Cooling it in the Garden


Since October we have been unnerved by noise at our Florida condo. The teeth jarring noise of jack hammers taking up tile and reciprocating saws going through steel beams. Wood saws vibrating onto our cement ceiling, going down the walls, across the floor, and up our bodies. Wooden mallets hitting the edges of wooden floor planks at just the right velocity to reach our temples. Owners around us are just finishing up renovating their condos and now the association has contracted to have railings fixed. Railings that are medal and embedded in cement. More nerve jangling jackhammers.

My Tuesday morning photography walks at the Naples Botanical Garden have been my sanctuary from the assault on my senses. Fibromyalgia, in part, involves a malfunctioning of the nerves that carry pain signals to the brain. Too many get through the spinal column and then the brain amplifies the signals. My nerves are fried so I seemed to focus on the simple as I walked around. I tried to limit the amount of stimulation I studied through my lens.

I focused on simple pleasures…


and strolled down paths that are familiar.


I was drawn to nature’s groupings that emitted a sense of peace…


and lingered near the plants that touched my whimsy.


Prairie Dogs Searching

And as I strolled I found some surprises to distract my focus on my frustrations.


Sometimes life is just plain hard and I’m so fortunate to have a beautiful place to escape to, a place where nature has been nurtured to be its most beautiful. During this season of assault by noise, I found healing by sitting on benches while my senses took in the beauty of my surroundings. Yes, nature does have the capacity to heal.


This post was submitted to Lens-Artist Photo Challenge #33: Nature.



It took me a while to head to the spot in the Naples Botanical Garden where one of the sculptures I had missed on my last visit is located. I got distracted at the lily pond, and my head had to concentrate on saying don’t turn right towards the Caribbean Garden, don’t turn left towards the Asian Garden, keep moving… I was so intent on getting there that I walked right past the Blue Calla Flare. It was only when I stopped and turned around in the Succulent Garden that I saw it.

_DSC0051 I spent some time trying to capture the artistic beauty and technical artistry of this glass sculpture by Hans Godo Frabel on display this season but I don’t think my heart was in it.

I was much more interested in the plants in the Succulent Garden, even though this area still needs some cleaning for the upcoming tourist season. These plants seem to reflect the prickly aspects of my personality of late, and the fact that my darker side wants to push through.


As our country is getting close to our midterm elections, when we are voting for representatives for national and state legislatures, governors, state policy issues, etc. but not for president, the Republicans, especially the president and his followers, are nervous that they may lose some important races. To get out their followers, they are increasing their lying about supporting the Affordable Care Act, even as they are working to dismantle it, and they are ramping up the fear mongering lies about the hordes of immigrants heading for our Southern border infiltrated by Muslims and murdering gangs, bankrolled by Jews, carrying Small Pox and leprosy into our country. I am fed up, I have had it, and I don’t know how to respond except to vote – which I’ve already done. Now all I can do is wait in hopeful anticipation and dread until the election results are in.

I don’t remember ever hating anyone more than I hate our current president. And I don’t like what this hatred is doing to me. I want to attack everyone I know who voted for him, and even those who may have voted for him because of their party affiliation. This isn’t fair and goes against everything I believe in, but it is so hard to do what is right and good right now. I want to be kind and caring towards everyone, but I feel the darkness right there at the back of my brain cutting off those brain parts that regulate the flow of love from my heart. And my soul is constipated.

I want to curl myself up in a community of safety and loving. I want to become fetal, cover my head from attacks.


And I want to feel the joy of reaching out, of giving.


Remember to breath in deeply and turn off the TV, Pat. As I teacher of interviewing skills for future social workers, I would explain the importance of focus. I would help them think about how to make sure the focus of interactions was on the person needing the help, not on the helper. We would discuss how to gently shift the focus between topics of importance. If I am going to find peace and joy in the coming week I have to give up my focus on the evil that is going on in national politics and focus on my small circle of influence. I need to focus on caring and finishing my quilt top for donating to flood victims and knitting the sweaters for my two great grandchildren. I need to put a smile on my face and face the world with strength.

And I need to make some fun – starting with an outing with my honey to visit some of the local consignment shops. Let me tell you of the great deals that can be found in thrift and consignment shops in Naples, FL.

Spring Wildflowers


Toadshade (trillium sessile) 

We weren’t able to go out on our weekly photo shoot this week, but I still have a few post’s worth of images left from last week. A couple of weeks ago I included this photo and wondered what flower it is – still in bud form. Last week it was opening up and I still can’t identify it – maybe one of you knows. Edit: Arwyn Yarwood helped me identify this.


A very handsome specimen for a woodland garden, and I suppose it will be gone by the time we get out when the weather clears late next week.

When Julie called to say she had a bad night and couldn’t make it out, I thought of it as some free time to work on the quilt I’m making and rest a bit after having my grandson and family for the better part of 7 days. Now I am missing it, feeling the loss of the quiet engrossment I experience as I and my camera communicate with nature. I also missed the time spent with Julie as we have a very comfortable routine of being in our own space then joining back together to share the wonder we are experiencing. We have both mentioned how it is a time of rejuvenation.

What a wondrous tool our memory is, even though we all have memories of rough times. With mental health therapy I found I could disarm the traumatic memories, I have learned to not dwell on memories of people who have been toxic in my life, and to fill my brain with memories of family, friends, and experiences that are healing. I smile as I think about the joy I experienced on our last trip to Hidden Lake Garden. I am experiencing being there as I choose the images that best express the wonder I was experiencing while composing my photographs.

The daffodils were blooming their little hearts out. This is one of my favorite ones that grow wild in the woods. It is so small and delicate, but packs a punch when viewed up close. It seems to have so much energy in such a small package.

But it is hard to have favorites when there are so many other beauties that bring joy to our hearts, especially for those who endured the long hard winter.


What fun it was to find the small wildflower blossoms that are overlooked as we scanned the beauty of the emerging life in the hosta garden and the woodland floor.

As the beauty of our last outing continues to sooth and heal my soul, bringing a sense of joy and well-being, I am looking forward to new wonders of future outings.

A Need for Place


We had a difficult week. We did a quick trip to Texas to help our 50 year old, very accomplished and independent baby girl who was scheduled for surgery last Friday. It was a fast-growing lump on her thyroid that might be cancer. All is well with her, but we are feeling the aftermath of the stress when someone we love develops a serious health issue.

During this time we had a couple of really early mornings, over-the-top stressful problems with our airline tickets, and it was really hot and humid in southern Texas. All of these impact my body and mind because of fibromyalgia. I have learned how to take care of myself, but sometimes life is hard and I can’t seem to do enough to counter the stress. I told my children, as they were growing up, that life isn’t fair. It isn’t. It’s hard.


Michael Watson wrote a post this past week called The Power of Place. Michael’s identity has been shaped by his dual presence in Native and Anglo culture. This post was in response to the Native American gathering in North Dakota to protect their sacred places from destruction by the building of the oil pipeline. Michael helps us understand the different world views that are clashing as Natives and capitalists come face to face. I always appreciate how much I learn from Michael’s posts because the Native world view is so different. What struck me most in Michael’s words was this:

I was raised to understand that places have the capacity to heal us. They may also hold us, offering safety and comfort, and, as Don Juan famously said, power.

20150816-dsc_0110I think JB and I are looking for comfort, healing and safety in place. As we were returning home we both made the decision that we need to spend a few days in familiar places in northern Michigan before we head to Florida. I have been culling photo files and find that I stop to study those photos of places that have a special feel. All of them places where I felt the power of life flow through me. Places where I feel the presence of God.


The places that we are seeking right now are not grand scenes, like World Heritage Sights or the U.S. National Parks. We seek them out, are moved by their majesty, and they enrich our lives. But these are not what I need right now. I need places that are simple and pure, that sooth and calm, that heal. These are places that allow me to be with myself while being aware of where I am. These are the places in nature where I am at home within myself.


I was a healer in a part of my working life and I respect our ability to heal in body, spirit, and mind. I have experienced this powerful healing within the bonds of human relationship and have been a part of helping others heal. What Michael helped me realize is how much I need nature for healing and growth. To use a popular phrase in sociology and psychology, I need both nurture and nature. I hope we have enough time to heal our planet so my new great-granddaughter will be able to find her places of healing.

Linked to The Daily Post: Recharge.

An International Flag of Hope

garden mist 093

My heart aches, my eyes sting with tears, because of the constant stream of violence I ingest from the daily news. I want to blame the 24/7 stream of news that presses and impels journalists to find the sensational and to overload us with more bad news than we need. Sometimes I decide to close my eyes so I see no evil, cover my ears so I hear no evil, and forbid you to speak of this evil. I don’t want to know.

It is magical thinking; if I don’t listen and watch it will stop happening. Then I feel guilty because I don’t want to see and hear your pain, to know that you are being beat up, shot up, raped and reviled, displaced, dismembered, deprived of family, home, food, safety. How can you stand it, God? Does your heart ache and eyes sting with tears?

I feel helpless. If I could be the-now-older-and-wiser me but in a young body I would become a photojournalist. I would document your pain, you who are like me and violated. I know how to help people with emotional healing but what you need is much more than I can give. You need the self-righteous bullies of the world to stop the beatings and the shooting, the emotional and physical raping. You need the bullies to stop denying you the resources to build your homes and nurture your families. You need the bullies to stop taking away your freedom to create family that is supportive and loving. You need the bullies to stop disrupting the political stability so you can nourish yourself and your family with food and books and music.

I offer this image of a symbolic flag of hope. It is my prayer that all, including the bullies, can realize that we are connected together so that what happens to one of us happens to all. When you are hurting, I hurt. That is the way it has to be. When you flourish, I can also flourish. That is the way it should be. We need to be united, reach out and hold hands, create a web of peace so we can shine in our shared community. Can we learn to live together without destroying each other and the planet? Can we put aside our self-interest and greed to take care of all? Can we work for the greater good instead of our own gain?

 I don’t know how to make it happen, but I will offer you the blessing of seeing your plight and your tears, hearing your screams of pain and anger and fear, and using my words and photographs to touch your hearts. May all of us, including the bullies, find charity and healing within.