I wanted to share a Christmas poem, but the words just weren’t flowing. So, you won’t read anything fancy today, only that I’m taking a breather from blogging for the holidays and this will be my last post until I return sometime in January. As we all know, breaks are necessary so that we can recharge our minds, bodies, and spirits. But before I go, I want to thank you all for your continued support! It has beenwonderful to meet and get to know so many talented artists in this virtual community.
On that note, I wish you all a holiday filled with Peace, Joy, and Love, everything we’ve heard before but all we truly need. ❤️
Sending holiday hugs, stay safe, be well, and I’ll see you in 2022! Cheers, Lauren ❤️🎄❤️
This holiday season is different for my husband and I, a bit quieter around the house because we became empty nesters several months ago. And I admit that with Christmas just around the corner, the quiet is a bit thunderous. I remember past holidays when our son and daughter were little; we’d keep the magic going and would look forward to witnessing their wonder of the season each day up until the morning when we watched them with delight open their gifts. They knew that just the night before, Santa had come down the chimney with the hefty pack of presents on his back.
Holiday baking is a tradition that I carried into my family from memories of my sisters and I baking with Mom. She was beautiful and festive, wearing her Christmas apron as she taught us how to make sugar cookies and her German Christmas Stollen – a delicious recipe that I’ve made only once in my life but will attempt again when I have the required energy in both mind and body. The recipe is complicated, involving yeast and bread rising and everything that I know very little about, hence, the need to muster up that energy! Baking with my young children was a time when their excitement and giggles bounced off the walls as they helped make sugar cookies in different shapes: bells, boots, Christmas trees, angels, stockings, candy canes, holly leaves, and more. Licking the beaters was a must, and no one ever got sick. Their tiny little hands had so much fun with the cookie dough as if they were creating with playdough. Christmas carols played in the background adding merriment to the mix.
I must have inherited my love of dressing festively for the holidays because when our children were little, I loved painting on t-shirts and sweatshirts for family and friends. I was no artist, but my daughter and son were thrilled to wear their white “Merry Christmas” sweatshirts with candy canes and Santa’s “Ho, Ho, Ho!” The grandparents wore their Santa Claus sweatshirts with pride, and they looked cute! My husband and I still wear ours and that paint has never peeled off, even after thirty years! Having fun was the main objective!
But this past Saturday a new tradition began when just the two of us drove to our most patronized grocery store to look for a live Christmas tree. He’s an Arborist and an avid tree hugger, so as long as the prepping of the tree – fitting it onto the stand and keeping it watered – doesn’t become physically challenging, a living tree will be our preference. For the first time, we brought home a beautiful Grand Fir. My husband prepped the tree outside, trimming the bottom branches, making sure the flush cut was level with the base of the tree, then drilling holes around the center hole to allow water to be soaked up. Inside the house, I rearranged furniture, vacuumed, and pulled the red festive tree skirt from the closet, prepping the perfect spot by the large window in the living room. When the tree was set up, I poured sugar water into the base and waited a half hour to ensure no water was seeping through.
Tony Bennett sang Christmas carols in the background while we strung the lights around the fragrant tree. As we picked up each ornament, precious memories flooded our minds. Most ornaments were handmade by our children as they were growing up, and many have photos of them from kindergarten, first, and second grades. Oh, the memories! Now our beautiful Grand Fir stands tall by the window adorned in red, green, and white lights, adding magic to the room. The tree topper is our very own precious angel that our daughter made when she was a little girl. She used a toilet paper roll. Hilarious, but clever, and so special that this angel will never be replaced.
I realized early that day, I didn’t feel the same excitement to put up the tree as I’ve felt in years past. But we had a great time, perusing the trees on the lot, then getting both tree and house ready. Feeling reminiscent of those years when our children were little invoked gratitude for the blessed Christmases we’ve had when we all lived together, or at least, when one child was home while the other was away at university. So, even though we missed the presence of our adult kids during this tradition, I’m grateful for my husband to share another holiday season with. Perspective is key: this is the next chapter for each of us, and it’s all good. Most importantly, we are healthy and safe.
Everyone has their own struggles and sorrow from various life events; some are just a matter of going along with the progression of natural changes like becoming empty nesters, and some events are so tragic that joy drifts far, far away. Hopefully, though, joy can be found wherever our hearts and minds may be this holiday season, even if only in tiny, fragile fragments.
And speaking of memories, if you’re looking for a holiday gift for family or friends, my memoir, More than Coffee: Memories in Verse and Prose, is available on Amazon:
“More than Coffee is a heartwarming collection of memories and anecdotes in which the author reflects on her early life, her marriage, her love for family and friends, and her appreciation for the great outdoors. In poetry and prose she writes poignantly (and often humorously) of love, loss, sadness and joy, and I found myself relating to each section. The overall feeling I had after reading More than Coffee was one of optimism and upliftment. A wonderful book!“
I believe there is some meaningful discovery for each reader, or at least, this is my wish.
Sending you all hugs of joy during this holiday season. Lauren ❤️🎄
Look to the galaxy, My Love. The blue luminous star I desire to be yours. If the universe would share, I’d pull the shimmering beauty from the constellations and place it in the palm of your hands next to my beating heart. I wish we could sit upon a slow-moving cloud, dangling our legs into freedom. Our eyes would show the emotion in our hearts. Lips would touch, tenderly, then with hunger reeling through our veins like magnetic energy. We’d fall into pleasant intoxication, watching moonbeams pierce our private night sky.
Resa at Graffiti Lux Art & More surprised me with this elegant and gracious review of my book, More than Coffee. I am so happy she enjoyed my book to a level that would spark such a beautiful reaction. Another reason for me to be grateful!
For those of you who don’t know Resa, she is a photographer who features stunning Street Art of other cities around the globe through travels and guest contributors. Taking these photos is a passion of hers that brings immense joy. Each work of graffiti art or mural evokes thoughts in her, and these thoughts are reflected in the titles of her blog posts. I encourage you to pay her a visit! Thanks again, Resa! xo
As a person who enjoys poetry and coffee, the decision to read Lauren’s well written book was a no-brainer. As a matter of fact, I languished over every poem and bit of prose. For 33 mornings, I read one piece with my coffee.
Each day’s reading brought me warm thoughts, stirred feelings and created a desire to be creative. What a great and positive way to start the day.
In this intimate look at her and her family, nature plays a huge part in stirring memories of irreplaceable experiences, both uplifting and occasionally heartbreaking. All emotions are expressed beautifully in positive light.
I couldn’t resist picking my favourite poem.
This poem is an experience I share with Lauren. She could have been writing about me and my mom. I am deeply moved.
There is no copy and paste from the ebook. I wrote this out, and proofed it many times…
Copper feels grateful for his new bed. He has three now spread throughout the house. So, as Thanksgiving Day inches closer, what are you grateful for? And don’t we all agree that showing gratitude isn’t just for this one day of the year; it’s for all year round. Let’s face it, watching the news gets depressing. The pandemic is still with us, people have lost their lives to this virus, fires raged in the summer, taking with them human lives and homes. Hurricanes landed causing devastation beyond our imagination. I feel like every day the news reporter tells us about another fatal shooting. Lives have been upended in the most horrific ways, and I’ve only scratched the surface. Still, if we dig deep enough, we can always find something to be grateful for.
Besides my family and Copper, I am grateful for the rain we’ve had, definite cause for a happy dance! We’re still heading into our 3rd drought year, but everything is green right now. Even the weeds are green for which I am grateful! We pray for more rainfall this winter so we can hear Mother Earth sigh once again.
I love the quiet early mornings when Copper and I go for our walks. We get to watch the sunrise and listen to the silence. The air is cool and crisp and wonderful!
I miss the long, light evenings from the summer, but hubby and I break out the candles for the long, dark nights. The coziness wraps us up in its warmth. It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway. It’s heartbreaking to see so many people living on the street or in their campers and vans. Having a roof over our head is not something to take lightly.
During this season, I love the smells of sweet and spicy, the baking of pumpkin bread, pumpkin pies, and pumpkin cookies. Hello, Pumpkin! And who doesn’t love the wardrobe changing of the leaves on the trees? Those rich, warm reds, golds, and yellows. I’m thankful for my bookcase that is bursting at the seams. So many books make me happy! I don’t know what I’d do if paperbacks and hardcovers became obsolete. I love the feel of the pages and the smooth covers.
Earlier this year, I did a post about Gratitude and the list I shared had a beginning, but it didn’t have an ending. Isn’t that something to be thankful for?! I’m writing this on the fly without any intense editing, so please forgive any errors. Lastly, thank you for your continued support and friendship in this world of blogging. And a Big Thank You to those of you who have bought my book, More than Coffee, and to those who have written fabulous reviews.
My family, Copper, and I wish you all a very warm and loving Thanksgiving! ~Lauren 🧡🍁🍂🧡
I remember yesterday when I stepped outside, strolling down the undisturbed road with my dog on my left, his gait as graceful as a galloping horse in slow motion. Maybe the squirrels raised their sleepy heads because of the early hour. The sky appeared to be coal black, but when I turned the corner, watermelon pinks, corals, and lemon yellows took center stage. My camera did not deliver. Then I thought of my son who often says, “Enjoy the moment.” I slipped that device back in my pocket. Passing the orange poppies, I imagined their stems fluttered with excitement, eager for the sun’s ascent, and in the distance, silence sang its serene ballad. As the tempo of our pace sped up, a breeze joined us, and the leaves on the trees lining the lane swayed in rhythm as though dancing a waltz. Jowls flapped, he smiled with brown nose set in overdrive. The sun’s gentle touch added a glimmer to his copper coat. There was a moment when I paused, bending down to his level, fingers stroking shiny, silky fur, his eyes closed, contented from contact. When we moved again, his nails on the asphalt mimicked the clicking of castanets, and in that second, I realized these observations on this early morning are what life is all about… the seeing…touching…smelling…listening… the being.
Today, I am delighted to introduce poet and blogger, Lauren Scott. I met Lauren recently through another blogging friend and I am delighted by her beautiful poetry and posts about hiking adventures with her husband.
Take it away, Lauren.
Which of your own poems is your favorite?
I narrowed it down to two favorites: “Simple Existence” and “To My Babies.”
It was close to 7:30 am when she walked into his room, sitting down in front of him. She looked into his eyes with a combination of love and resolution, as if to say, “Don’t you know, too?” He looked at his adorable black lab and shook his head, thinking, this is a little odd. But the obligation of school called, so he patted her soft head, saying, “Love you, Girl, see you later!” And he finished tying his shoes before walking out the door, heading for the high school.
The rest of us also left for the day’s routine: work and school. Just the ordinary; it was to be an ordinary kind of day. She was curled up and content on her soft bed in the backyard where she liked to keep an eye on any trespassing critters.
But shortly after we all left, she cried out. Our good neighbor next door heard her high-pitched cries, so he called us on our cell phones, then he stayed with her. One significant glitch was that all our cell phones were turned off, which had never happened before, and which proved to be the conundrum on this tearful day. So, over an hour passed before I even listened to the urgent message; during this time, our neighbor waited patiently with Lucky Girl breathing her last breaths. The guilt from this unintentional blunder stayed with us for a very long time; we felt sick inside imagining that she was lying there waiting for one of us to come home to tell her that everything was going to be okay.
He got down to her level, parking himself on the cool November concrete, her head resting on his leg. He was not a dog person, but he was a dog person on this day, petting her with compassion. It was ironic that she had had an aversion to him for some unknown reason. But that morning, any dislike she had for this man faded into the uncertainty of what was happening.
I pulled into the driveway, eyes wet and puffy from the phone message, and this was only the beginning. Walking through the side gate, I spotted our neighbor sitting on the walkway, his back up against the house, legs stretched out with Lucky Girl lying beside him. She was barely there, though – her eyes revealing acceptance and sadness. I think she knew more than we did at that moment.
He helped me lift her, gently laying her in the back of the car so she could lie on her side with plenty of room. As much as I wanted her in the front seat where I could see her, I knew she wouldn’t be comfortable. It wasn’t until I pulled out of the driveway that I realized the inevitable was drawing closer. She was eleven years old, but until today, she still seemed so full of life.
With tearful eyes, I drove, feeling grateful the freeway wasn’t a necessary route. Half-way to the vet, I knew. My heart felt the crossing. I pulled over to the side, got out of the car, and walked to the back, lifting the car door. I saw that my Lucky Girl had crossed over the Rainbow Bridge. I sobbed again, knowing more tears would follow.
I kissed her on her nose then managed to get back into the driver’s seat, continuing for another ten minutes to the vet. When I arrived, frantically entering the building, I shared my devastating news with the girl at the counter who acted amazingly aloof for my untamed emotions. But two vet techs wearing light blue medical jackets carried Lucky Girl from the car into a private room. I asked for a few moments alone with my girl. There she was lying on the silver table, where I’m sure many furry family members have done the same. I bent over, laying my head on her soft black fur, gently petting her, and whispering on behalf of her family, “We love you, Lucky Girl.” More tears slid down my face as I was unable to comprehend that this was it…
No more walks together, no more cuddles on the bed, no more tossing of the ball, watching her chase that silly round toy with the excitement of a toddler. No more playing tug-o-war with her favorite rope toy, entertained by her incredible strength and admirable effort. No more watching TV with her lying at our feet as though she’s enjoying the show as much as we are.
When we were all home later that day – the news weighing heavy on our hearts and minds – we huddled in a strong embrace, emotions running wild. This unforgettable chapter was part of life, part of owning a pet, allowing their unconditional love to wrap around our hearts. But this chapter was also about learning how to say good-bye.
The strange thing was Lucky Girl had never indicated that something was off kilter…except, perhaps, when she walked into his room that morning. She looked at him with knowledge we couldn’t possibly have been privy to. Even though her behavior was unusual, she was quiet, not crying or whining, so it didn’t propel us into worrying.
Hindsight is twenty-twenty. If we only would have known. It just happened so fast.
Remembering Lucky Girl who received her angel wings on November 11, 2011. ❤️
Sometimes, we hold plans with such great importance that when they become derailed, our mindsets are not as toughas we assume, no, not as tough as spider silk – they spiral into grottos of gloom where we keep company with a suitcase of insecurity.
Indulging in comfort that doesn’t judge or bicker occurs effortlessly. The smell of sorrow is overwhelming.
But despite the absence of light, the sunrise slowly unfolds, brushstrokes of vivid oranges illuminate the sky like a painter brightens a new canvas, and the experience feels feather-light as though a burden is lifted.
Our fascination is stirred once again by a hummingbird’s ability to fly forward and backwards, sideways, and even upside down. We hear the sparrows singing their tales, and bees buzzing in jubilation.
Sensing the spiritual presence of hope, we exhale with relief, and we are optimistic for an extended stay.