That which fills me with peace (#30DaysofMay)



Deep peace of the singing earth to you

Deep peace of the calling bird to you

Deep peace of the quiet stone to you

Deep peace of the crackling leaf to you
Deep peace of the wild world to you

Deep peace of the infinite peace to you*
Today was the final day of the 30 Days of May course. I kept my commitment to myself to write a post a day and, once again, I really enjoyed the process. 
I also smiled to learn a new vocabulary word on facebook this afternoon: 



(*doesn’t feel right to end a “deep peace” blessing without this line from the original Gaelic blessing)

Categories: #30Daysof May, blessings, nature, prayers, sacred pause, self-care, spirituality | Leave a comment

The beauty that is You (#30DaysofMay)

showheaderToday, my stomach bottomed out a little when I saw this pop up in my Facebook feed. Who does she think SHE is, anyway?! I was originally thrilled to be asked to participate in A Gathering of Priestesses, a live show which I really enjoy, but now that the date rapidly approaches, I find myself feeling incredibly nervous and a little sick. (And, I actually have another interview the very next day for a different program. What was I thinking?!) Gloria posted on my wall and asked me to share the link with my friends and my first reaction was, “I don’t think I will.” ;)

Coincidentally, the question I most recently posed to my dissertation study group was about politics and the priestess…

The last section of my dissertation will look at the sociopolitical value of the priestess–priestess as political statement and social change agent, basically. I’m not talking about small group politics anymore, instead I’m looking at wide cultural politics and perception. Here is a great quote:

“On a very primal level, seeing women hold power in the public spiritual sphere stimulates people’s belief and trust that women can therefore be an authority in other places, as in political office, or corporations. The impact of the symbolic role of the priestess in public ritual reaches into our psyche; this is why it’s important that priestesses be seen performing public rituals and openly invoking the Goddess.”

(From “The Priestess as Wedding Ceremonialist” by Josephine MacMillan, in Stepping into Ourselves)

I went on to ask:

Thoughts, opinions, personal experiences? How do you see yourself as a change agent? Do you think your priestess work has a political component? Are you consciously/intentionally making a specific “statement” with your work or is it a byproduct? (Or a personal experience rather than a cultural one.)

My sick-to-my-stomach feeling about the upcoming interview involves some of these nasty little thought-worms: Too visible. Be smaller. What right do you have? Who do you think you are? What if someone hates you? How does this relate to the 30 Days of May prompt for today about, “the beauty that is You”? Well, because it reminds me of my own strength and gift in feeling fear and doing it anyway. That takes courage and guts and, really, confidence, that I may not recognize immediately in myself, but it is there. A long time ago, I participated in a self-renewal group conference call in which the facilitator asked how comfortable we are with risk-taking.  My initial response was “not at all. I am completely risk averse.” But, in the journaling that followed, I realized that I am only risk averse when talking about physical risks, like bungee jumping or hang-gliding. In my personal life, in “putting myself out there” with my work and ideas, in teaching and writing and facilitating and speaking, actually makes me one of the risk-takingest people I know!

In an interconnected coincidence, I also watched a video from a member of my Priestess Path group, Patricia Ballentine, and seeing her speak with confidence about her experiences, helps me prepare to share mine!

Now, who wants to hold my hand and “doula” me through this interview? ;)

Related past post:

Thursday Thealogy: Interconnectivity, Witches, and Fear | WoodsPriestess.

And, here’s just one example (of many) of why this sense of fear and riskiness is not entirely misplaced: there is a place where women are dying to be heard | Pagan Devotionals.

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Categories: #30Daysof May, dissertation, priestess, womanspirit, women | Leave a comment

Loving the earth (#30DaysofMay)

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the flowers bend their bright bodies,
and tip their fragrance to the air,
and rise,
their red stems holding
all that dampness and recklessness
gladly and lightly,
and there it is again —
beauty the brave, the exemplary,
blazing open.
Do you love this world?

–excerpt “Peonies” by Mary Oliver*

Loving the world feels like a difficult topic to write about today when I see news coverage of the recent oil spill in Santa Barbara and read about the dolphins dying. It can be easy to start to feel discouraged and hopeless in the face of such destruction and lack of love for the earth, our precious, irreplaceable home.

I have often noted that while I definitely enjoy seeing my rosebush bloom and seeing beautiful flowers at other people’s houses, one of my favorite things about spring and summer is discovering what the earth has planted for us on her own. However, like the iris above that I spotted blooming by the side of the gravel road today (not by a house), I also think about the lasting imprint of the things we plant around our homes, perhaps one of our most lasting legacies.

When I wrote my final reflection for my Ecology and the Sacred class, I included this reflection on those things we plant…

…on the same road on which we live, there are several former homesites, with a variety of introduced plant life that continues to bloom each year. Around the corner from us is a ramshackle house that has not been inhabited for about 50 years. It has a gorgeous flowering quince that blooms each spring and dozens and dozens of iris bloom as well, making bright spots of color barely visible through the trees that have grown up to nearly cover the house. The home in which my parents live (one mile away) is a restored log cabin originally built in 1899 and moved to the current location from a spot out by the gravel road. Jonquils had been planted along the front of the house and in the yard area (so, sometime during the early 1900’s, I would imagine) and those jonquils continue to bloom each year in the now-woods and by my parents’ house, where my mom transplanted some originals along with the house itself.

When driving down the gravel road in the springtime, there is another location of a previous home that is only identifiable visually when the jonquils bloom and as their yellow glow catches your eye through the trees, you can also see a small footer of a crumbled foundation nearby, indicating they were once planted in front of a home. I am struck by the fact that this rosebush and tulip tree that I’ve introduced to my own home landscape may well outlast us and our entire home and may indeed be our most lasting “legacy” on this patch of earth…

via Woodspriestess: The Language of Spring | WoodsPriestess.

And, recently, I read this beautiful reflection by Jodi Sky Rogers about the traces we leave behind:

…So I hope that the traces I leave behind will reflect all these things that I carry in my heart. I pray that I find ways to leave behind a trail of petals that touch, inspire and heal those who I meet along my path – delicate heart-shaped petals that are imbued with love and good intentions. And should they fall on futile ground, may they turn to dust and return to the Earth as a nourishing gift for all that she gives me.

via The Traces We Leave Behind | Jodi Sky Rogers.

This iris that I saw this morning, blooming despite many landscape changes, felt like a reminder that the traces we leave behind can be beautiful, tenacious, graceful, and loving and I appreciated its message.

“The world is holy. We are holy. All life is holy. Daily prayers are delivered on the lips of breaking waves, the whisperings of grasses, the shimmering of leaves.”
~Terry Tempest Williams

(*I spotted the Mary Oliver poem I opened this post with in Vanessa Sage’s recent newsletter. I also signed up for her upcoming free ecourse: Enchant Your Everyday)

Categories: #30Daysof May, nature | Leave a comment

Red Tent Wisdom

“Moontime opens up our intuition.
By allowing ourselves to honour this time,
we can eliminate premenstrual tendencies…
Moontime is a sacred passage leading
to a greater awareness of self.”

–Veronika Robinson, Cycle to the Moon (p. 142)

In April, on the evening of our local Red Tent Circle, a package arrived for me from the UK. In it was the beautiful book by Veronika Robinson, Cycle to the Moon, that I won in the Red Tent fundraising auction for Moontimes. March 2015 183

Cycle to the Moon is a quick read and an inspiring one. The line illustrations are beautiful and the combination of journal pages/prompts and text is nice. I marked some good quotes to share. The first, was about womancraft, something I touched on in my new Red Tent Resource Kit book. In that book, I shared the story of how, at a meeting for breastfeeding women, I suggested having a women’s circle and calling it “Mothercraft.” Another woman at the meeting said it sounded interesting, but, “if it was called that, I’d never go.” All I could surmise is that it was because the word sounded too much like “witchcraft.”

“The early Christian Church considered the blood of menstruation to be ‘wasted babies,’ hence the mass killing of witches for ‘killing babies…women were burnt for knowing their woman-craft. That is to say, they understood their dreams, used herbs, and celebrated the process of menstruation. Witch means woman. Their craft, woman-craft, was, quite simply, understanding the mysteries of life” (p. 19).

Cycle to the Moon also suggests a neat idea of creating a “Red Box” for a pre-teen daughter. Either together with yourc2m3D daughter or on your own for a surprise, collect special items in a box to be given to her upon menarche. It can have jewelry, garnet gemstones, books, cloth pads, tea, and so forth. She makes the potent observations that how we welcome young girls into womanhood, sets the stage for how they will view themselves and their life cycles and transitions for a lifetime:

“As we hold the hands of our young sisters when they cross the menstrual threshold, we would be wise to remember that their experience of this cycle will affect them throughout their childbearing years and into menopause. There’s a red thread which weaves through these major themes of our life. Every moment is connected. Whatever we have learned and integrated benefits not only us, but the culture” (p. 41).

Robinson also writes about the idea how you treat yourself during menstruation as a “mirror of your life”:

“The simple truth is that menstruation is a mirror of your life. If you’re not honouring your body through healthy food choices; ample hydration; rest; playtime; calmly managing stressful events; positive thoughts; creativity and sleep; then it will show up in your menstrual cycle…your hormones will come to call; and they will demand that you rest. You might try and quiet them down with headache tablets or something pharmaceutical for cramps, but they will keep talking to you (even if it takes twenty years), until you get the message. If you don’t honour your body during the menstrual years, you are highly likely to suffer when you reach menopause…

What we do in our own local Red Tent Circle varies each month, but we start with introductions using our maternal May 2015 047line and a red thread to represent our connection to the women who came before us and who will go after us, we sing, we have a sharing circle where we “pass the rattle” and talk about our lives and have what we say witnessed and held in safe space. We do a guided meditation and journaling and then a project. In April we had a salt bowl ceremony and then did footbaths and in May we made moon necklaces. We close with a poetry reading and a song. There is tea and a “reflection” table with guidance cards, art supplies, and books to look at. At our May Circle, I shared these two quotes:

“The revolution must have dancing; women know this. The music will light our hearts with fire,
The stories will bathe our dreams in honey and fill our bellies with stars…”

–Nina Simons in We’Moon 2012

“A woman’s best medicine is quite simply herself, the powerful resources of her own deep consciousness, giving her deep awareness of her own physiology as it changes from day to day.”

–Veronica Butler and Melanie Brown

I asked the women to share their revolutions and their medicine. As they spoke, I realized that my “revolution” and my “medicine” were in the planning and facilitation of these Circles, as well as in the online Red Tent Initiation Program I will be offering this summer. I’m so glad I decided to go this direction this year.

May 2015 072

Categories: books, community, moontime, resources, reviews, ritual, womanspirit, women, women's circle | Leave a comment

Loving myself. (#30DaysofMay)

IMG_5196Sometimes I can be hard on myself about my drive to be “productive” and about not allowing myself time to rest. Today, I decided to acknowledge and celebrate that it feels really good to do hard work on something I’m excited about. It is exciting to watch projects emerge and take flight. It is fulfilling to have ideas and to stick with them, doing the work to birth them into the world. Rest is good too, but today, the love is in allowing myself to burn with feverish productivity and enthusiastic hope. I’m working on the finishing touches on the Womanrunes Immersion e-course that begins in June and also on the planning and preparation for an even bigger project, a Red Tent Initiation Program. I’ve been gestating the seeds of both ideas for a while, but they felt “too big” and almost scary. However, gradually, step-by-step they kept unfolding and I got brave enough to name and claim that, yes, I am doing this.

Categories: #30Daysof May, self-care | 2 Comments

A whisper of the Beloved (#30DaysofMay

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“…Enough with such questions!
Let silence take you to the core of life.
All your talk is worthless
When compared to one whisper
of the Beloved.”

— Rumi

Categories: #30Daysof May, art, nature, quotes, sacred pause, woodspriestess | Leave a comment

Prayers made of grass (#30DaysofMay)

IMG_5181One of the most magical aspects of the 30 Days courses is the synchronicities that emerge. Yesterday,  had a really bad headache. I wanted to do some art journaling, but I simply couldn’t focus my thoughts, energy, or attention. What I did do was copy down a quote from Mary Oliver (top left image above). I tried to tie the quote into my post for yesterday, but couldn’t quite make it fit. I put the picture into my post several times and then deleted it. I wanted to share it, but it didn’t “work” with that day’s theme. Anyway, I opened the lesson for today and there it was! The whole poem from Mary containing the quote I copied yesterday, leaping off the page at me again. How neat is that?!️

I spent a long time today composing photos in the woods for my Womanrunes Immersion ecourse and had a beautiful time of solitude and creativity doing so. First, I wasn’t sure what photos to take, but then I heard: Trust the process. Let the cards speak for themselves. And, they did. Can’t wait to share more pictures!

Categories: #30Daysof May, nature, Womanrunes | Leave a comment

Body to body. The Boat of Heaven. (#30DaysofMay)

“The tools are unimportant; we have all we need to make magic: our bodies, our breath, our voices, each other.” –Starhawk

(quoted in Dedicant)

“This grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never dried at once; a shower is forever falling; vapor is ever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal sunset, eternal dawn and gloaming, on sea and continents and islands, each in its turn, as the round earth rolls.”

–John Muir

I stand on the body of the Goddess
I sit on her bones
I breathe her breath
Spirit of Life moving through me
Her voice sings in my blood
stars shine in my veins
my heartbeat a drum
tuned to the core of the planet…

via Goddess Body, World Body | WoodsPriestess

Related posts: Woodspriestess: Body Prayer  Woodspriestess: Pelvic Cradle

Categories: #30Daysof May, blessings, embodiment, Goddess, nature, poems, sacred pause, spirituality, theapoetics, woodspriestess | Leave a comment

(Everyday) Wonders of the Earth (#30DaysofMay)

May you know the warmth of sunshine and of smiles
May you celebrate friendship and solitude
May you open your arms to someone’s first step
May you cry well, laugh often, and feel much
May you feel the deep connection between past and future
And may you dwell in all the fullness of your days.

Most of my posts for the 30 Days of May have centered around nature. Today, I’m centering on the “wonder” in the prompt. Two things have given me cause for wonder today. The first was my feelings of sheer joy after our Red Tent Circle last night. I listened to the recording I made of the Dance in a Circle of Women song we sang and I am just so very grateful to have women to share experiences like this with. I am so fortunate that I can hardly believe it. The second is that my mom brought over some old home movies that were recently digitized by my aunt. These are not just any home movies, but are silent movies taken over 60 years ago of my own mother as a baby crawling and then toddling around with her parents holding her hands. All four of my maternal great-grandparents are in the footage, my great-great uncle, my uncle taking his first steps into my grandpa’s arms, my grandma smiling and eating watermelon, my aunt and my mom playing at the beach. There was a terribly beautiful poignancy to watching them and thinking about how much is lost to memory and to time.

My own little girl set up a “tiny tent” today in the bedroom. She wanted very badly to go to the Red Tent with me last night and was disappointed not to be included. She said we could have a “Goddess Day” today and she got things all set up in a little Cars-movie red tent that we have. Along with the goddess sculptures she collected to set up with candles in the tent, she also dragged in a family of robots. We sat in the tent together and I was watching the baby practicing standing up and looking at my daughter’s smiling face and I could feel the link—the watermelon, the smile, the beach, the tiny tent, all the babies. It is all so real. It was all so real. I appreciate the movies, I don’t know very many people who have seen videos of their own moms crawling around the floor as babies, but it really struck me painfully that none of those moments matter as much as they do when they’re actually happening. No one will ever care about my little baby practicing his standing as much as I do right now (whether recorded or not). No one cared as much about my uncle’s first steps as his parents there in that moment over fifty years ago. I can’t even really explain what I mean without sounding trite. There is a so much to pay attention to, all the time.  Right now, I’m nursing somebody’s grandpa, someone else’s history. Right now, I’m nursing my baby…

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Categories: #30Daysof May, blessings, family, parenting, prayers, sacred pause, women's circle | Leave a comment

Womanrunes Immersion eCourse

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I’m excited to take my work into some new areas over the summer. We’ve launched a new branch for our offerings: the Creative Ceremony Academy. A Womanrunes Immersion is the first e-course!

Womanrunes Immersion 41 Day e-Course Experience

Begins June 21, 2015*

Do you want to create a sacred “time out” in your day to listen to yourself and to explore a deeper relationship with the womanrunes course messages of the world around you? Are you looking for a means of experiencing your inner wisdom as well as accessing the flow of womanspirit truths around you? Do you want to tap into Goddess guidance and Earth-based wisdom? Are you hungering for a pathway to your own “truth-sense”? This immersive experience is designed for you! This 41 day e-course will take you on a deep personal journey, uncovering your inner wisdom and deep guidance using Womanrunes, a powerful system of divination and intuitive guidance for personal growth. Used as a dynamic, hands-on, participatory system, Womanrunes become part of your own language of the Divine, the Goddess, your inner wisdom, and womanspirit truths.

Womanrunes are a unique and powerful divination system that use simple, woman-identified symbols to connect deeply with your own inner wisdom as well as the flow of womanspirit knowledge that surrounds you. Used as a personal oracle, they offer spiritual insight, understanding, and guidance as well as calls to action and discovery. Women who use them are amazed to discover how the symbols and interpretations reach out with exactly what you need in that moment. Women’s experiences with Womanrunes are powerful, magical, inspirational, potent, and mystical. The wisdom within them can be drawn upon again and again, often uncovering new information, understanding, and truth with each reading.

Many women are amazed by how these symbols speak to something deep within them. You may have the experience of feeling heard and answered when you choose a card and read its interpretation. Womanrunes provide a pathway to your own “truth-sense.” They open you up to your own internal guidance or to messages and inspiration from the Goddess, the Earth, or your spiritual guides.

There are two registration options for this course.

Immersion Experience Option 1, $62

Includes:

  • Womanrunes book and card set May 2015 033
  • Bonus tree pendant gift
  • Digital starter kit with how to create your own runes + printable rune set
  • Printable journal pages for each rune
  • 41 days of guided rune exploration through art, photo, and journal prompts
  • Full moon and new moon ritual outlines
  • Access to a private Facebook group for sisterhood, sharing, guidance, and support
  • $40 discount on our upcoming Listening to the Deep Self professional divination practicum launching in October.

Immersion Experience Option 2, $40 (includes all digital resources above, no book):

  • Digital starter kit with how to create your own runes + printable rune set
  • Printable journal pages for each rune
  • 41 days of guided rune exploration through art, photo, and journal prompts
  • Full moon and new moon ritual outlines
  • Access to a private Facebook group for sisterhood, sharing, guidance, and support
  • $40 discount on our upcoming Listening to the Deep Self professional divination practicum launching in October.

To register, visit the course page here: Womanrunes Immersion – Brigid’s Grove.

(*Why June 21st? Because it was on the Summer Solstice in 1987 that Shekhinah Mountainwater experienced her “goddess-lightning strike” of inspiration and the Womanrunes were born!)

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Categories: divination, Goddess, priestess, sacred pause, spirituality, Womanrunes, womanspirit, women, women's circle | 3 Comments

Fruit that is sweet. (#30DaysofMay)

“Let my lover come into my garden,
and taste its delicious fruits.
Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth:
for thy love is better than wine…”

— Song of Solomon, King James Version

We discovered this strawberry in the central pole at Woodhenge on our visit to Cahokia Mounds. While I usually try to post a picture I took the same day in response to the 30 Days prompt of the day, today’s themes based on The Song of Solomon and the eroticism of divine relationship, brought this photo back to mind. I feel like it was perfectly intended for today’s reading and theme. ❤️

Categories: #30Daysof May, theapoetics | Leave a comment

Love charm (#30DaysofMay)

Oh, my love come to me.
Love me as the earth loves me,
Gentle and firm beneath me
Broad hands, strong arms.
Love me as the earth loves me.

Oh, my love come to me.
Love me as the air loves me,
Sweet kisses on neck and eyelids,
Rising and falling.
Love me as the air loves me.

Oh, my love come to me.
Love me as the water loves me,
Nourishing me, filling me.
Quenching my thirst.
Love me as the water loves me.

Oh, my love come to me.
Love me as the fire loves me,
Hot and fierce and fast.
Able to bend metal with passion.
Love me as the fire loves me.

I’m not really a “love charm” type of writer, so this prompt was quite a stretch for me. I was thinking about it and looking at the vase a good friend brought me for my birthday this year. As I looked at the exuberance of the dance and the movement expressed, bits of a charm came to mind. I pictured her dancing and singing the words above, calling her love to her through her rhythm…

As wing takes to air
As hoof drums the ground
As fire lights the night
As water bathes my brow
Oh, my love come to me.
Love me as the world loves me.
Forever and ever and always*.

(*The cadence with which I spoke it and the phrasing of the charm are actually similar to the book Mama, Do You Love Me?, which all of my kids have liked me to read to them.)

 

Categories: #30Daysof May, blessings, nature, poems, prayers, theapoetics | 2 Comments

Approaching the beautiful (#30DaysofMay)

When we approach with reverence, great things decide to approach us. Our real life comes to the surface and its light awakens the concealed beauty in things. When we walk on the earth with reverence, beauty will decide to trust us. The rushed heart and arrogant mind lack the gentleness and patience to enter that embrace.”

― John O’Donohue, Beauty: The Invisible Embrace (via 30 Days of Bringing in the May)

I’m in the middle of finals week right now. I know finals week is hard on students, but it is seriously hard on professors too. Teaching fits into my life and is very rewarding. Grading is an enormous energetic expenditure that doesn’t feel like it fits (i.e. it “takes from” other important areas). It takes a while to rebound from being thrown off balance like this. I always feel as if I’m “getting home” from being out of town when I resurface after finals week, and just like getting home from a trip, there is a lot to catch up with and it takes time to recover. I literally feel energetically drained, like something has been taken out of me that I didn’t really have available to give. I also notice a pattern of depressive thoughts at this time: not a good mother, not a good friend, not a good wife, not a good daughter, not enough, not enough, not enough, no one likes me, what is the point of anything, why do I try, who do I think I am, what do I have to offer. (Usually accompanied by a headache.) I’m trying to just observe and notice this as a pattern, rather than getting stuck in the thought-ruts. However, even this noticing usually involves a hearty dose of self-beratement: how come I can’t remember this, how come I can’t be more zen, how come I can’t “unclench” and flow, how dare I claim to be a “spiritual” person when this is how I think and feel, and blah, blah, blah.

Today I went outside after finishing my stack of final exams. We were supposed to get family pictures taken this afternoon and I’d finally come to the conclusion that it didn’t make sense to do pictures today and I should reschedule. Right then, my photographer-friend messaged me to suggest the exact same thing! Sweet relief! It is interesting how a fairly small adjustment to a day can relieve some of the drain and restore some of the energy. Just then my four-year-old brought a clover flower over to me and said, “I picked this for you, Mama, to help you have a happy day!” I smelled it and realized I may never have truly smelled a clover flower before. It was beautiful. I sniffed and sniffed the flower. My husband and daughter picked more flowers and we all inhaled the smell of them deeply. Indescribably lovely. And, then I realized…this is “approaching the beautiful.”

Categories: #30Daysof May, family, nature, sacred pause, self-care, woodspriestess | 2 Comments

One face of love (#30DaysofMay)

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“To nurture life is to . . . embody the intelligent Love that is the ground of all being.” 

— Carol Christ, Nine Touchstones of Goddess Religion 

Today is the twentieth anniversary of my first date with my husband. Seems fitting that the prompt for today was about the faces of love! I’m so grateful for him. I’m also super exhausted tonight and feel like I’m coming down with a cold, so all the lovely things I’d thought about today and planned write about, simply aren’t flowing now. I’m committed to my post a day self-challenge though! ;)

(*I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned that I’m primarily doing this 30 Days of May through themed photos on Instagram. Feel free to follow along there!)

Categories: #30Daysof May, family | 2 Comments

Experiencing Aphrodite (#30DaysofMay)



Love notes from nature. 

Kissed by sun

Kissed by rain

Kissed by breeze.

This might be my favorite photo from this month of posts so far. 

My baby has a cold and is in a crabby mood. I took him with me to the woods this afternoon for a sacred pause together. He was instantly happier and delighted into standing while holding onto the rocks. On our way back to the house, I stopped to check the raspberries, one of my favorite messengers of summer, and took the picture for today. Then, I turned and saw our first daisies of the season…





Categories: #30Daysof May, nature, sacred pause | Leave a comment

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