Pause, Rest, and Take a Deep Breath

Thank you for clicking through and reading my posts.

Words and photos, carefully chosen with you in mind.

In a world full of uncertainty, rush, and strife

I want your brief time in my digital space

to enrich and nourish your life.

An inspired space to pause, rest, and take a deep breath.

For just a moment, before you are on your way.

While here, glance at a tree, a stream, or the setting sun.

Nothing new, you’ve seen these things before.

And yet, inspiring images that remind us

we are sharing this miraculous world – our planet of one.

So, before you click through

and move along with your day,

I once again, say Thank You

for stopping by and for sharing this space.

If you know someone whose week was long

giving them no chance to pause.

Please pass this post along

and encourage them to rest.

The hurry in life will find them again,

but for now, remind them to slow down

and take a deep breath.

I am wrapping up Story #33 in my 50 Life Stories collection. Seventeen more to go! My original goal was to complete my 50th story by the week of Thanksgiving. That clearly did not happen, since Thanksgiving just passed. However, I continue making progress and I am staying faithful to my first priority, which was to give each story the attention it deserves. Story #32 was about our adventure traveling on the Road to Hana along the eastern side of Maui. For those not familiar, the Road to Hana is a legendary road that takes travelers through lush rainforests, and past waterfalls, plunging pools, and historic sites. The road also requires caution because it contains 620 curves, 59 bridges (old and rickety), and is a one-lane road in several locations. We had quite an adventure that day and I enjoyed reliving the experience on the page. Writing about the turns and steep cliffs made me almost as queasy as being there.

I updated my Featured Poetry page. My most recent featured poem was inspired after reading an article about the homeless living in Tucson, Arizona. During a week when many Americans are focused on what we are thankful for, including our favorite foods, there are also those among us who are lost, lonely, hungry, and cast aside. Fortunately, this is also the time of year when many people reach out and lend a hand to those in need. My poem was written to remember the hungry and lost walking among us and as a reminder, to myself, to be one of those people who helps, rather than looks away.

If you are receiving my blog through email, thank you for taking the time to follow my blog. For optimum viewing, consider going directly to the web @ https://myinspiredlife.org/blog-feed/ for each post. However you choose to look at my posts and pictures, thank you! Have an inspired weekend! Michele

Picture 1: Pausing my pedaling to enjoy the view – Seawall, Vancouver, BC. Picture 2: Patagonia Lake State Park – Nogales, Arizona Picture 3: Arizona sunset – San Tan Valley, Arizona Picture 4: Japanese Friendship Garden – Phoenix, Arizona Picture 5: Kula Botanical Garden – Maui, Hawaii Picture 6: Me on Roosevelt Row – Phoenix, Arizona

© 2019 Michele Lee Sefton. All Rights Reserved.

Nonstop Rain, the Mighty Rogue River, and a Swimming Bald Eagle

Relentless rain transformed the park near my home into a lake.

I haven’t left my city all week and yet I feel as though I have been transported to another location, as I have watched the dry Sonoran Desert turn into an expansive wet landscape. A magical transformation, that has also been treacherous for many, with streets and homes flooding. The greater Phoenix area just saw three days of relentless rain. Quite a change for us considering we haven’t had significant rain in 270 days. Our 72-hour downpour that, in some places, delivered six months of our annual rainfall (average 4-8 inches), now feels like a distant memory with the sun drying streets, yards, and parks.

I enjoyed every drop of it. Maybe I can, because it is such a rare occurrence for us living in the Southwest. While out taking photos of our neighborhood park that was transformed into a lake, I closed my eyes and for a moment I imagined that I was in Oregon, walking through my daughter’s neighborhood and enjoying the cool breeze, an abundance of water, and the fresh crisp air that was enveloping me.

Feeling as though I had been transported to the Pacific Northwest, I was reminded of another magical misty moment that occurred when we were traveling seventy-five miles down the mighty Rogue River. My family and I spent the day on a speed boat tour. We saw some sights that can only be experienced in the wild and a few that we may never stumble upon again. Our knowledgeable captain and guide educated us on the history of the river and the wildlife in the area – life found in the river, on the land, and in the air. We saw osprey and bald eagle nests, deer swimming to the opposite shore, breathtaking channels, and whitewater rafters and kayakers.

Many wonders to behold in all directions, but two sightings captivated us, and they revealed the incredible natural cycle of life in the wild. The first sighting happened traveling downstream. Our captain noticed something odd floating near the shore. He slowed the jets and moved closer to the bobbing object. Closeness revealed both the size and identity of the object. The object was a deceased bald eagle that was floating with its fierce face pointing down and its massive wings stretched and lifeless. A sad moan rippled through the passengers as each realized what our captain had found. I did not take pictures. My response was to mourn, not take pictures of the loss of this magnificent creature. We waited by the shore while our captain radioed his findings to the Oregon Fish and Wildlife officials. Following protocol, the feathered creature would be examined to determine the cause of death, which hopefully did not involve intentional harm. Eventually we left the eagle, and continued downriver, bringing some sadness with us, and an appreciation for the fragile existence of those living in the wild.

Our second memorable sighting happened on our return voyage, travelling upstream. Once again, our observant captain noticed something floating in the water, and once again he slowed his jets to not frighten what lay in the distance. The object was another bald eagle, except this eagle was fully alive. It was swimming! Every passenger jumped up and ran to the edge of the boat to catch a glimpse of the swimming eagle. We watched in awe as the animal looked back at us and then carried on with its business, which was to bring its prey out of the water. The scene unfolded quickly, but I managed to capture some video that you can view below (scroll to bottom of blog for four videos). The captain told us that the bird would swim to the shore, eat, and then after drying off its wings, which might take some time, fly away. The captain was right on all accounts, except for the, taking some time to dry off its wings, comment. The eagle flew off quickly, leaving us unprepared to capture the moment, but it was glorious all the same, because the memory of that moment is etched in my mind.  

Bald eagle drying its wings. Sadly a plastic cup sits behind.

Balcony View Above the Rogue River

Flowing water below, streaming cars above.

Permeable liquid and solid steel,

both flowing fast and changing with each glance.

One shares union with divinity and carries secrets from the past.

The other was forged with modern hands and unlike the timeless river, will not last.

Diamond jewels appear along the crest, then twinkle and vanish.

Ancient rocks below are not moving, but changing all the same.

A verdant duck glides close to the water’s surface,

its evolved eyes searching and skimming.

A butterfly descends in an effortless tumble, guided by the invisible wind.

The arms of trees reach for each other, waving to the giver-of-life below.

The trees speak in a language that only the quiet among us can truly know.

The cool breeze carries seeds, leaves, and stories from the ages.

A moment suspended above The Mighty Rogue River,

offers a glimpse into the unceasing flow of creation.

Thank you to the life-giver and soul-nourisher – water. Thank you for giving us life and for enriching our lives.

I hope that my Saturday posts bring you a spark of inspiration at the end of your week and the beginning of your weekend, or whenever you choose to read my words. As I write this post, late Friday afternoon, I am so grateful to do so. I am wrapping up a week of annoying and frustrating life stuff, nothing serious, but the type of scenarios that make you want to pull your hair out, scream, punch, or all of the above. I am grateful that the week’s frustrations were resolved yesterday evening and now, what a blessing it is to take a moment and focus on that which inspires me, lifts me up, and brings me joy. It is my desire that some, or all of that extends to you.  

Photo taken at Kartchner Caverns State Park 20-year anniversary (11/16)

If you are reading my words early Saturday morning (MST), I will be beating the sunrise and climbing Sunrise Mountain while working as a trail host at the Copper Hills “4 Peak Challenge” Hike (#CH4Peak). Please send me and the hikers and trail runners good vibes as we make our way up the mountain.

If you are receiving my blog through email, thank you for taking the time to follow my blog. For optimum viewing, consider going directly to the web @ https://myinspiredlife.org/blog-feed/ for each post. However you choose to look at my posts and pictures, thank you! Have an inspired weekend! Michele

Hawaii interview update: The inspiring family of five who recently moved to Hawaii are very busy getting settled and, well, being a family of five. I hope to complete their interview and story soon.

© 2019 Michele Lee Sefton. All Rights Reserved.

Only So Many Days

Life sometimes delivers a diversion

from what currently is and reveals all that can be.

That is exactly what happened to me.

I was walking a familiar path that had become stagnant and uninspired.  

Looking

for

the

light,

I found only fragments of the sun’s rays here and there.

I kept walking, accepting that this was my fate,

but quietly praying that I would find my way.

That I could find the courage to run

toward

the

light,

that radiates promise, hope, and wonder.

My dreams were dwindling with each setting of the sun.

Then life took care of what I could not.

It forced me to confront personal loss.

My heart exposed; my soul reclaimed.

I was reminded that I am given

only so many days.

We are each given

only so many days.

Only so many days-

To pause on our well-worn path, look up, and wonder.

Only so many days-

To find a gap in the dark and run toward the light.

Only so many days-

To nurture our own dreams, like we do those of others.

Only so many days-

To greet our fears like a harmless stranger –

look her in the eye, extend a firm hand, and say hello.

Only so many days-

To be surprised by what we can dream up, act on, and accomplish.

Only so many days-

To create our own path and be our own hero.

Only so many days-

To be the incredible you; the only you there is.

Don’t let your hope dwindle.

Don’t let your dreams go dark.

Look for an opening, find

the

ray

of

light.

Toward the ray, find the courage to run.

A ray, that might begin as only one.

A ray, that will expand,  

and in time,

 surround you

with love.

50 Life Stories update:  I am currently working on Story #32. I lingered on Story #29 for a bit, because it was such an important story to tell and I needed to relive and move through intense moments and emotions. Story #29 centers around my experience fleeing from a fire in the Black Forest near Colorado Springs in the summer of 2013. Many lives were changed that day, especially the many families who lost homes, and sadly, lives were also lost. I have completed the story and shared the story with a few friends close to the situation. The story has evoked some tears, but it seems to have also delivered more healing surrounding the situation. For that, I am grateful.

When working on the final draft of Story #29, which included adding pictures from my week in Colorado, I had a serendipitous moment that told me I was absolutely on track with my writing purpose that day.

This is what happened, leaving me surprised and speechless:

I had just written out my writing goals for the day, which included completing the Black Forest Fire story. I then opened my FB account to search for a picture, and staring back at me was a picture of me and one of the main characters from Story #29-a lady I met a few days before the fire, and one I formed a special bond with, after fleeing from the fire together. Apparently, six years prior to the day of my writing, I had posted a picture of the two of us, that was taken at the airport, just before I flew home to Phoenix. In the post I told her I missed her. I posted the picture of the two of us five months after leaving Colorado. I had forgotten about the post, and I certainly had not intended on writing our story exactly six years later (or at all). Seeing the picture of the two of us confirmed I was doing exactly what I needed to be doing on the exact day I needed to do it. Special gift of synchrodestiny.  

Preview of upcoming interview: I am in the process of interviewing an inspiring family of five who recently left the security of living and working in Arizona to make a bold move to Hawaii. I look forward to sharing more about their journey, which to many, including myself, sounds like paradise. However, like all major moves, it hasn’t been without its challenges.

If you are receiving my blog through email, thank you for taking the time to follow my blog. For optimum viewing, consider going directly to the web @ https://myinspiredlife.org/blog-feed/ for each post. However you choose to look at my posts and pictures, thank you, the only you there is!

Have an inspired weekend! Michele

Picture 1: Sea Lion Cave, Florence, Oregon. An opening that revealed the ocean below and took my breath away. Picture 2: Sunflowers in my backyard Picture 3: Arizona sunset Picture 4: Me in Cottonwood, Arizona @ Dead Horse Ranch State Park Picture 5: Me at the Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix, Arizona

© 2019 Michele Lee Sefton. All Rights Reserved.

Making More Space for Hellos

My intentional change journey involves taking steps to live my best life, now. An important aspect of this process is releasing possessions, thoughts, memories, relationships, and routines that do not support me on this path. Writing and sharing allows me to clear my crowded closets and frees up valuable space. My poem, letter, or whatever label you would like to give it, lists a few farewells. Glance at them quickly, for they are leaving; I am letting them go. Thank you and hello.

I encourage you to take some time, to write your own “Farewell/Hello” list. Who or what do you feel compelled to say farewell to? So that you can make more space for hellos. Write your list. Then share it, shred it, burn it, mail it, or … whatever (helpful) release feels right to you.

Farewells and Hellos

A poem. A letter. A list. Call it what you will.

To the teacher who told me to, “stand in the back row, to hide your full figure” before a group photo-

Farewell.

To the girls who talked behind my back when they had each other, and I stood alone-

Farewell.

To the college student who took credit for my writing and the professor who praised his work-

Farewell.

To the lady who chided me, when I confided that teaching high school may not be my path. “You need to figure out what you’re doing with your life,” she said.

Farewell.

To the people who mistake kindness for weakness-

Farewell.

To the fearful and burdened version of myself-

Farewell.

To the voice inside my head that whispers, “You can’t!” “You shouldn’t!” “What will they think?”

Farewell.

I no longer have room for you. You have been replaced.

With friends.

To the storytellers who give their words breath-

Hello.

To the fellow dreamers who know we should never stop exploring-

Hello.

To the artists whose creations make me pause and ponder-

Hello.

To the inspiring people who support me and shine the light-

Hello.

To my teachers, your belief and guidance leads the way-  

Hello.

To the daughter who taught me how to see the world through artist’s eyes and with an open soul-

Hello.

To the man who met me where I was, and alongside me, has walked the path of love.  

Hello.

I am making more space for you. I hope that you can stay.

My friends.

Preview of upcoming interview: I will soon be interviewing an inspiring family of five who recently left the security of living and working in Arizona to make a bold move to Hawaii. I look forward to learning more about their journey, which to many, including myself, sounds like paradise. However, I suspect it is not without its challenges.

Picture 1: Me in San Diego, CA Picture 2: My guy and my girl in Oregon (studying on the beach) and in Santa Cruz, CA (heading to a wedding ceremony in the woods) Picture 3: Me in Granville Island, BC

If you are receiving my blog through email, thank you for taking the time to follow my blog. For optimum viewing, consider going directly to the web @ https://myinspiredlife.org/blog-feed/ for each post. However you choose to look at my posts and pictures, thank you!

If you are going through a life change or know someone who is, I would love to learn more and possibly share your/their story on a weekly post. Please send me a note if interested.

Thank you and have an inspired weekend!

Michele

Hello!

© 2019 Michele Lee Sefton. All Rights Reserved.

Free Your Story

This week’s post comes to you in the form of verse. I was inspired to write the poem, “A Story Set Free,” after sharing space with several courageous truth/storytellers in Sandra Marinella’s, “The Story You Need to Tell” workshop. The poem also describes my “50 Life Stories” writing journey over the last two months. I have written stories that have made me smile and laugh and stories that have provoked tears and pain; several have done both. Reliving, writing, and releasing the stories to the page has been a freeing experience and one I would highly recommend.

My photos were taken over several dates, and before my photography class began seven weeks ago. I know what my photography teacher would say; I hope you enjoy them all the same. They feature Northern California, Southern Oregon, and one from a mountain trail in Peoria, Arizona.

A Story Set Free

A poem by Michele Lee Sefton

They whisper and wait,

the stories that exist inside of me.

I write about what once was,

to release them, to set them free.

Elusive details captured on a page.

My blank messenger conspires with me,

coaxing the story out of hiding,  

and snaring it for other eyes to see.

No longer is the story mine, I am setting it free.

No longer does the story have power over me.

The words and emotions transferred from

me to you and from you to them.

My story becomes your story,

because you understand where I’ve been.

My story released; my mind can now expand.

Cloudy perspectives and timeworn pathways,

no longer weigh me down or slow my pace.

An open mind now ready to explore new lands.

No longer is the story mine, I am setting it free.

No longer does the story have power over me.

There once was a time when I told myself,

that silencing our stories gives us strength.

Not sharing our stories highlights courage

and defines how we conquer moving on.

I now know that lie was just a trapped story,

convincing me that it should stay hidden,

in the dark and under the bed.

“Sweep around me,” it said, “but don’t ever bend.”

A believer, I was, that a shared story

might spend too long dwelling on the past.

“Don’t look too closely,” it whispered,

“For I might provoke sadness, pain, or regret.”

I now know the truth about the stories,

hiding in the crevices of my mind:

walking with the shadows is uncomfortable,

but it is there where freedom is found.

No longer is the story mine, I am setting it free.

No longer does the story have power over me.

Sandra Marinella is an Arizona author and veteran teacher who teaches workshops based on her book, The Story You Need to Tell. After a cancer diagnosis and the journey that followed, Sandra turned to her journals and writing as a way to manage her life-changing experience. Her personal healing journey extended to others and she has since helped thousands of people write their way through their own “trauma, illness, or loss.” Sandra’s book contains extensive research on the benefits of expressive writing, excerpts from her journals, and inspiring stories of others, including her students. For more information, or to order her book, visit http://www.storyyoutell.com.

If you are receiving my blog through email, thank you for taking the time to follow my blog, For optimum viewing, consider going directly to the web @ https://myinspiredlife.org/blog-feed/ for each post. However you choose to look at my posts, thank you!

If you are going through a life change or know someone who is, I would love to learn more and possibly share your/their story on a weekly post. Please send me a note if interested.

Thank you and have an inspired weekend!

Michele

© 2019 Michele Lee Sefton. All Rights Reserved.