...

And a peak inside...

Firefly Juice!!

It's brilliant, isn't it?

But wait... there's more!
Firefly Forest Part Four - tomorrow. 

Friday, October 18, 2013

Additionals! - Firefly Forest Part 2

(If you didn't read yesterday's post, please do before going on to this one. 

There's a reason someone decided to call it "Firefly Forest". 
You can probably figure this out.
It has a lot to do with the fireflies that fill the skies 
and light up the trails on hot summer nights. 
So amazing. 
Have I mentioned that I love fireflies? 
I love that they are bioluminescent and produce their own light to emit as energy rather than heat. 
And I love that they are symbolic of guidance, illumination, creativity, energy, inspiration. 
And hope. 
Which makes the "Firefly Forest" title perfectly suited to this stretch of trail that started with
just a door in the wood. 

After experiencing door one, then door two, I had to go back. 
But this time not for a run. Instead for a walk. 
With people I love. 
Because all good things beg to be shared with people we love. 
And on this walk what we found was delightful!

Where once was only a purple door....

Was now a purple door and a flag...
and a feather...

And toys...

And a cute little welcome mat...

And a new mailbox to collect all the notes that were so carefully and thoughtfully being written 
by curious passersby.

And next to the little red door...

This rock.

Okay. So I love this! Love, love, love!!
It's just one of those little things that makes everything feel better.
And sigh a little happy sigh.

What else do I love?
That the people that I love also loved this walk just as much as I did. 
And it wasn't so clear how many of these new additions were the craftmanship of the author 
Or the handiwork of anonymous contributors. 
But it was very clear that others were wanting to be a part of this simple and brilliant thing. 

And this was only the beginning...

Part Three - coming Monday.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

A Door in the Wood - Firefly Forest Part 1

Not far from the place where I used to live are beautiful paved trails that I used to run... 
Several times a week, several weeks a month, several months a year. 
Trails that are heavily treed on both sides, curvy, hilly, serene. 
And a step away from an ordinarily busy world. 
I have run them hundreds of times over the last several years. 
And while running I have written posts in my head, some of which have actually made their way to you. 
Two of which were specifically inspired by moments on the trail that are deeply significant to me. 
Both of which are my favorite posts ever. 
It is on these trails that I have connected with earth, found myself, and discovered my heart.

There is one particular stretch of trail connected by a bridge.
One side is open and grassy, available to the world and it's noisy offerings; 
The other is wooded and quiet.
I have always looked at this little bridge as a symbolic passage between 
where I have been and where I am going. 
And crossing over feels like entering a magical forest. 

Over the years I have picked out my own little landmarks on this stretch of forest---
 An oddly bent tree that I will someday lie upon to read a wildly engaging book; 
Stretching across the creek, fallen timber, that I will someday sit upon and have a really lovely chat 
with a really special friend;
And a tree hollow that has repeatedly caught my eye, yearning for a look inside. 
Each of these landmarks brings a gentle smile with each thoughtful passage.

I don't run these trails as much as I used to. 
But when I need to feel connected to nature and the healing it offers, I return and make this run. 
It was on one such day last spring that I did just that. 
And crossing the little bridge I imagined; 
Passing the oddly bent tree I smiled; 
And catching a glimpse of the fallen timber I hoped again for one special day, 
one special friend, 
and one special conversation. 

And then I approached the hollow in the tree. 

Something had changed. 

It was still hollow from the side. 
But much, much different from the front. 
Where once was a gaping hole was now...

A door in the wood.

A carefully crafted and perfectly placed purple door. With hinges. And a doorknob. 
Completely unexpected. 
And looking as if it should have been there all along.

(Cell phone shot. Don't judge.)

There is something about this kind of experience that just makes you giddy!
 I mean, honestly, I have run past this hollow So. Many. Times. 
And often wondered what kind of creature would/could/should live there. 
But never once did I think about a door. 
It's simply brilliant!
And made me smile for the rest of the day. 
And the next day. And every next day that I thought of it.

It is entirely fair (and truthful) to say that it was not long before this door drew me back into the trail. 
And it was on the next run that quietly tucked away on a little bend of the trail I found...

Another door in the wood.

Quiet. Unobtrusive. Uncomplicated. 
And red. 

This time I had to stop to see what was inside.
So I knelt down and reverently opened the door,
Because for some reason it seems disrespectful to disrupt such a place as this.

Inside I found little handwritten notes.
Questions about who might live there,
Comments about what a great addition to the trail the door was.
And words of inspiration and hope.
It very nearly made me cry.

I sat quietly and contemplated for a few moments before getting up to continue my run.
And I knew that this trail that had come to mean so much to me 
would never be the same. 

It would only be better...

Because I loved these little doors right away. 
I loved the feel they added to the run,
The cheery little smile they gave my heart, 
And the way they tickled my imagination.
I decided then that I would make my way back to these trails. Soon. And more often.

What I didn't know was what I would be coming back to...
(Part Two tomorrow.)

In case you're interested in more reading more, here are links to my favorite posts, both inspired by runs on this trail - "Moments",
which I reposted just last week. Apologies that blogger will not allow me a link to the original post that does not include the recent edits.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Temporary Rivers

A little more than two years ago I wrote the following post. 
And I have found it incessantly on my mind. 
For weeks. 
So tonight I decided to do something I've not done before. 
I'm not entirely sure why I can't seem to shake this one as of late. 
Maybe it is because a recent running injury kept me grounded for three solid weeks 
and I now find myself chanting, "Just. Keep. Going." with each painful mile I work to complete. 
Or maybe it is because I recently ran the trail that inspired this post and I thought of it once again. 
Maybe there is someone who needs to read it. 
Or maybe I am the one who needs reminding. 
Whatever it is, it doesn't much matter. 
But you should know that of all my posts this is my favorite. 
It is truly dear to my heart. 
Partly because of the beautiful response I graciously received as it touched others.
Mostly because it represents personal struggles that no one (no one!) knew of when I wrote it. 
And those long moments of sitting and thinking till I was chilled to the bone 
were integral to my finding my way to where I am now. 
So I hope you don't mind me sharing once again, 
"Temporary Rivers"  
Which I have come to understand are just that. 


Sometimes I run for fun. Sometimes I run for fitness. 
And sometimes, I just run. 
And I learn.
       Last week I ran. And I learned.

It started as a hard run.
The legs wouldn't move fast enough.
They wouldn't move strong enough.
They ached long before they should have.
        And they just did not want to join me on my run.

I had chosen a beautiful route...
Wide trails,
Gentle rolling hills,
Lush foliage at every turn.
        And water.

It had rained all morning making the green more vibrant, and the streams full and rushing.
And I tried hard not to think about my uncooperative legs by shifting my mind to the beauty around me.

The movement of the water,
A bridge that I love,
The bend of a tree where I hope to one day sit and read,
        That curvy little downhill that I like running most. 

Pushing my mind this way helped.
And I felt better as I rounded the last corner before the final stretch home.
Until I came across a completely unexpected obstacle.
        A flooded stream crossing.

The water was rushing, pushing debris, branches and twigs swiftly on their way.
It was murky, messy, and deeper than I wanted it to be.
        I didn't know what to do.

Behind me was the more than four miles I had already so painfully run.
Ahead of me was less than two miles home.
In between lay a small temporary river. 
And no way around it.
       A choice. With no easy answer.

So I chose to sit.

And watch.
And listen.
And think.

For a very long time.

I thought about life and how sometimes we come to places that are just like this temporary river crossing. 
Messy, uncomfortable, even a little scary.
And no way around. 
Sometimes we know what lies on the other side.
Sometimes we don't. 
But usually we know what lies from whence we came.
And we are left to choose.
        Push forward or retreat?

Others came and went, each choosing to turn around and leave the muddy water uncrossed.
I wondered what kept them, what kept me, from just pushing forward? 

Was it fear? 
        I had no answers.

But the wet pavement had long since soaked my clothing, and the gentle breeze had chilled my sweaty skin. 
I had to move. 
There was no more sitting and waiting. 
So I got up. And I ran. 

As the dirty stream water splashed up the back of my thighs I felt a gentle surge within me. 
And I learned.

I learned...
That sometimes the things that seem hard really aren't that hard at all.
But usually the things that seem messy are every bit as messy as they seem.
That sometimes there is no best answer so you just have to make up your mind.
And when there is a best answer you still just have to make up your mind.
That things don't always end up being what you expect,
But you can still feel satisfaction in what they are.

And I learned about me.
That I am stronger than I think.
And when I am not, 
        It is enough to just keep going.

I would like to end by saying that the rest of the run was easier.
Or exhilarating. 
Or empowering.
But it wasn't.
        It was just hard.

But five days later I ran the same route. 
It had rained the night before and a new temporary river had formed.
This time I did not hesitate, nor did I look back.
        I just. kept. going.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Thank You, Little Man - Brahms Edition

(Warning: This is a long post. Not so much to read, but to listen to.  
Take it a song at a sitting, if you need to. But listen. It's a happy thing.)

I have a problem. Inboxes. 
Because when I respond to, delete, or ignore emails on my iPhone 
they have a way of stacking up on my computer. To the tune of 954. 
The other day I decided that I needed to try and filter my way through them 100 at a time. 
Totally manageable, right? 

Until I got a little distracted by coming across two video links that deserved posting. 
Long ago. I really did mean to post them, but they are from May. 
Which pretty much lived right next door to outer darkness for me. 
So I'm finally posting them now.

First is Video One, taken by Little Man's piano teacher at a final rehearsal of a four-piano patriotic piece he participated in for his May recital. There are none of the "technical issues" I seem to have when videoing. 
Just focus issues. 
Because she didn't focus on my son, and my son alone. 
Instead, he is sweetly hidden behind the piano on the left. 

Follow the link below to hear Little Man and three other outstanding young male pianists practice,
 "Of Thee I Sing", by Mark Hayes. 

Video Two was taken at the first of his two recitals.
Remember the lack-of-tripod episode last piano post? (And every other piano post....)
Well, I fixed that part this time. But with a new camera came new "technical issues" as I failed to disable the auto-tracking option while he played. I won't explain this. Just know that it's annoying. You'll see.

But gladly, this is not about me. Which means it doesn't really matter, right?
What does matter is the link below for Little Man and Brahms. 

Before listening you should know that this was officially his last piano recital. 
Little Man has decided to take a break from lessons for an undetermined amount of time. 
It's been in the works. For awhile. 
And I have been in denial. For awhile. 

But when all is said and done, 
how thankful I am for all of the beautiful music that has graced the walls of my home 
because of a very special teacher.

And a talented and dedicated son.

So thank you, Little Man.
 I hope that none of us have heard the last of you and your music.

And now, Brahms. 

And please. Never mind the gentleman in plaid coming and going directly in front of the camera.
: )

Friday, July 19, 2013

Friday Photos!

My last Friday Photos post included some pics taken from the overlook at the Liberty Memorial.
If you remember, it was snowy. And very, very cold. 
Well, yesterday was into the high 90s with loads of humidity, typical of July.
So it was only fair to get a few summer shots!

I arrived early in the evening and only planned to shoot for a few minutes, and do a little thinking.
But as the evening wore on and the sun began to fall, I couldn't pull myself from the quiet and peace above the city.
So I lingered.
For hours.
I watched children play;
Enjoyed pleasant conversation with strangers.
Observed a very-in-love couple kissing...a lot (Ick);
And a very distressed (and loud) couple breaking up (Oy).
I tried to leave several times.
But with the beautiful views in every direction, each time I walked away there was something that drew me back in.
It was well after the sun went down before I ventured home.

And I'm pretty sure that if I could sit in a yoga pose and get over my fear of heights,
I could have sat on the wall and meditated All.Night.Long.
Until I fell asleep. And dropped to my death.

Here are a handful of shots from the night.


This is just your standard view. Decidedly more awesome in real life.

Tricky angles this time, and by tricky, I mean only one.
Because there is construction and only a small portion of the overlook that you can even access.

So... these are the mosaic walls. I love these walls. 
Notice the girl in the background? 
She was looking through a little keyhole in the door to the Memory Hall.
Perfect. : )

She was also there playing with her siblings and cousins. 
They were a little confused about why I would want to take pictures of the wall. 
They thought I should be taking pictures of them. 
So I did.
Totally natural posers.

And now, the Western Auto building.
For some reason I am in love with this building. 
Irrationally in love.

And the Liberty Memorial
Construction to the left.
And a pink sunset behind me that you can see bouncing off every surface. 

After this, I just sat and watched everything around me as the sun went down
and the colors changed from every angle. No pics.

And then I headed to my car. And turned around one last time to take a look. 
That's when I saw the Western Auto sign illuminating for the night.
Naturally, I went back.

I was there for another hour.


Kissing couple on the left. Fighting couple on the right.
And don't miss the man sporting the very fashionable black socks and dress shoes...
With shorts.
A summertime favorite.

And this. 

And the full view.

And slightly fuller view.

I love this city.
And I love this place.
This was my first time at the Memorial at night.

I may move there.

Happy Friday!

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