mindful moments

seeing songbirds // is it a sign?

by eringoodman on December 10, 2016

in grief and loss, mindful moments, nature

Birds nest

 

Yesterday on the way to school, my children and I had a soft, meandering conversation about Angels and the concept of “seeing signs.”

We talked about how some people believe that the Spirit world communicates with us through little synchronicities that feel too magical to be random. And some people do not believe this.

Neither perception is right or wrong. They are just different.

In my 42 years on this beautiful Earth, I have had seasons of holding each belief, and seasons where everything felt so confusing that I really didn’t know what I believed.

A few weeks ago someone special, whose guidance I trust and actively seek, told me she felt my Nana, who passed this spring, was sending her love and blessings to me through songbirds.

Whether or not this is “true” almost doesn’t matter to me.

Since that day I have been having a joy-filled game of hide-and-seek with my Nana.

And I love that, in the middle of running everyday errands, a simple sight like this stops me in my tracks, opens my heart, and helps me feel connected to her.

_____________

Are you grieving this holiday season as my family and I are? Last month I recorded an interview with my friend and ministry mentor, Rev. Sue Koehler-Arsenault on Grief, Loss and Getting Through the Holidays. You can watch it HERE. Much love to you. ~Rev. Erin

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{Cousins canoeing. A special moment from this weekend.}

My mom begins each day by praying the Rosary and reading scripture-based meditations.

On days when I am not racing out the door to work, she often reads me an excerpt that has really spoken to her, and we gently discuss how it applies in our lives as we sip our coffee.

As she reads, I do my best not to get hung up on language that may not feel comfortable for me and listen beneath the words for the underlying lessons and universal truths.

It is a beautiful morning ritual that I treasure deeply.

Today she shared the following passage that really spoke to both of us:

“We can know something about God when we pay attention to his presence deep within ourselves. We can also know something about him by paying attention to the people and things outside of ourselves. God is fully present at every moment in everything he has made….Some years ago, I read about a bumper sticker printed with these words: ‘Having a wonderful time. Wish I were here!’ It made me laugh, but I later thought, ‘How sad!’ How much we miss when we don’t notice the goodness of the people and the environment that surrounds us. How much we miss of God’s presence that shines through everything he has made.’

(From Living Faith, Daily Catholic Devotions)

That line — “Having a wonderful time. Wish I were here!” — really stuck with me as I moved through my day.

How often are all of us guilty of going through the motions and checking things off our long to-do lists without really being present to those around us, the very people we love most.

I find that simply closing my eyes, taking a deep centering breath and asking to see the world through the eyes of God (Spirit…Love…Source…) is one practice that really helps me to be more present. Having a few minutes alone every day to write and reflect also helps me too.

* * * * *

How about you? What helps you to be truly present to those you love and the beauty of the world around you?

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Taking a break from my unplanned but deeply needed blog break to share some thoughts on fall foliage, Google and the importance of human connection . . .

As I rode my bike around in the late afternoon sunlight, flickers of red kept catching my eye. Vines weaving and meandering their way up the trees, looking beautiful and festive as they climbed.

“What are these beauties?” I thought as I rode.

Eventually I was so enchanted that I decided to pause my ride and take a photo and as I did, I inspected the blazing red foliage a little more closely.

Three leaves. Huh.

Wrapping around a tree. Hmm.

Could this beautiful vine be poison ivy?

I paused for a moment knowing I could easily Google “Does poison ivy turn red in the fall?” on my iPhone, which I had just used as a camera, and have an answer in a matter of seconds.

But then I thought of my friends Jayne and Jeanine, my cousin Dan, my Auntie Linda and Uncle Bill and others who I knew would know the answer to my question and I realized that I didn’t want to Google it.

I wanted to ask someone. And have an actual conversation about poison ivy and beautiful fall foliage and the unseasonably warm weather we’ve been having here in Southern New England — ideally over a glass of wine or a cup of tea.

I wanted connection as much (or more!) than I wanted a quick answer to my question.

It’s so easy to get information and fast answers in our world. Genuine human connection, on the other hand, seems to be harder and harder to find.

Realizing clearly that I wanted the latter much more than the former, I decided to wait and got back on my bike to ride home.

* * *

A few days later I was in the car with my mom when again the bright red leaves caught my attention.

“Oh yay! Here’s my chance,” I thought, posing the question to her.

“Hey, do you happen to know if poison ivy turns bright red in the fall?”

She pursed her lips and thought for a second.

“You know I’m not sure,” she responded, reaching for her iPad, “but I can Google it.”

And this time, while sharing time and space with someone I love deeply, who read to me from wikiHow that yes, in fact poison ivy does turn a beautiful shade of red in the fall, it felt just right.

* * * * *

Thank you very much for your kind notes and Facebook messages. I apologize that I have not been able to respond to everyone individually. I did not intend to be away from my blog for so long, but as I said above, I truly needed the time offline. I’m happy to be dipping my toes  back in online, while still staying conscious of the needs I have in the here and now. (In other words, I’ll pop in here when I can, and write from my heart when I am inspired and have the space to do so.) Happy fall, friends. XO ~Erin

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“Can you come watch me swim today?” he asks.

“Oh Sweetie, I wish I could but I have to work,” I respond, hearing the echo of my words from last week.

Next week, I tell myself as I walk to my car. Next week.

When next week comes, I am no less busy.

There are still meetings to attend and phone calls to make and e-mails to return (and holiday shopping to do) but in my heart I know I must carve out time to sit in the bleachers by the pool.

He spots me the second I arrive.

I watch his whole body smile.

And I am (once again) reminded that showing up for those we love is the very best gift we can give.

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finding inner stillness

by eringoodman on November 21, 2011

in mindful moments, self-care

This post originally appeared on my blog in February, 2009. Thankfully a friend recently reminded me about it, which was perfect timing as we move into the holiday season where little pockets of stillness and peace can sometimes be challenging to find.

* * * * *

I’ve long had a dream of converting the top of our barn into a yoga and writing studio. And from time to time, I’ve used the lack of this beautiful, sacred, serene space as an excuse for why I’m perhaps (occasionally) somewhat less than the calm, peaceful yoga-mama I like to think I am.

Luckily, I have amazing live-in teachers to help remind me that peace and stillness and even yoga poses, can happen anywhere!

This was the scene at our house one morning a couple of weeks ago. (Actually, this is a “dramatic reenactment” of the scene, something we Goodmans love to do!)

This was the conversation:

Me: What are you doing on the table, Sweetie?

Quinn: I just doin’ my yoga, Mama. My tummy was a little ouchie. Child pose helps me to feel better.

Me: Why are you on the table?

Quinn: There was no room on the floor.

I don’t know if the state of clutter in our living room translates in this picture, but trust me, he was not kidding. There was not a clear surface to be found in the whole room – except a small corner of the table – where my flexible little yogi found stillness and peace.

Wishing you a peaceful Monday!

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