Tag Archives: Books

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!  🙂

Blueprints and Dragonflies

I’m a little more than halfway through the book, Testimony of Light by Helen Greaves, which was recommended to me recently as an excellent text in the “near-death” genre. It is an authenticated account from the 1960s of two nuns who communicated telepathically while they were alive and continued to do so after one of them passed on. It resonates with the other books I’ve read in the genre, and I have been working my way through it by reading small chunks and allowing the ideas to settle in my mind when I’m kayaking or sleeping.

Sometimes I’m out on the water immersed in thought or some kind of pursuit (which often involves an elusive heron). Then I catch myself and am amused by the attempts of my little mind to make sense of the Big Picture – for I sense that the truth of our existence is beyond human comprehension. Our sensory organs and conditioned minds can only handle so much Light.

Today I set out looking for herons but fell in love with a small turtle basking in the sun. Then I returned to my pursuit of herons but dropped that agenda after a short time when I realized the “heron paparazzi” state of mind prevented me from entering stillness. Sometimes it’s grace that brings us back into presence (for instance, coming upon a turtle basking in the sun), and sometimes it’s awareness of mental activity (much like realizing within a dream that we are dreaming).

14734137141_472c4a7472_o

Then I rested in stillness, knowing there was nothing more important at that time than floating and filling with bliss. I wanted to stay there all day!

While floating, an idea from Testimony of Light entered my awareness regarding the existence of a Divine Blueprint for the work we set out to accomplish in our lifetime – and how it compares with the actual map of our human life when all is said and done. Every cell of my being seems to vibrate with a burning desire to attune to and follow my Divine Blueprint. I want to get down to business and do the work I intended to do. I’ve never felt it so strongly! Since returning from my recent retreat, the energy has been incredible! It’s blown open the door of my self-imposed prison and called, “Follow me!” And I am.

Still, I can’t help but wonder how far off course I’ve strayed by allowing myself to be driven by fear or a desire to please others. That method of traveling seems like taking a detour. Taking the long way home is not a failure. Nor is getting lost. There are times in life when we feel lost, especially when familiar markers are removed from the landscape of our journey. But what’s wonderful about realizing you’re lost is that you make an effort to dust off the map and find your way. Such times are opportunities to get back on course! Intuition is a useful navigational tool for realizing you’re lost and finding your way. It is my compass.

But perhaps in the grand scheme, the journey is more like a labyrinth with one winding path to the center. During times when we are driven by fear or other distractions, perhaps we just slow down and progress along the path in our own rhythm. Perhaps, despite periods of inertia, we’re never truly lost.

How interesting that when I entertained this thought, a dog came to the water’s edge and started barking at me. It reminded me of a story of a dog traveling to a particular town:

His journey was a very long one, taking two or three days as a rule, and yet he arrived before sunset of the same day. The dogs of that town were all surprised to see him so soon.

“Yes, it was a very long journey,” the dog said, “but I attribute my speed to the kindness and help of my fellow dogs. Since I left home, whenever I felt tired and tried to stop a moment to rest, four or five would run up and bark at me and want to bite me. So I had to run on without staying to rest in that place, or to search for food. And so it went on at every place I came to, until in the end I have arrived here at my destination.”

Citation: Khan, Hazrat Inayat (1991). Tales. New Lebanon, NY: Omega Publications.

As far as others are concerned, I can’t even begin to judge another human being’s path through life! It’s hard enough to discern and navigate my own!

There were so many dragonflies darting around on glistening, iridescent wings as I contemplated Divine Blueprints. So much life energy all around!

At one point, I experienced a moment of clarity from which a question – no, perhaps it was more like a prayer – bloomed like a lotus in my heart. And in that instant, a dragonfly landed on my arm for the first time all day. We remained completely still for quite some time regarding each other (or so it seemed), and I felt myself being drawn into dragonfly energy, as if it were the answer to my prayer, pollinating the lotus in my heart.

Then I felt it was time to paddle back home and engage with my to-do list. I focused on the sounds around me – a form of mindfulness meditation – and followed the sound back home.

But this wonderful energy remains, and I follow my intuition from one “yes” to another. It is an amazing feeling – this movement that has broken the spell of inertia.

Enter your email address:Delivered by FeedBurner

The photographs in this blog 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, 2014. 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 (www.river-bliss.com) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

A Journey of Music and Literature

I’ve been sharing some really personal stuff lately on this blog, and I want to be clear about my intentions – not because anyone has inquired but because I feel the need to do so. Sharing my experience with my mom’s illness is not something I do out of narcissism. I’m not trying to set myself apart from anyone else who has made this journey. Nor do I seek attention or praise, although I do hope that writing fearlessly from my heart may be comforting or helpful to others – perhaps even my own family members. In the words of author, Elizabeth Gilbert, it seems to be what “Love is calling forth” from me now. Some insist it takes courage to share such a personal journey, but you know what? Some people are fearful of revealing details of their personal lives or innermost thoughts. Others fear change or speaking in public. There are countless, diverse fears that plague humanity, and I think when we take risks in the direction of authenticity, we help others to push past their own boundaries and barriers. It is a way to build bridges, heal, connect. Several times in the past week or so, a voice has arisen and commanded: “Write!!” Each time, my eyes widened in surprise, and I nodded and responded, “Okay!” I almost felt pushed in the direction of my laptop. So I write, not knowing why – only that I must and that it feels right to share the parts that don’t violate the privacy of others. I thank you for coming along for the ride.

It feels as if I’m in a sacred and tender place, and I still wish I could retreat to a cabin in the woods for a while and distance myself from many of my responsibilities. People often say it’s good to keep busy during times like this, to keep your mind occupied. They say having a routine to escape into is a blessing, for it makes everything else go away for a little while. But that is not true for me. I have a need to dive in and experience it fully, much like when I refused to take pain meds during childbirth. I wanted to be fully present to the miracle of a new universe (two, actually) being born through me and to experience it as intimately and completely as possible. I did not want to medicate the experience in order to dull the pain! I wanted to experience my own power and learn to surrender to the intense, raging contractions. And I’m not saying my way is ultimately any better than “taking the drugs.” It’s just my way; it’s what I needed to do. And I think it was good training.

Each person in my orbit seems to be dealing with my mom’s illness differently, in his or her own manner and rhythm. It feels strange and frustrating to brush up against the edges of another person’s fears, preconceptions, and limits. When I was kayaking on the calm river yesterday evening, I was completely alone except for some geese beating their wings against the surface of the river (a sound I love) and the first beavers I have seen this year. Although the beavers seemed less territorial than usual as I glided past, I was impressed by the power of the two tail slaps I witnessed. They spoke to me of clear boundaries and respecting the boundaries of others. I have to keep centering myself in love and compassion so I can honor and respect each person’s unique journey – and to remember that, even if we have different opinions about how to proceed, we are all united by our love for my mom. 

Maybe all my responsibilities keep me grounded, but I don’t want gravity to keep my feet on the ground! I feel so supported by extraordinary energy that I sense most clearly when I am in nature, in the place between sleep and wakefulness, when I feel sad, and when I am alone and quiet. I have been craving solitude so I can perceive this energy more strongly and put this earthly experience into a larger context. I want to float.

Some people close to me have trouble knowing what to do or say. I especially appreciate the music people send my way. In general, music, art, and nature have more of an impression on me than logic and rational thought, or even words in general. But that’s just me. I honor the truths that sustain the lives of others. Some people need religion like plants need sunlight. Some need spirituality. Some need neither. It’s all fine to me. It’s hard – and would seem foolish – to argue with a painting or a symphony. Words are trickier, more jagged. But when someone offers me a scripture, for example, I accept it as a gift, even if it’s from a source from which I don’t tend to seek guidance, inspiration, or comfort. It does not matter how the religious context of the words relates to my beliefs (which are constantly expanding). When words are offered in the spirit of love, they become vessels of love.

Our fears, religious/spiritual beliefs, the way we grieve and give birth – along with myriad other aspects of the human condition – are so personal and diverse and deserve to be honored. That being said, in addition to listening to music, I have been doing more reading than usual, almost exclusively from what I call the “near-death” genre. In chronological order, I have read:

Each of these books has been a most illuminating companion on this journey, and I recommend each one enthusiastically if you are receptive to ideas and experiences beyond the ordinary. (Interested skeptics might want to begin with Proof of Heaven.) Each book resonates strongly with my own impressions and experiences, fills me with hope, and has brought tears of joy to my eyes by placing the human experience within a much larger perspective. Each of the books emphasizes that unconditional love is at the heart of the universe, which is something I find easy to believe perhaps because I was raised by such gentle, loving parents.

I have been strongly in touch with music since my mom’s diagnosis and would like to share some of the music that I have found particularly significant and uplifting in recent weeks. The first two classical pieces feel celestial and divinely inspired and were mentioned specifically in The Afterlife of Billy Fingers as hints of sound experiences in other realms.

The first one is the finale of Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 in E flat (Chorus Mysticus) depicting the closing scene of Goethe’s Faust epic, when Faust is welcomed into heaven. (I find the visuals of the “conductor” highly distracting and suggest closing your eyes once that part begins and letting the music fill you.)


Email subscribers: Click HERE to view video.

The following tone poem, The Swan of Tuonela, composed by Jean Sibelius provides another hint of “cosmic sound,” as described by Billy Fingers.


Email subscribers: Click HERE to view video.

And then there are some more contemporary songs friends have sent my way that contribute to the soundtrack of this leg of the journey:


Email subscribers: Click HERE to view video.


Email subscribers: Click HERE to view video.

Blogger is not allowing me to post more than four YouTube videos, but HERE is a link to another song that really grabbed me: “Let Her Go” by Passenger.

I’m sure there will be much more music as the path ahead unfolds. And art. And nature. And floating, I hope.

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

The photographs in this blog 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, 2014. 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 (www.river-bliss.com) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.