The Landscape of Aging

parkway 300 003-2If you look at a few of my posts, you might be able to learn who I am – at least pretty close. I don’t have any hard evidence but I believe what catches our eye, what we find interesting, reflects our inner landscape. If I shared what my inner landscape looks like right now, you would think I was an adolescent trying to figure out who I am. My inner dialog has been asking questions like; who am I? and, how do people see me?parkway 300 098-2

I am sometimes very outspoken, standing out strong, being different than the people around me. I have always had strong convictions. As I have gotten older my convictions haven’t weakened but I have become aware of the the complexity of truth. I’m finding it is much more difficult to express what I believe because I have grown to know that beliefs about our worlds need to be supported with truths – whole truths. I still want to stand out, but I don’t want to become just another talking head – yelling over the other talking heads expressing opinions as if they were facts.

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Other times I recognize how much I blend in with the crowd, and I like it. It’s not because I want to be like everyone else, but it is a recognition of the diversity of personalities. I enjoy how the random combination of genes created us to be very different but also how we share similar core feelings and experiences. I have grown to appreciate and be comfortable in my relationships with people as I have become more confident in being the person I was created to be. Parkway 100 062-2

One of the characteristics of getting old is that we become more of who we have always been and most people become more complex. Because I have been open to new experiences, I continue to develop new aspects of my personality.

If I were to pick a food that best reflects my personality it would be a well-made vegetable soup. Like all the flavors blending together in the soup, I have developed a rich blend of characteristics. I’m complex, but with nothing hidden. When we lean over that pot of soup we smell the complex aromas but when we give it a stir we understand the nature of the broth; we see all the ingredients. How fun it is to experience how different combinations of ingredients creates unique tastes. It is a simple dish, and with simple variations it has nourished people since fire was harnessed for cooking.

I like being both simple and complex. I like being a unique individual but also enjoy being part of something bigger. I like being who I am but am excited when I feel change happening. The change I am experiencing now seems to be finding a new voice born of wisdom. Would you like to join me around the table for a bowl of soup and stimulating conversation? I’m confident we will all be nurtured.

(My thoughts today were stimulated by these photographs I took on our travels down the Blue Ridge Parkway in Fall 2014.)

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Walk with me Towards Simple Pleasures

Tuesday mornings I go to the Naples Botanical Garden when it opens at 8:00, an hour early for members and people walking dogs. Today the skies are very grey and there is a chance of rain so I stayed home. I must miss this part of my winter routine because I have been thinking of the simple pleasures I experienced on my first two visits this year.

When the garden opened this fall, there was a new entrance, meeting room, an enlarged gift shop, and a restaurant. Last year I watched the buildings going up; I heard the noise behind the fences I walked past on my way to my favorite spot of the day. I had tried to envision what it would look like when it was finished. I felt like a child waiting for Christmas as I imagined what the new orchid garden would be like.

botanital gardens 027-2How exciting it is to see orchids hanging from trees – bright in color, subtle shades, some bold, some delicate. And the thrill of finding one in a pot almost hidden at a eye-level for all the little magical beings that tend the garden during the night. I bet they gather in the pouch for a nectar break.

botanical gardens 035-2The orchid garden is tucked between two buildings – a new place to explore. When I started to move towards my favorite parts of the garden, expecting to experience the pleasant calm that comes from the familiar, I became disoriented. They had designed and planted the new so it flows seamlessly into the old – but not the old garden as I knew it. I had moments when I felt lost, not knowing how to get from here to there even though I had walked it many times. Funny how changes in one part of our world, and our life, can shake up all other parts.

As I moved through the parts of the garden that were unchanged, I would stop and smile at the familiar. This river of grass gives an open view to the brackish marshes and open water that makes southern Florida such a unique habitat for a wide variety of creatures. The Naples Botanical Garden has built replicas of tropical gardens from around the world, but this part of the garden replicates the natural environment of the Everglades that covers most of southern Florida.

River of Grass

Looking Towards the River of Grass

I frequently visit this area looking for the large wading birds but they haven’t arrived yet. I hope they haven’t been grounded in Ohio because of the nasty ice and snow passing through. Two duck having breakfast together gave me an excuse to sit and pause.

botanical gardens 041-2Sometimes I find that my goal of seeing the world and capturing the perfect image keeps me from finding pleasure in the whole of my experience. Sometimes I need to close my eyes so I can better feel the air and sun against my skin, to open my ears to the sounds of the birds. A deep breath centers me.

I continue to move through the gardens, within the old and familiar. But disorientation creeps in making me believe they have put in new walkways; even the old cracks in the cement can’t seem to make the way feel familiar. How strange to balance this excitement for new with my need for the comfort of familiar. I know that I will adjust to this new garden perspective but to escape the discomfort of change I embrace the excitement of the new. I head for the restaurant.

botanital gardens 074-2The Organic African Nectar tea is the best tea I have ever drank, and is a perfect compliment for a cranberry scone. It is early in the season so I am about the only person there which gives me ample opportunity to gaze at how beautifully the architect and gardeners blended the new with the old.

botanital gardens 078-2 Maybe this is a lesson for me as I face the disorientation of new changes that come with aging and passing time, while finding comfort in the familiarity of the world I know. Yes, I can walk this path if I keep my eye on the simple pleasures. Thanks for walking with me.