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

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.” – wildlife.blurtit.com

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…”

Change Creates Beauty


© Megan Oteri

November is my favorite month, even though it is a very sad month for me as well.  Change came sweeping into my life October 2003 when my father was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer.  It was sudden; it was swift.  November was a huge month, with her arms stretched out wide, encircling my entire life as I knew it.  It was a month of change, of acceptance,  of denial, of love, of hope, of life.  Then December came and November was gone, into the dark of the night of winter, leaving all traces of autumn.

November in North Carolina is a colorful month full of dark browns, cool red hues, and a collage of warm buttery colors.  I do love November in North Carolina.  Perhaps it is because November in North Carolina is so very far away from the 2003 November of Wyoming, when my heart stood still — stood thick, like molasses stuck in quicksand — sticky and sinking.

Change happens.  It is just inevitable.  Nature tempts us each year with metaphor and grace; her cycles a lesson.  I no longer just see color, I smell it.  It contains a small pea of memory.  This pea multiplies and muses me; November is a symphony of this music.  I breathe a little easier once past December 10 or is it 11?  Not so sure anymore, as the years have passed — almost a decade, minus one equals nine.  My father passed in the middle of the night. My mother held his hand as he died.  My sister begged to know the next day if the angels came.  My mother said, “No.  His pulse quickened and he was gone.”  My mother is a stoic one.  She is matter of fact and to the point.  Something I love and also something I get annoyed with at the same time.  She is a New Yorker, born and bred, with an adolescent Illinois backdrop.

Honest speak — we didn’t think my dad would die before my mom.  In fact, my mom had brain tumors diagnosed and brain surgery three years before the October tree began to lose its leaves.  I had been planning on my mom dying before my dad, in quite dramatic expectation.

Anyway, here I wanted to just post some lovely fall photos and I get all deep and depressing.  I don’t care. In fact, I admit I love to soak in the deep water of death, for I have rinsed my hands and wiped my own tears in it.   There is a beauty to death.  Something I am not afraid of, and at times I am almost callous about.  I have had several close friends lose their parents recently.  They are a mess (understandably).  I feel like a veteran, no longer a rookie on the pain of death.

Light Tree

“All that you touch
You Change.

All that you Change
Changes you.

The only lasting truth
is Change.

God
is Change.”
― Octavia E. Butler

For even in death, there is renewal.  When the tree loses its last leaf — a relief, for now it can rest. Growth will come, spring will awaken in spirit.

I often would pass messages to my father after his death through the birds. If a cardinal would appear, it always meant same day delivery, for cardinals were always my fathers favorite bird.  Well actually, I thought the cardinal was my dad. So I guess that would make it express delivery.

Fence

“Therefore, dear Sir, love your solitude and try to sing out with the pain it causes you. For those who are near you are far away… and this shows that the space around you is beginning to grow vast…. be happy about your growth, in which of course you can’t take anyone with you, and be gentle with those who stay behind; be confident and calm in front of them and don’t torment them with your doubts and don’t frighten them with your faith or joy, which they wouldn’t be able to comprehend. Seek out some simple and true feeling of what you have in common with them, which doesn’t necessarily have to alter when you yourself change again and again; when you see them, love life in a form that is not your own and be indulgent toward those who are growing old, who are afraid of the aloneness that you trust…. and don’t expect any understanding; but believe in a love that is being stored up for you like an inheritance, and have faith that in this love there is a strength and a blessing so large that you can travel as far as you wish without having to step outside it.”
― Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

“When we least expect it, life sets us a challenge to test our courage and willingness to change; at such a moment, there is no point in pretending that nothing has happened or in saying that we are not yet ready. The challenge will not wait. Life does not look back. A week is more than enough time for us to decide whether or not to accept our destiny.”
― Paulo Coelho, The Devil and Miss Prym

© Megan Oteri

“The snake which cannot cast its skin has to die. As well the minds which are prevented from changing their opinions; they cease to be mind.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche

Reflection

“Some changes look negative on the surface but you will soon realize that space is being created in your life for something new to emerge.”
― Eckhart Tolle

I am rather smitten with this photo. I just adore it.

“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” ― Mother Teresa

The photo of the leaf above is my favorite photo.  I have so many photos I have taken, but sometimes I just hit it out of the park with the bases loaded at the bottom of the ninth.  (My dad loved baseball — he would appreciate my hyperbole metaphor and I think he would love this photo too).

It is the darkness that makes the light shine brightest.