Category Archives: The Wheel of the Year

Exploring Old Roots and Growing New Shoots

What a difference one week makes! After the balance of sunlight tipped in favor of the Northern Hemisphere last week, I wasn’t ready for winter to end – which might be a first. Winter is the season of going inward, reflecting, and preparing for a new season of growth, and I wasn’t ready for the daffodils to shoot up so soon because my winter work wasn’t done. Although I was as thrilled as ever to hear a chorus of spring peepers for the first time when I drove by the creek one evening, at the same time, it felt premature. I needed more time! I was not ready to emerge from underground and shoot up with the daffodils and grass because I remained unclear about where I wanted to focus my energy and how I wanted to grow!

Mercifully, a week later, the energy has shifted. Perhaps it was the equinox, the full moon, the lunar eclipse, certain conversations, my prayers for guidance, the inner work, a breakthrough I had during meditation, a combination of the above, or some unknown grace. But now my energy is concentrated on a single purpose, and the seeds sown within me are ready to grow in the world. Apparently, I was right to trust the process and to believe clarity would arise in time – just as the plant world awakens every spring following a season of necessary dormancy. It was bound to happen.

As plants began invisibly sending out their roots, I found myself returning to both my spiritual and my photography roots. The waterfalls of Ithaca, NY provided my original inspiration for picking up a camera (an old Canon point-and-shoot) nearly 30 years ago, and in recent weeks, my passion for waterfall photography was reignited in full force. This month, I visited two waterfalls I’d never been to before. One was on a road I lived on when my children were young. I must have driven by it on nearly a daily basis but never noticed it! It’s an example of the countless opportunities and blessings that are overlooked when we’re caught up in our daily routines and don’t think to turn our heads a little more to either side and notice what exists in the periphery.

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As I processed my photos of that waterfall, I was drawn to the large rock in the middle of it (that resembles a turtle).

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It reminded me of a quote from Sufi master, Hazrat Inayat Khan:

“Stand through life as firm as a rock in the sea, undisturbed and unmoved by its ever-rising waves.”

It’s not the sea, but it speaks to me of believing in yourself, standing your ground, and being centered, even when there are many different streams of activity flowing around you and so much stuff going on that it can become distracting and feel overwhelming.

On Easter, I visited another waterfall and spent more than two hours in complete solitude working and worshipping in what felt like a private sanctuary. I sang, cried, prayed, gave thanks, and took plenty of photographs as the negative ions worked their waterfall magic on me.

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When I was about to leave, it occurred to me that a large rock in the foreground of my final shots seemed incomplete without a simple stone balance. At that point, I was thirsty, it was time to hit the road, and I had to focus on keeping myself balanced on a steep grade in order to balance the stones…but I couldn’t resist taking a couple extra minutes to create a simple balance.

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This afterthought of a balance was so simple that it barely qualified as my first official, outdoor balance of the year. However, it felt important to do, despite feeling thirsty, needing to get on my way, and not having level ground to stand on. Making the effort to create a delicate balance in front of the waterfall added a satisfying layer of meaning to the image. It spoke to something that was alive inside of me and needed to be expressed – channeled artistically, if you will – for there are times when you need to make an extra effort in order to create balance in your life.

In addition to returning to my photography roots, I recently had the great pleasure of returning to my spiritual roots and photographing the interior of the church I attended as a child. I hadn’t been inside the church (which has been converted into a performance and event venue) since I was nine years old but had vivid memories and dreams of the entire interior. I’ve been wanting to photograph it for years. Once, a few summers ago, I tried to enter, but the doors were locked, nobody answered the doorbell, and I never tried again. My son recently organized a film festival for young, local filmmakers that serendipitously took place inside my old church, so I seized the opportunity to explore and photograph it while he was in a meeting.

I was so excited to finally go inside after 40 years and was in my glory photographing my memories, including the brass banister on the stairs when you walk through the interior set of doors, the old choir room, the stained glass windows – all as I remembered them – and locating the various rooms, including the unassuming door in a corner that led to the Sunday School rooms down in the basement.

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The space that was most radically different was the nave and sanctuary upstairs because all the pews had been removed, along with the entire chancel, including the resplendent pipes of the pipe organ. But it still smelled exactly the same. It was blissful to be alone in the former worship space as the late afternoon sun streamed in through the stained glass windows.

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Prior to going inside the church, I expressed my excitement to a friend who also attended that church during our childhood. He was surprised I’d never been inside before and said he had attended a number of events there. Truth is, after returning to my hometown in my mid-30s, I was busy raising my children, was always on a tight budget, and didn’t get out much. I tried to go inside once, and because the door was locked, I assumed it was generally inaccessible.

However, when I left the church at the end of my son’s meeting and the following day at the conclusion of the film festival, the door remained unlocked. People were coming in for dance classes and other events. It was an active venue with doors that were not always locked.

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The reality is that I tried to open the door once, and it was locked. And then I didn’t try again. Is that a great metaphor or what?

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In recent months, I’ve been unearthing and releasing some deeply held beliefs and conditioning regarding money and entrepreneurship because it is time to make some changes rather than continue to repeat the same patterns that have not served me in the past. In the grand scheme of things, money is just another form of energy that shouldn’t be so weighty and intimidating. However, financial prosperity is something I have been passive about until now. It was a door I knocked on, but when nobody answered, I just moved on, believing it was locked and inaccessible, and I did not have permission to enter.

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But now I have become curious. What if I were to find out at the end of my life that the door was unlocked the whole time, and I only assumed it was locked and lived my entire life as if that were the case – and never turned the doorknob? Or perhaps I tried just once and found it locked and assumed that was always the case, so why bother trying again? Well, there is a voice inside me now urging me to turn the doorknob and find out what’s inside the rooms I had considered off-limits. In other words, what is on the other side of fear?

That is the metaphor I take away from the church experience. Our circumstances aren’t what block us. Our assumptions about our circumstances and ourselves in relationship to them are what block us. What might we accomplish if we adjust our mindset and beliefs, become more adventurous, and empower ourselves to do something different this time – and actually turn the doorknob of the room we hadn’t felt worthy of entering in the past, instead of retreating to the familiar spaces?

It’s like failing to notice the waterfall on the street I once lived on because I never turned my head just a little more to one side. I can’t help but wonder: What are we missing out on by not doing something different? What kind of new shoots can we push up this year by challenging our assumptions and being a little more curious and adventurous? With nature as my mirror and guide, I believe it’s time to find out!

(Hmm…shoots…what a fitting word for growing a photography business!)

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The photographs in this blog (except for those attributed to other owners) and in my Flickr photostream are available for purchase as prints or cards through my Etsy shop by selecting a “custom print” in whatever size you prefer and indicating either the name of the print or the blog post and order in which it appears.

© Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography, 2016. SHARING IS CARING, and I appreciate my work being shared with others! Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography (river-bliss.com). Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, including all text and photos, without express and written permission from this website’s author/owner is strictly prohibited. In other words, I put my heart and soul into my writing and photography and want to be credited for it and have some traffic sent my way. It’s the high vibration thing to do!  🙂 

Where Love Sets a Table

I want to take this opportunity to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving if you celebrate. I also want to thank you for reading or subscribing to my blog and sharing this journey called life. I bare my heart and soul here in my writing while searching for metaphors in the natural world and trying to view personal challenges from a spiritual angle, in hopes that sharing my journey will be uplifting or insightful to you in some way. Mary Oliver wrote: “Instructions for living a life: Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.” It is advice I take seriously!

To be honest, I haven’t been feeling up to celebrating the holidays this year. It’s the second year without my mom, and holidays will never be the same. She died three and a half years after her own mom died, and the loss of the matriarchs has put a serious dent in holiday celebrations. Technically, I am now the matriarch, but I guess I haven’t been ready to embrace that role yet. Grief is still rather fresh, and our family is still trying to figure out how to pick up the pieces and move on. This includes where and with whom to celebrate, given the various complexities of family life when divorce, grief, and other dynamics are part of the picture.

But I suppose the bottom line is that everybody has their own version of stuff like this going on and that holidays with family can be a balancing act between what is comfortable, what is expected, and what is “right” (compassionate and wise). Ram Dass said, “If you think you are enlightened, go home for Thanksgiving.” Funny but true!

As I wandered in and out of blue this week contemplating the realities and logistics of the upcoming holidays, I caught the following words drifting through the air:

Go where you are invited. Cook for whoever shows up. Where love sets a table and invites you to eat, that’s where you belong. Go to the table that love has invited you to, and feast. Be grateful for what you have and for who shows up, and don’t let that gratitude be overshadowed by mourning who or what is missing. Arrive with something to share, but most of all, bring your best, most loving self.

Holiday logistics can get complicated, and the complications tend to get me down year after year. But I finally realized that what’s most important is to celebrate with your tribe, even if it must be done on a different day than the actual calendar holiday. If there are too many places people need to be, and you can’t fit a proper celebration into one day, then why not celebrate Thanksgiving on another day? That way, the love can flow without anyone feeling rushed, disappointed, resentful, or guilty about already being full from another meal. Sometimes you have to think outside the box to make room for the love that wants to flow in your life.

I also feel inspired to mention that it’s hard when the people you love aren’t around to celebrate with you because they are no longer of this world. But it can be even harder when loved ones who are still alive are absent, such as in the case of divorce, breakup, estrangement, illness, etc. If that is the case with you, please know that you’re not alone.

There may be people we really wish we could celebrate holidays with, but for whatever reason, it can’t happen at this time. A particular friend comes to mind who is going through excruciating heartache very similar to something I experienced years ago. I am wrapping this beautiful soul in as much love and light as I can muster.

Today is a day to for gratitude, and perhaps in time, we can even be grateful for the tough times and the challenging relationships that ultimately help us to grow our compassion, understanding, and wisdom and to be of greater service to others.

Although it saddens me that my beautiful friend is in such pain, I am grateful that my own experience allows me to be more present to her and to have faith that she will get through this difficult chapter with even more light to offer the world. As I struggle with my own personal issues that sometimes feel overwhelming, I remind myself that the hard work I’m doing now will allow me to be even more helpful to others in the future. I just have to choose to continue doing the work rather than throw in the towel when it comes to growing my soul. The work will get done because the part of me that wants to evolve is stronger than the part that is content to stay stuck. At some point, there will be resolution, empowerment, and no more tears. No matter what the personal outcomes will be, greater compassion for others is a certain payoff and one that is worth the work.

One thing I know is that when I think of others around the world who feel the same way, a portion of my sadness transforms into compassion, and I just want to radiate love and positive energy, hoping it will travel to them on a ripple in the energy field and ease their pain. So if you happen to be someone who is suffering, I hope you feel it. I’m giving an extra push in your direction!

Whether Thanksgiving is a joyous celebration or a trigger for unresolved issues resurfacing (or varying degrees of both), may we make room for the miracle of gratitude – for blessings large and small and for the table set by love and those who show up around it, whether literally or metaphorically. May we be fully present at the table we are invited to and to those who accept our invitation and company – for what matters most is where we are, rather than where we are not. On this day, may we focus on the abundant blessings and goodness in our lives, rather than on who or what is missing.

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The photographs in this blog (except for those attributed to other owners) and in my Flickr photostream are available for purchase as prints or cards through my Etsy shop by selecting a “custom print” in whatever size you prefer and indicating either the name of the print or the blog post and order in which it appears.

© Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, including all text and photos, without express and written permission from this website’s author/owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography (river-bliss.com) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

September Mist

After a late night canning, dehydrating, and otherwise processing another bushel (my fourth this month) of freshly harvested vegetables, I needed to sleep in this morning! However, the street noise prevented that from happening. After trying for a while, I finally gave up and opened my eyes, knowing it would be irresistible.

And it was. It was downright amazing.

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It was an Oh. My. God sunrise (uttered with the utmost reverence).

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And to make it even more astonishing, a low-flying bald eagle flew right over me as I stood on the dock in awe of the misty, colorful landscape that surrounded me.

I am in the process of generating a list of monthly themes for a forthcoming book that has been in the works for quite some time. Here in the Northeast, September is rich in visual and spiritual themes to appreciate and contemplate, and the morning mist is certainly one of them. Though it covers a portion of the landscape, it also reveals the brilliant and otherwise largely invisible designs of spider webs. The mist fascinates me every September.

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When I came back inside after experiencing the extraordinary sunrise on the river, my son was getting ready for school, and I beseeched him to stop what he’s doing and go outside NOW. I told him he needed to stand on the dock and be surrounded by the mist. Although he didn’t get caught up in my sense of urgency, he did make it outside a few minutes later. From inside the house, I watched him take it all in and felt he was possibly learning the most important lesson he’d learn all day: How to stop, tune in, and experience the grandeur of the natural world. How to fill up with the light of the sunrise. How to notice and appreciate the simple and magnificent moments of life.

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A few afternoons ago, I gave him a ride to his dad’s house and noticed an adjacent field glowing pink from some kind of grass that accents the September landscape. I admired it and told my son I wanted to photograph it. He replied, saying it’s incredible in the morning, when it looks like a blanket of clouds covering the ground in the morning mist.

I returned the next morning to experience it myself. It was a dreamy and captivating sight. I was grateful that my son shared his observation with me.

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And I was even more grateful that he noticed in the first place. Actually, he admitted later that his girlfriend was the one who noticed it first. But it must have made an impression on him, and that is the whole point.

It’s a blessing when someone awakens us to beauty we wouldn’t have known about or noticed otherwise. Sometimes we need others to open our eyes to the artistry and magnificence of the world around us, that we ourselves are part of. I believe that anything that enriches and inspires us helps us to water and grow the God-seed planted in us. And I have a feeling that expanding that part of our self and the universe is what it’s ultimately all about.

May you have a blessed week!

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The photographs in this blog (except for those attributed to other owners) and in my Flickr photostream are available for purchase as prints or cards through my Etsy shop by selecting a “custom print” in whatever size you prefer and indicating either the name of the print or the blog post and order in which it appears.

© Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, including all text and photos, without express and written permission from this website’s author/owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography (river-bliss.com) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.