March Muse

Ben picked camellias today on our walk. Camellias mean perfected loveliness. In the Victorian era, they were given when courting. Click here for list of different flower’s meanings in the Victorian era.

From The History and Language of Flowers

  • CAMELLIA (PINK) – Longing
  • CAMELLIA (RED) – You’re a flame in my heart
  • CAMELLIA (WHITE) – Adoration, Perfection, Loveliness

Camilla — Youth and Beauty

I live in a house built in 1880. I guess that means I kind of live in the Victorian age.

Victorian Snow Fall

Victorian Snow Fall

We also saw a bright red cardinal. It was interesting because I literally was just thinking about my mom. And the cardinal came out of nowhere. It was so red. We stared up at the tree, our necks craned. Then I reminded Ben that Bob the Builder was into birds too.

This is a link about the meaning of cardinals. The second paragraph is very interesting to me since my mother recently passed away.

Cardinal in tree

Cardinal in tree

“Many spiritual people will tell you that a cardinal also represents death or afterlife. Reports from loved ones and hospice workers often state that a cardinal appears just before or after a death, or that a cardinal frequently visits or appears in dreams after the loss of a loved one. As a totem symbol, the cardinal symbolizes vitality. A balance of intuition, perseverance and strength, the cardinal is said to offer safe passage into the realm of personal power to realize one’s goals and dreams.” –

My mother gave me this angel and her mother gave it to her.

My mother gave me this angel and her mother gave it to her.

“Many spiritual people will tell you that a cardinal also represents death or afterlife.”

"Where there is sorrow there is holy ground." - Kahlil Gibran

“Where there is sorrow there is holy ground.” – Oscar Wilde

I spoke with someone I went to junior high with in Chicago today. He lives in my hometown, where I grew up (Wheaton). He is going to help me create a video for The Community Kitchen to help promote the book project. Anyway, he went to the elementary school where my mom worked and he remembered her. He remembered her red hair. Her beautiful flaming red hair as bright as the cardinal. I got all verklempt and couldn’t hold back the tears. It was strange being so vulnerable with someone I hadn’t seen or spoken with since junior high school.

My mom, Betty with her beautiful red hair and amazing smile

My mom, Betty with her beautiful red hair and amazing smile

Those two moments today were beautiful, but sharp. Like an elegant stick — like the elegant stick that Ben grabbed as I tried to corral him away from the street as he walked in toddler wonder, curious about beauty with his two camellias he picked for his daddy. Perfected loveliness.wm Ben with flowers
“You will lose someone you can’t live without,and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly—that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.”
― Anne Lamott

In memory of my mother, Elizabeth Miller.

in memory wmstone statue wm

Recommended reading: The Language of Flowers by Victoria Diffenbaugh

“It wasn’t as if the flowers themselves held within them the ability to bring an abstract definition into physical reality. Instead, it seemed that…expecting change, and the very belief in the possibility instigated a transformation.”
― Vanessa Diffenbaugh, The Language of Flowers

Who do you miss and what makes you think of them?

Feel free to write a comment and/or add “In memory of…”

Just Get in the Car and Drive

I need the sea.

“The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.” Jacques Yves Cousteau

I haven’t been to the beach at all this summer.  With gas prices, it is just not in the books for us to spend that much money to go to the beach for a day.  I wish I lived closer.

The open spaces of the West provide that clarity and calm.  I need wide open spaces.

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I am  not much a water person, as far as swimming goes.  I am not a strong swimmer.  As long as I have a floatie, I am fine to bob in the water, but much of the time I spend close to shore and frog swim, otherwise known as the breast stroke.

Safely swimming with my floatie

I took swim lessons as a child and remember diving into the frigid water early mornings.  I remember complaining how cold the water was and my mom came to swim classes with me.

I spoke to my mom recently and she was totally with it.  It is strange to see her in person, as she is confined to her wheelchair and bed. But on the phone, I imagine her animated and full of physical movement.

My parents were very spontaneous when I was a child.  We often ended up hoping into our RV and taking off on weekends without a moment’s notice.  As far as I can remember my parents didn’t worry about logistics; they just went.  They both were free spirits.  But then again, my mom probably had everything already figured out in her head how to pull off last-minute trips.

Now that I am a mother, I stress about just getting showered, dressed and out the door. Sippy cups have to be packed, diapers and wipes, and of course snacks.  Nobody wants to be in the car with a hungry toddler.

I am thinking about a last minute trip to the beach. What would that involve?  Would it be better to just get in the car and drive, as my parents often did? We’d pick up supplies when necessary. For my parents, coffee and cigarettes were (my parents were both chain smokers) the only necessary items.  My parents took us to parks every weekend, where we could play and they could talk.

This short little post is all I can crank out today.  I am having writer’s block a little.  I am just so busy, as is the rest of America.  But I feel that I am getting ready to harvest the summer crop of thoughts and ideas that have been growing.

I recently wrote a grant through my local arts council to help fund a research trip to Chicago for a book project I am working on.  I grew up in Chicago (ages 0 – 15) so Chicago is my home too.  We moved to Cheyenne when I was 15.

The book project I am working on is called The Community Kitchen: Women in the Kitchen and History in the Making.  I am very excited about this project.  You can click on the link to learn about its history and my connection to it.  My graduate school adviser wrote me a letter of reference for the grant.  I was floored by what he said about my writing ability and the potential of this project.  I have a hard time believing in myself sometimes.  OK — I will freaking admit it, I am insecure.  But I read this quote (courtesy of the Book Doctors) and it struck a chord with me and also made me feel better.

“The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser men so full of doubts.”
― Bertrand Russell

“The greater the artist, the greater the doubt. Perfect confidence is granted to the less talented as a consolation prize.”

 Robert Hughes 

I must be a great artist because I doubt myself way too much.  The thing is, I know I am meant to be an author and to teach others to write. Actually, I think my true duty as a teacher is to inspire others to write and to inspire them to share their story.  I believe everyone has a story.

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”

― Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

memomuse in the White Mountains

Well, I better close up this post and get to my own writing.  You too!  If you are looking for inspirational quotes, check out this facebook  page,  Trust me.

Anyway,  hope you have time to be spontaneous and go off on an adventure.  I think I will be spontaneous and write and not worry where I am going.  No maps, no GPS, no sippy cups, no snacks. Just do as my parents did and just get in the car with the essentials–in my case, gas in the tank. And just drive…

Or perhaps, I should learn from my son and go off the pavement and onto the unknown road…

My son creating his own path and going off the paved road.

memomuse on top of the world. This photo is from my honeymoon in Yellowstone and the Grand Teton National Forest. Those are the Grand Teton Mountains and Lake Jenny behind me.

Remember–whatever road you are on–Journal Your Journey

Hope. Wish. Dream. Be.
Journal Your Journey

And wherever you are–make some wishes.

Hope. Wish. Dream. Be.
Wishes can fuel an empty gas tank.

Change: Happy Autumnal Equinox

Photo by Megan Oteri © All Rights Reserved

Happy Autumnal Equinox.  Change is coming whether we like it or not.  Do you like change?

I am going through many changes myself and I feel uncomfortable with some of the changes.  I am trying to let go of a need to control things and allow the universe to unfold as She wills.  But often, I feel that decisions I make have a direct influence on Her will.  Sometimes we are faced with decisions we have to make.  Often, this is the case. What do I have for breakfast?  Coffee and more coffee or yogurt and fruit.  Simple choices such as these have a direct effect on our health. Little by little they stack up, like tiny rocks placed on each other.

Healthy choices are also essential when it comes to our mental health.  If I had it my way, I would just sit, be silent and refuse to make a choice.  Now that I am a mother, the choices I make have a direct influence in the life of my child.  I am aware of this on such an intense level that I often have anxiety over it.  I have never been one to love making decisions.  Honestly, I hate them.  I freak out over what salad dressing to choose.  I make the waitress list them all and usually go with ranch (I must admit I love the milky creamy ranch that is a bit watery.  Do you know what I am talking about?)

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If you have had the pleasure of eating with me in a restaurant, I often anguish over making a choice. Should I choose something different?  Should I choose what I always order?  What if I don’t like it?  Will it be wasted money?  When I do go out to a restaurant, more often than not, it is Thai food.  There is one dish I am always happy with: Drunken Noodles. I get the Tom Kha soup before my entrée and water as a beverage.  I hardly ever stray from this decision.  I have taken chances and ordered something new, but I often wish for my comfort choice, as I love love love Drunken Noodles.

Am I getting old and stuck in my ways? Yes, I am getting older and am becoming more conservative in my choices.  I tend to make safety decisions and when I do take a risk, I weigh the consequences that will effect my family.

Perhaps I am not as conservative as I think I am.  I am still a free spirit and go with the flow a lot.  But I struggle with change, like most people.  I have gone through many changes in the last decade–marriage, death of a parent (dad), major illness and health decline of a parent (mom), birth of a child, Master’s degree, career change (from teacher to Teaching Artist and Writer), moving to a new state and across the country (from Wyoming to North Carolina), and many other ones.  Though these changes did not happen overnight, they happened nonetheless.

Leaf on a Rock by Megan Oteri © All Rights Reserved

I guess I am welcoming fall for the changes in nature that lie ahead, but moreover, I welcome the changes that are going to happen in my personal life.  I am not sure what these changes are, but I know change happens.

I look to the future with a positive attitude and rely on my support system of family, friends, and health (mind, body, spirit).

I remember hearing a quote when I was teaching about how when you struggle with a  new concept and feel overwhelmed and confused, you are about to turn the corner onto discovery and understanding.

Each choice we make has a ripple effect.  Like rocks placed on top of each other, they all stack up to create a whole.

The photos in this post are from the White Mountains last fall on the Kangamangus Highway in New Hampshire.

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