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So much for resolutions (and a throwback Thursday)

Sarah P. Duke Gardens, October 2022.

One thing I want to be cautious of – by which I really mean refuse – are the ways we sometimes consider, for instance, gardening (or health, or healthcare, or potable water or clean air or pleasant and stable housing or decent jobs or good schools or libraries or living relatives or being unabused or having ‘free time’ or not being imprisoned or not living near a power plant or incinerator or a landfill of a million acres of corn or soybeans sprayed with toxins) a privilege, which actually obscures the fact that to be without a garden, or to be without green space, or to be without access to a park or clean water or the forest or fruit trees or birdsong or shade or a deep and abiding relationship with a tree, or to be without healthcare, and so often to be without health, is violence, it is abnormal (even if it is the norm) and it is an imposition of precarity that is not natural. All these comorbidities, all these communities more exposed to toxins, all this absence of sick pay or good pay, every day, is not simply an affliction, (Oh too bad! You landed in Cancer Alley! Or, Oh, bummer about those opioid deaths! Or, So unlucky about the lead in your water!) but an infliction. It is on purpose. And the withholding from some of the means of life, of which means there are plenty to go around, is a disprivilege.  Which is to say; life, though it is a gift, is not a privilege.

And rather than indulging in the virtue signalling that simply reifies or maybe even enjoys the guilt – guilt can be titillating, let’s admit that; bathing in it oneself or dumping it on others – of so-called privilege, rather than wading around in that little impotent cess-pool of hand-wringing regret, how about instead we figure out how to get rid of disprivilege, which we could do.

Part of which includes acknowledging that, baseline, we should all be able to get into a garden or a forest or an orchard if we want. It includes acknowledging that we should all have clean drinking water and good schools and excellent healthcare and safe housing. What would happen if we acknowledged that none of this is privilege, but rather it is as it should and could be? And what if we figured out, together, in a million different ways how to make it so? Or to say it another way: rather than cursing the darkness, what if we planted some seeds?

~ Ross Gay, Inciting Joy

Waterlilies and reflections.

It seems I missed a week already when it comes to my resolution to blog at least once a week throughout 2023.  Ah well.  That’s how it goes with resolutions.  There’s some comfort in knowing that I was right on time when it came to breaking the resolution.  Not that I need comfort.  I don’t take New Year’s resolutions too seriously.  It’s more or less something I try just to see if it works.


It has been a busy couple of weeks with new classes and planning for a trip this summer.  M and I are going to Scotland (he is giving a workshop at a conference in Glasgow).  We are thinking that while we’re over that way, maybe we should visit the continent (as they say).  We’re looking at a trip to Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.  Perhaps the Rick Steves’ tour as that might make things easier for us, but it’s possible we’ll do something on our own rather than with a formal tour group.

Just one.

To be honest, I’m not terribly excited about the trip.  Isn’t that awful?  I’ve been given this great opportunity and I’m less than enthused.  Covid-19 and the pandemic have made it difficult for me to “just get back out there” and pretend that all is well and/or normal.  I have been getting out more in the past several months, mostly because I feel like life is too short to sit here and wait for people to decide that 10,000-30,000 deaths per week might be too much.  I suppose that will happen when profits go down and there aren’t enough workers?  I don’t know.

Following a path to see where it leads.

In case you missed it, somewhere around the 9th or 10th of this month was the 3-year anniversary of the day a man in Wuhan, China became the first confirmed Covid-19 death.  It would have been easy to miss since it passed without much media fanfare or remarks.  Since that time (which I am defining as the beginning of this time), 6.7 million people have died.  The gap between how many are dying now — the wide abyss between 10,000 and 30,000 — is a result of decreased (to no) testing and decreased (to no) recording of the numbers.  Apparently we are in the We Don’t Want to Know phase.  I get that.  It’s easier that way.

It was a beautiful day in the gardens. It was also somewhat crowded so I’m not quite sure how I managed to get a few photos of the paths without people.

Ah, see.  This is one reason why I don’t write much anymore.  There is so much more to life than Covid and while I’m certainly doing my best to get on with it, I am well aware of how it lurks in the corners.  It’s not always in the corners, of course.  It is literally on my face when I’m wearing a mask as I grocery shop or ride a bus through a swamp on a tour or go through the lobby of a hotel or visit with someone who needs people to take extra precautions.  All of this comes out in my writing because nobody wants to talk about it anymore.  I need to put it somewhere and this is where it goes.  Into my journal.  Into my blog.  Into where I write.

There are other issues besides Covid, more than enough to go around.  Mass shootings and guns, the clown show in the House of Representatives, climate change, the war in Ukraine… Take your pick.  We are, for sure, living in interesting times.

Let’s go to the bridge and cross to the other side.

I think that’s why art has been so appealing lately.  I’ve been working on abstracts in the Soulful Abstract class with Laly Mille.  I can write and write, pour everything out on the blank page of my art journal, and then let paint and ink and collage and all kinds of other media explode over top of it.  If a word or two shows through, it’s usually a word that reminds me of just how much wonder there is in life.  Funny how that happens.  Serendipity.  Or maybe the universe shining through the messes I create with paint and ink and other media.

Off we go, to the other side.

Julie Gibbons, of Mandala Magic, has recently had a free mandala workshop that I participated in.  I really enjoyed learning to draw a mandala grid freehand without a compass or a ruler.  It was interesting to note how it reminded me of the yoga principles of sthira and sukha, strength and ease.  There was a foundation to it, a structure, and yet there was looseness, ease, freedom to it.  I’ve decided to join her Mandala Magic School and I’m looking forward to more playing around in circles.

These are some of the minis I did for one of the Soulful Abstracts lessons. We worked on a big one and then used a mat to look at and cut out the minis (to see what they would look like matted and framed). Pardon the old, ratty looking mat on the upper right. It was all I had on hand at the time in terms of the size I wanted.

The Yoga Sutras Book 2 class started this month, too.  It’s been very interesting and while I’d like to write more about it, I’m still absorbing what I’ve learned so far.  We’ve been talking a lot about patterns/habits, about obstacles and the causes of suffering (kleshas), about the way our perceptions/beliefs color our thoughts/minds, and about how yoga practices can bring about change (create new patterns).  Good stuff.

View from the bridge.

I think that’s about it from me on this beautiful, chilly Thursday in January.  Thank you so much for visiting with me and taking a short walk in the Sarah P. Duke Gardens in Durham, North Carolina.  That was only a beginning.  There is so much more to see.

Let’s meet out at the Point for sunset.  It’s scheduled for 5:19 PM.  It’s windy and cold.  Bundle up.  There are some lovely puffy clouds floating around.  Hopefully they will stick around to pick up some light and color when the sun sinks below the horizon.

Please be safe, be well, and take a little time to Just Be.

Leaving the bridge. Shall we go left or straight and up the steps?

A few of the 10,000 reasons to be happy:  3,066)  A reason to revisit our visit to Duke Gardens (way back in October of 2022).  3,067)  This beautiful, bright day.  We’ve had a lot of rain lately and it’s good to see the sun again.  3,068)  Fun with paint and ink and collage and all sorts of art journaling things.  3,069)  Lunch from a local seafood restaurant.  Yum!!  3,070)  Learning how to make a souffle.  M wanted one for his birthday breakfast so I made one for him.  It was so good and came out so well!

A moment of grace in the garden.


Robin is... too many things to list, but here is a start: an artist and writer; a photographer and saunterer; a daughter and sister and granddaughter; a friend, a partner, a wife, a mother, and a grandmother; a gardener, a great and imaginative cook, and the creator of wonderful sandwiches.

19 thoughts on “So much for resolutions (and a throwback Thursday)

  1. Your thoughts in so many areas here meshed with mine. The Covid conundrum (do I mask? do I hug my family who flew to see me? etc.) and your trip to Scotland and possibly other countries sounds wonderful, but I am waffling about a trip to Virginia, and other places I’m invited. So, I totally understand. And I LOVE your new abstract art. Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I understand your reluctance to be enthusiastic about a vacay that at one time would have thrilled you. I think we’ve been disappointed so much in the last few years that’s it’s difficult to rally enthusiasm. So many variables outside our control anymore. Maybe they always were but they didn’t register as such until March 2020.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Ally. I hadn’t thought about all the times we’ve had to cancel things (including the original trip to Scotland which was supposed to happen in 2020). I appreciate being able to look at my reluctance from another point of view. 🙂


  3. I love the photos of the Sarah B. Duke gardens. A friend of mine was there in the fall and loved it. As for Covid, it is going to leave us with a certain amount of paranoia. If I was going to Scotland, I’d go up the west coast, hop over to Jura, stay at Arlussa House and drink a bit of their gin, then head up to Loch Fyne and Oban. Beautiful beautiful country and if you wanted to go far enough north, you could visit Inverewe Gardens. Heaven.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Lisa. 🙂 Great suggestions. I’ve been to Scotland, long ago, and we drove about 900 miles around the entire country, seeing east and west coast. We stayed in Oban with plans to spend time on the Isle of Mull but someone talked us into leaving Mull and going on to Iona so we didn’t really see much of it. Scotland is indeed heaven. 🙂


  4. As always, so much to ponder about in your post. The Ross Gay quotation hit the nail on the piton as we Franco-Americans would say. Lovely abstract art. And those pictures! Such a garden! Adapting to life with COVID has been quite a journey. Grateful to live in a country where vaccines and treatment are available. But this brings us back to Ross Gay, doesn’t it? Everybody on this planet should have access to such treatment. Always look forward to your posts, whenever they come.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Laurie. 🙂 I agree — and yes, it did bring things back around to that quote. I’m hoping future generations will be better at recognizing how interdependent we are and how lifting up others will lift us all up.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m happy to see the photos of that garden — all the green is soothing to my spirit — and hearing of your sunshiny day is fabulous. We’ve had day after day of cloudy, gray dreariness, and it really wears on you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We’ve had some dreary days here, too, Debbie. I thought for a while that we were never going to get out of the rainy and grey days but every now and then we get one of those bright, sunshine-y days and I forget all about the clouds. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I loved the quote…so much to think about in it, and in your post. I also love your art, and absolutely love these photos! I will go back and read it on a bigger screen. This was just a very thought packed post.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I totally understand your concerns and lack of enthusiasm about traveling (and doing other things). And for me, even without COVID, I would like to see places, but I really don’t like traveling. I want that transporter. 😏 After hearing about so many cases of COVID last week, we’re not really doing anything right now because we want to do some things next month. I guess, like many, just weighing risks and opportunities.
    And yes, so many other horrible things–but also, nature and art. 💙

    Liked by 1 person

Comments are delightful and always appreciated. I will respond when I can (life is keeping me busy!), and/or come around to visit you at your place soon. Thank you!

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