A Dragonfly Life

Magic is seeing wonder in nature’s every little thing. Seeing how wonderful the fireflies are, and how magical are the dragonflies.
~ Ama H. Vanniarachchy

Always been fascinated by dragonflies. While I love to see butterflies and hummers, my whole attitude shifts at the site of one dragonfly. So, you can imagine the thrill when I happened upon this little darling the other day.

I do love to watch my hummers, but quickly discovered they are mean little @#$%s, and extremely territorial. That said, I still love having them around and one can learn a lot by looking at their life. And a butterfly’s ability to ride the breeze always offer a sense of calm with their slow-motion flights.

But dragonflies……they are the true ballet dancers of the insect realm. Graceful and poised, the dragonfly seems to glide…but with purpose. It personifies the theory of working smarter instead of harder as it moves at about 20-30mph, flies in every direction and can hover with the best hummer….all while only flapping those iridescent wings at about 30 times per minute.

The dragonfly is born in the water and lives up to four years there as a nymph, where its sole purpose in life is to eat. When it emerges from the water, sheds its skin for the last time, it transforms into an adult…but only for a fraction of time…not living more than a few months. During that time, its focus is unwavering. A voracious predator, the dragonfly should be welcome in any garden as a deterrent for mosquitoes and other bothersome insects. And, it accomplishes its objectives with the utmost simplicity and efficiency.

But here’s the real reason I love dragonflies.

With their very short adult life spans, they exemplify the art of living life to the fullest. By living in the moment we become aware of what is important and what is not. The adult dragonfly is acutely aware of its purpose and makes the most of every second of life. Something we humans have lost sight of over the centuries. How often do the unimportant things of life crowed out our sense of purpose? How often are we derailed by events and activities that only serve to distract us from what we were really created to accomplish in life?

The way a dragonfly travels through life is an inspiration. Every aspect of this tiny insect portrays the ability to move and change at a moment’s notice….in whatever direction is needed. A dragonfly rotates its four wings independently to adapt quickly to needed changes in direction. Changes in perspectives and how we respond to life is just one of the lessons that can be learned from a dragonfly. When life throws those curve balls and plot twists, do we roll with it and adapt, or are we resistant to the point of destroying our emotional and spiritual well being?

Finally, a dragonfly’s eyes are designed to view life with nearly 360 degree vision, using about 80% of its brain to process all that it sees. A dragonfly can multi-task and calculate three things when it’s on the offensive: the distance of its prey, the direction it’s moving, and the speed it’s flying. In the blink of an eye (maybe faster), the dragonfly calculates exactly where it needs to be in order to intercept its meal in mid-air.  Did you get that? It doesn’t pursue…it intercepts. And, it has a 95% success rate. I’m not sure how we can intercept the aspirations we have in life, but intercepting those dreams sounds a lot better than merely chasing them.

A dragonfly can see a wider spectrum of colors than our human eye. Not only can it see the normal color spectrum, a dragonfly can also see UV light and has the ability to see the same way we see sun and water glare with polarized sunglasses. How cool would that be to have the ability to see virtually everything that’s coming from almost any direction and any situation, AND process it almost instantaneously.  That would definitely be a super power that would really come in handy.

The dragonfly is mainly viewed in different cultures as a symbol of change and self realization. The dragonfly elegantly controls its movements and choreographs those movements whether over water, on land or in the air, depending on its situation and environment. We should all be so flexible and intuitive in how we navigate through life…being able to change life direction in an instant. As a species that has been on the earth about 300 million years, this prehistoric-looking insect’s testament to being able to adapt and survive is unparalleled, despite the fact that many dragonflies are intercepted by predators such as bird, frogs, toads etc.

Depending on the culture, dragonfly symbolism include: power, agility, happiness, speed, and purity. A recurring theme is the dragonfly encourages us to gracefully dance in the light on iridescent wings, and embrace the on-going transformation and renewal of life.

It’s no wonder they are beloved in almost every culture.

Advertisements

Hello Autumnal Equinox

Today, or thereabouts, marks the moment when the sun crosses the equator, heading south to warmer climates. The Autumn equinox in the northern hemisphere is when we dig out those sweaters and boots, fill our cups with cider and say a hello to cooler days. The sun rises a bit later and dusk comes a bit sooner.

Today we have approximately the same amount of daylight as moonlight…12 hours. Butterflies, hummers and some songbirds are trekking southward to escape winter’s wrath. Everything around us is ending its growth cycle, preparing for that long winter’s rest.

We use today’s equinox to celebrate the arrival of Autumn, but it’s really just a moment in time. Pagen cultures have their rituals while most of us simply use the equinox as an excuse to put pumpkin spice on everything.

Today ushers in the season of melancholy….a time for reflection. The weather is changing, and today is a respite for what we know is coming. As we turn inward to hearth and home, we may feel change in our personal lives as well. What is it about Autumn that stirs our souls to reflect on life and purpose? Maybe it’s that we’re so excited to see spring after a long winter, and summer is a time to revel in the glory of green. Winter is a time to hunker down, outwit and outlast Jack Frost. So, I suppose autumn is the only time we have to focus inward on ourselves.

Happy Fall, Ya’ll!

A little glimpse of Joy

April hath put a spirit of youth in everything.
~William Shakespeare

I think I came across my first Joy encounter last week. Of course, there’s been some moments of happiness, but like we discussed earlier this year, Happy is not necessarily the same feeling as Joy.

This Joy encounter came from an unexpected source….the cancer radiation treatment center. Yes, you heard correctly.

Entrepreneur was scheduled for three radiation treatments last week. We drove to the hospital entrance for radiation patients with more than a little anxiety building about how these procedures could end up. Radiating the brain….the stuff of which anxiety is made.

It was a dreary, chilly, spring day with on and off rain showers. Much like our frame of mind. But as we drove into the private parking area for radiation patients, this is what greeted us.

A sea of yellow daffodils planted between the reserved parking spaces and entrance.

I felt my heart lift as soon as I saw them. Of course, they didn’t negate the harsh reality of what was about to happen inside, but for a brief moment, I was caught up in the beauty of the moment. I thought of all the hours it must have taken to plant these bulbs last Autumn. I thought what a wonderful gift to those experiencing the challenging darkness of cancer.

And, I noticed some of these splendid blossoms had been mercilessly beat down onto the ground, unable to hold up against the spring storms. What a shame, I thought. So, I rescued them to live in vases in my home. There is some poetic justice in this, right? 🙂

Joy. It can surprise us in the strangest of places.

For happiness one needs security, but joy can spring like a flower even from the cliffs of despair.
~Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Renew and Replace

The flower that wilted last year is gone. Petals once fallen are fallen forever. Flowers do not return in the spring, rather they are replaced. It is in this difference between returned and replaced that the price of renewal is paid.

And as it is for spring flowers, so it is for us.
~Daniel Abraham, The Price of Spring

Yesterday was the “first day of spring” although here is felt more like mid summer with temps in the mid 80sF! And, last week we had a hard freeze. So it is with spring in middle Missouri. I thought this was an interesting quote and am still processing its meaning.

My thoughts are still pretty much a jumble in my head these days and I’ve not been successful in penning anything worthwhile. But, with yesterday’s teaser, I’m ready for warmer weather. Although winter was not a harsh one, it came with its own set of challenges.

As I look ahead to warmer…and hopefully, better days…..I’ll leave you with some of the hopeful signs I found around the yard and vow to come back soon with something of more substance.

Asiatic lilies

Iris

Houttuynia (Hoot-en-ia) Caution: this plant is awesome, will grow anywhere, and is invasive. Plant at your own risk.

Comfrey

 And my favorite:

Happy spring!

One Word for 2017

This ended up being a long post, so grab a cuppa and get comfy. I hope to see you all at the end.

Back in 2015 I started choosing One Word for the new year instead of those pesky resolutions that are always broken before the snow thaws in the spring. In 2015 Entrepreneur was facing a cancer diagnosis and my One Word was Fearless (fear less). I believe it helped me focus during that time and continues to be a reminder today.

In 2016, my One Word was Present. I wanted to focus on trying to be more engaged in life, physically, instead of living vicariously through today’s social-media-technology-addicted world. Did I succeed? Overall, I’d say I had mixed results. I did really make an effort to not be obsessed with my phone at the expense of enjoying the moment. Some days were very successful…some were colossal FAILS. But it did make me realize just how easy it is to get sucked into living a virtual life instead of a real one. Last year helped me try and find a balance and use social media more sparingly. Plus, taking care of grandchildren doesn’t lend itself to distractions! In fact, I found myself so present in their well being, work and teaching that a lot of other things took a back seat….like blogging. Which also explains why this post is more than two weeks late.

This year, my One Word is Joy.

I’ve become painfully aware that, while I enjoy a lot of activities and have had many happy moments, a deep feeling of Joy is something that has been elusive the past few years.

Most people would define Joy as feeling extremely happy or something that gives great pleasure. But I think I disagree. Happiness and pleasure are temporary…and most of the time they’re dependent on external influences. Once the source of the happiness is gone, then what? I tend to go in search of the next happy or pleasurable moment. So my life becomes a string of happy/pleasurable experiences…or not.

No, I think Joy is something completely different. To quote CS Lewis,

Joy, must be sharply distinguished both from Happiness and Pleasure. Joy has indeed one characteristic, and one only, in common with them; the fact that anyone who has experienced it will want it again…I doubt whether anyone who has tasted it would ever, if both were in his power, exchange it for all the pleasures in the world.  But Joy is never in our power and pleasure often is.

And, oh baby, is it ever hard to find Joy in the world today. That is, if Joy is defined as something tangible and measurable. And, who doesn’t equate Joy with the feeling of satisfaction and happiness when our world is all good? But, what happens when our world falls apart? What happens when we suffer bitter disappointment, unbearable loss or extreme suffering? But, let’s not be so fatalistic. What about the days when those technology devices we are addicted to don’t work seamlessly? What about when the basement floods or the (pick an appliance) breaks? What about when, after picking up after a toddler, we turn around to feel like a tornado went through the house right behind us? What about the never-ending stress of worrying about your children’s welfare? We certainly are not happy campers during those times. How is it possible to still feel Joy when it seems as though Life’s purpose is to exhaust us into submission?

I suppose it depends on your worldview. Happy and pleasurable moments come and go. If I base my mental well-being on only the things that go right in my world I’m probably not going to be very enjoyable to be around much of the time.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.
~James 1:2-3

So easy to say, so hard to live. Many times I wish God would not test my faith so much.

If I base Joy on having a worry-free, prosperity-filled life….well, let’s just say I’m setting myself up for an epic FAIL. No, I believe Joy is something felt deep in the soul. Something apart from the temporary warm fuzzies of pleasure and happiness. It’s something intangible that grounds the mind, despite the circumstance. Joy settles deep in the heart and soul, creating peace and a strength that makes a person feel they can endure the worst life will throw.

My goal this year is to be more aware of when Joy speaks to me; to pay more attention to my inner voice so I’m not distracted by the temporary elation of pleasure and happy moments when everything is going my way; to be able to feel calm amidst the irritations, inconveniences and injustices of this life.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
~Romans 15:13

And just to begin this journey with a positive attitude, here’s a photo of a recent instance where Joy made an appearance.

meridia-sunset
You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
~Psalm 16:11

There are layers to Autumn’s beauty

autumn-quotography-72
Autumn is the eternal corrective. It is ripeness and color and a time of maturity; but it is also breadth, and depth, and distance.
~Hal Borland

November is here and the strangest thing has happened. In the course of just a few days, a coziness has settled in and everything just feels different. October is lovely, and the wildness of the autumnal colors peak about the third week here in middle Missouri. But now, watching the leaves fall like rain with the November wind, everything is becoming more subdued and a quietness is descending…much like when wisdom and maturity sets in after the wildness of youth.

November is the month we close our windows and begin to turn inward…to hearth and home….to focus on relationships….to take time to assess our lives and count our blessings. The force that drives us indoors is the same one that invites us to look inward at ourselves.

There is mystery in Autumn like no other season. Spring holds the excitement of rebirth, and summer is nothing but a scattered, free spirit. Winter is deceptive with its mirage of bleakness all the while harboring growth and anticipation underneath its white mantle.

But, there are layers to Autumn.

As we are drawn inside (physically and psychologically) during Autumn, we tap into our inner selves and in reflection…reflect outwardly on the year as well as inwardly in self-evaluation. And, that inward evaluation can lead to feelings of vulnerability as we asses our comfort zones and areas where a seasonal shift may be necessary. Outwardly, Autumn’s harvest has been brought inside and is neatly stored in the pantries and cellars for winter nourishment. Inwardly, Autumn is a time for us to nourish the soul by letting go of behaviors and mindsets that keep us from thriving, and focusing on priorities of the mind, body and spirit.

So put on that cozy sweater. Simmer a pot of soup. Walk in the brisk, cold air with the summer’s leaves crunching under your feet. Feel the warmth that stirs both body and soul.

Welcome November with its sweet reflections and rich blessing.

Playing Quotography along with Kelley
and with Lisa at Life Through the Lens

September is all but gone already!

autumn-quotography72

By all these lovely tokens,
September days are here,
With summer’s best of weather,
And autumn’s best of cheer.
~Helen Hunt Jackson

 Wasn’t the first of September just last week? I really don’t know how the months slip by so quickly. With October just a short one week away, we’re quickly falling into Fall. Temps are suppose to cool a bit this coming week. Right now, it’s only 61F at 10am. The windows have been thrown open and the AC turned OFF!

I found some signs of early Autumn last week. You can see them HERE. I hope to make it to a park with the grand girls for the main event in a few weeks.

Entrepreneur celebrated a birthday this past week. The Golfer couldn’t make it but The Recruiter, Peanut, Twix and his parents joined us. He says it’s no big deal, but I’m thankful for every day….especially birth days since the cancer scare of a couple years ago. We also celebrated Peanut’s 8th birthday earlier this month.

I hope you all have a wonderful, Autumn week.

Playing Quotography along with Kelley