The List That Became a Book

All of a sudden, it feels like summer here on the river! My walks have been so dreamy lately, with cottonwood seeds drifting through the air and landing on the ground in a sprawling, fluffy blanket. The black locust trees lining our back yard are in full bloom with fragrant, white flowers that perfume the air with their heavenly scent. And the fireflies have returned!

All this signals the end of another school year, so congratulations to my teacher and student friends! My son has been home from college for a few weeks, and we are preparing for some friends’ graduation parties next week. It’s exciting because my very first class of students graduates from high school this year. They were first graders when I was student teaching, and I can’t believe they are graduating!

Speaking of graduation season, I am excited to tell you about an extra special project I created just in time! It is a handcrafted book, 50 By 50, that contains 50 nuggets of wisdom I acquired by age 50 – but wish I had found sooner!

After publishing my list of “50 Things I’ve Learned by Age 50” as a blog post during the winter, someone approached me about turning the list into a poster for her teenage daughter, and it got the wheels turning in my head because it seemed like a perfect book project to dive into. So I revisited my original list, tweaked it a bit, typeset it, and turned it into a unique, handcrafted gift book. Each book is different because I painted the cover papers myself and sewed different kinds of bindings to make it one-of-a-kind. It is perfect for grads and anyone seeking insight and guidance along life’s path. I put my heart and soul into it and am really pleased with how it turned out.

The book began as a letter to my one-year-old granddaughter, which I’d been meaning to write since before she was born. Sometimes I’d sit down and begin to write, but I didn’t get very far. There was so much I wanted to say! It finally came together when I was on a spiritual retreat prior to my 50th birthday earlier this year. The book is full of advice and seeds of wisdom I’d like to plant in my granddaughter and wish I had back when I was in my twenties and trying to figure out which direction to go. Above all, it is a message of love and self-worth.

This little book is infused with so much positive energy! In addition to authoring the words when I was in a very peaceful, expansive state of mind, I painted the cover papers and sewed the text blocks and decorative stitching on the outside. Each handmade book is unique, and it’s available for purchase through my Etsy shop.

I just wanted to let you know in case you’d like a copy for yourself or someone special! I’d love to send one or more your way!


If you’re not doing so already, I invite you to follow me on Facebook and Instagram!


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, 2017. 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!  🙂

More Gratitude Than Grief

Although it’s hard to believe, three years ago today – Memorial Day 2014 – was my mom’s last day on earth. The last time the sun would set with life in her body. Of course, I miss her and think of her every single day. But I’ve also never felt closer to her. Although technically it has been three years since I’ve seen her or heard her voice, that’s really only true on some levels, for I see and hear her in my dreams from time to time, and her voice only grows stronger in my heart and mind. It’s actually quite astonishing.

Each time the earth returns to the place in its orbit around the sun where it was when my mom passed away, my body knows. It’s like traveling through a familiar belt of stardust. She died after lilac season and just as the irises were blooming. She didn’t live to see the roses in her garden bloom, but we did, and we were grateful she took the time to plant and nurture them with the same loving attention she gave to us.

Today, I am remembering but not feeling grief-stricken. More than anything else, I feel grateful for having a mother who was so warm and kind to everyone and who loved me so much. For having a mother who loves me so much and seems to have found a way to get through to me even though she no longer has a body that breathes and walks and loves and laughs and makes music here on earth.

One day last summer, I was sitting on a bench at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (where I feel her spirit strongly) feeling sad, and I heard her voice in my mind: Let it go. Let it go because it’s hurting you. You’re so wonderful. Now I can see you more completely and wish I could show you how beautiful you are – the amazing light that you are…because then you’d never be sad again.

I am so grateful for that voice that arises in my heart and speaks in my mind as if my heart and mind are one end of a cosmic telephone. That voice has been growing in me and helping me to heal and grow in ways I never could have imagined during the first, anguishing year without her.

My mother loved me so much, despite our differences. When she was alive, I was always giving her push-back because we saw the world so differently. Three years after she passed away, all I connect with now is her spiritual essence, which shone through more strongly as her body became weaker, and I gave up my role in the mother-daughter dance we had been doing my whole life and related to her as one spirit to another. I held her as she cried because she was nearing the end and was afraid her organs would eventually burst, and she was also afraid of upsetting my dad, who was not ready to let her go. I listened to her and assured her that what she was experiencing was normal (which I knew from my hospice experience and research) and that she and we would be okay. Although we loved her and would miss her, it was okay for her to move on. She liked it when I was with her and wanted me to be there as much as possible, and I’m so glad I had my priorities straight and took time off from work to be with her in her time of need, even though I had no idea how long it would go on. When my intuition told me I should take the day off from work to be with my mother or to care for myself so I could be stronger and more rested to care for her, I didn’t hesitate to call in sick. I am so grateful I did that. I knew it was time I could never get back and do over.

Three years ago tonight, when my dad was leaving the hospice house, he told her to hang on until morning, when he’d return. She was the one who took care of everyone, and she was hanging on for our sake. So I told him he needed to say goodbye and give her permission to go. Through some grace, I was able to get through to him, and he told her that he loves her, and it’s okay for her to let go. And a few hours later, she did, in the middle of the night with the adult child she worried about most sitting by her side.

May 27, 2014 was the first morning of my life I woke up motherless. It didn’t make sense that the sun could even rise.

When I reflect on May 2014, I think of being closer to my mom than I’d ever been and making her my priority. I remember keeping vases of fresh lilacs around her and dropping the role I’d played all my life to be truly present to her. I remember filling her hospice room with love and music and conversation around her bed with her bridesmaid from so many years ago who serendipitously found her just in time after not being in touch for decades and shared memories I otherwise would not have known about my mom during her early twenties. I remember doing everything I possibly could do to help my mom let go, even though I didn’t want to lose her.

May 2015 was actually even harder because I had gone a full year without her, and the realization hit hard that she wasn’t returning. I was also in so much emotional pain from grieving other losses that occurred throughout that year that I couldn’t imagine ever feeling good again. She was the one I would pick up the phone and call when I needed moral support, and she wasn’t there. The pain felt enormous, and I was weak from all that grief.

For the past year and a half, at the end of every month I reflect in my day planner on what dreams and goals came true, what lessons I learned, what I need to rant about, and what I’m grateful for. This month – May 2017 – there is not enough space for me to write about what I’ve learned and feel grateful for! To feel as whole, intact, and radiant as I do now is like a miracle.

Time is a healer, but healing is a choice, and how far you go is up to you. Every moment – and in some moments more than others – there is a choice between healing and habit. My experience has taught me that healing begins with mindfulness and an intention to feel good. When you pay attention to what’s going on inside of you, instead of fleeing from it or fixating on external stimulation of any kind, you become aware. When you are conscious of something, you can heal it – even if it really hurts and feels enormous, and you feel powerless against it. Over the past three years, I have learned that pain that big – grief that penetrates all the way down into your bones – isn’t as big as it seems because who you really are is SO MUCH BIGGER! I still feel sad or weak from time to time, but it arises along with a witnessing presence that allows the energy to be felt and expressed. Instead of identifying with the sadness, I allow it with the tender, loving presence a mother would give to a hurting child and realize it’s just a passing storm. The witnessing, unconditionally loving presence that I identify with is much bigger than the emotions – big enough to absorb them in what feels like a ginormous hug. It’s similar to how it feels to be on the seashore: uplifted and part of a rhythm and energy that is much larger than your small, separate self.

So here I am, on my mom’s third angelversary, immersed in gratitude for everyone and everything that has brought me to this point, and for my mother’s love, which has never left me and continues to grow by leaps and bounds in my loving heart and – miracle of all miracles – has replaced my Inner Critic with a nurturing Inner Mother that guides me to practice tender, loving self-care every day.

The past three years have been the most challenging journey of my life, but I’ve emerged from the depths of the forest of grief. From the perspective of my larger self, I know that all is well and that the journey served a purpose. It is the most amazing grace ever to be able to say this after everything I’ve experienced in the past few years. There is hope after loss.


If you’re not doing so already, I invite you to follow me on Facebook and Instagram!


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, 2017. 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!  🙂

I Choose to Shine

Today
I choose  to shine.
I wake up and think a positive thought
before opening my eyes,
ride that wave for a while
and choose another
then get out of bed
and make time for self-care
by drinking warm lemon water
and speaking loving words
into the mirror.
Then I take a walk and gather sunlight
before going to work
because today I choose to shine
one day at a time
because shining feels better
than shrinking.

Today I turn off my phone
and silence the voices of others
until I have connected with my Self
and can hear where love and soul
call me forward.
I choose to release what is not
in alignment with that
and to heal myself
for my own sake and so
I can be more helpful to others.

I open my ears to birdsong
and the beating of a great blue heron’s wings
as it lifts into the air.
I listen to my footsteps on the path
and inspiration — tune to that channel
and away from obsessive thoughts and worries,
naysayers and critics.
I open my eyes
to beads of dew on sunlit ferns
and goodness in the world around me.
I feel the cool morning air on my skin
and joy and hope and wonder
and gratitude — such gratitude
for even the smallest,
most wondrously ordinary things.
I taste my food
and the deliciousness of the moment
and smell spring and blooming
in the air.
I affirm that all is well in my world
no matter what is on my plate
or in the news
and know I can handle
whatever comes my way.

Today I make friends
with the present moment, Eternal Now
and make love in so many ways:
by listening closely,
offering a smile or kind gesture,
appreciating nature
and feeling my connection
with all living things.

Today I will not let anyone
dim my sparkle or snuff out my light.
I open myself to the blessings
that are trying to reach me
and attune to yes and love and light and spirit
and true intimacy.
I express what is in my heart
without holding back
because today I choose to shine.

No matter what transpired yesterday
today is a new day
and I choose to shine.

– Susan Meyer


If you’re not doing so already, I invite you to follow me on Facebook and Instagram!


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, 2017. 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!  🙂