Contemplative Photography & Reflections

Category: Inner Space

Out of My Head

Out of My Head

This morning, I woke up feeling unsettled. Perhaps you can relate? For me, it was a combination of family concerns, feeling overbooked this week and trying to do too much, feeling the usual nervousness/excitement about the photo shoot I’d have later in the morning, and current events. Even though I don’t watch TV or have cable, I don’t live in a bubble, and there was no escaping the topsy-turvy energy in the air. We are deep in eclipse energy at this time, with the solar eclipse only a few days away, and the energy is palpable.

Normally, on the morning of a photo shoot I’d get up and pack up my gear before doing anything else – jump right into the day. But not this morning. I realized I was out of balance and too much in my head and needed to drop down into my body and senses and out of my thoughts. Before getting out of bed, I took a few moments to do a body scan and feel the energy of what Eckhart Tolle calls the inner body and noticed some tension. Shifting my awareness to what it felt like inside my body was a good first step to get me out of my head. It’s the difference between judging the tension as somehow not okay (i.e. there’s something wrong with me) and feeling compelled to do something about it vs. simply noticing, feeling, and allowing it. Yoga works wonders for that, too, and other physical activities, including taking a walk along the river or a beach. Not walking to get somewhere or to check off the exercise box but to experience the sound of the river flowing or the sensation of my feet touching the sand. Being in relationship…with my environment and my body. Not judging or trying…just experiencing. Expanding beyond the thoughts in my head.

Though I was tempted to start the day with yoga, the river was nice and calm, like glass, and I decided to go out in my kayak before doing anything else, while the morning air was still a bit cool. But since I had been dwelling so much in my head, I felt it was time to ramp up the self-care and packed a little breakfast picnic-for-one. I poured steaming, hot water into a travel mug and slipped a tea bag into it, pausing to consider what flavor tea I was really in the mood for rather than grabbing something out of habit. I also packed my favorite mug, for an extra special touch that would help to pull me out of my head and into delightful sensory impressions, such as how beautiful my mug was and how nice it felt in my hands. Then I paddled onto the calm river.

Immediately, I realized that in times like this, it helps to ground ourselves in presence and spaciousness, where peace presides. It doesn’t matter what is going on in the world or in our little corner of it, or what we feel compelled to do about it. Everything we do will be more effective if we first ground ourselves in spaciousness. 

I took out my phone to take a picture and saw that I had several social media notifications, but I had no desire to check them because I was on the river immersed in stillness and beauty, where nothing was missing. Beginning the day like this – with mindfulness and intention – makes a difference.

I arrived at my favorite place to float and stopped paddling. It was tea time! I heard the beating of wings but didn’t see a bird lift off around me. (If I were absorbed in thought, I probably wouldn’t have heard it.) A few still, quiet moments later, I heard the sound again and realized it was the beating of a dragonfly’s wings. The dragonfly zipped around my kayak and then landed on my right shoulder! That was a first! Dragonflies have landed on my kayak and stayed for a while, but not on me. It stayed on my shoulder for about five minutes!

I was not in my head at all during those five magical minutes. I experienced awe and noticed how the dragonfly’s wings shimmered with light. I felt connected with the dragonfly, completely in the moment and free from habitual thought and monkey-mind. Tears of joy streamed down my face. 

After the dragonfly flew off, I realized that in this moment, I am enough. I realized that’s always the case, even though I don’t always remember it. Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in being busy and getting things done, checking emails and social media, and you have to stop and pause to cut through all the layers of busy-ness and remember that you’re already enough. No activity or communication is necessary to complete you because you already are whole, warts and all. So bask in it. Embrace it. As Pema Chodron would say, befriend it – whatever you find there.

Stop. Be still. Listen. Feel. Befriend. Then you can discern what’s important and what’s not and get a clearer sense of what to do and keep and what to let go of. This is an antidote to reactivity.

Several moments later, a dragonfly (possibly the same one) landed on my paddle, and then a second one came along. Their bodies touched, and they did a spiral dance (that resembled a DNA strand) together before zipping off together. They made me think of my parents, and it felt like they were with me in this spacious field of presence. Earlier this summer, I dreamed that my mom was with me and communicated that she had been trying to get through to me, but I hadn’t been paying attention because I was too busy focusing on other things, filling my head with thoughts and to-do lists and not making space or being quiet enough for much else to come in. Immersed in nature, my thinking mind settles into the background, into stillness, and I experience spaciousness, where what is most important arises and makes itself known.

With things as they seem now in the world and close to home, it was restorative to be out on the calm, mirror-like river. It was like pushing the reset button. I noticed some ripples on the surface, but then they radiated into the distance, and the water was calm and clear again. Thought ripples! It seemed like the surface of the river reflected my mind and brought me back into calm and stillness as it regained those very qualities. Immersed in nature and sensory impressions, the calming solitude was a channel I really needed to tune in to. When a thought crept in about current events, practical matters, challenging relationships, etc., they were more noticeable and less compelling because I was connected with something so much larger. 

My peach nectar tea was still hot and more delicious than usual.

Then I paddled back to shore and began the day.


© 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 (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! 🙂

A Dragonfly Story

A Dragonfly Story

I was on the front porch this afternoon doing some work when I happened to look up and notice a dragonfly just outside one of the windows. It made me smile because I have a special place in my heart for dragonflies.

But it didn’t fly away or land. It just kind of hovered outside the window. As I watched it, the hovering seemed rather unnatural and odd. I began to suspect it was caught in a spider web and got up to take a closer look.

Then I noticed the dragonfly begin to spin fast and also noticed a tiny spider a few inches above it spinning its arms like a masterful puppeteer. (Honestly, it reminded me of Voldemort in Harry Potter.) Clearly, this dragonfly was in a deathtrap and in the process of being bound, paralyzed, and eventually having the life sucked out of it by the hungry predator it was now powerless against.

Well, with all due respect to spiders and their fantastic webs, this was not going to happen on my watch! I was not about to stay put and watch a beautiful dragonfly become a lifeless shell of its former, dazzling self. No siree!

Not knowing if it was too late, I grabbed a long object (since the web was higher than I could reach), bolted outside and batted at the web until the dragonfly became detached from the spider and the web.

The binding process had only just begun, and I saw that there weren’t many sticky threads attached to the dragonfly yet. So I picked it up and brought it inside to inspect it. There were bits of sticky web and binding threads caught on its delicate wings and legs, and I began to remove them ever so carefully, knowing not to touch its fragile wings.

The dragonfly stayed with me for about a half hour as I tended to it and gave it all the love I could. Every now and then, it flew away only to drop to the ground because there were still some threads attached that restricted its movement. Eventually, I managed to get the last bits of spider web off, and the dragonfly flew out of sight.

This little creature must not have realized how close it was to danger. Then it got caught in the web that at first sight probably didn’t look so dangerous. It got too close, got stuck, and couldn’t break free. It must have been terrified when it realized how sticky the web was and how powerless it was against it! And then the very hungry and merciless spider sprang into action. At that point, I imagine the weak dragonfly gave up hope that it ever could break free from the situation and probably thought: What’s the useI’ll never be that brisk, shimmering being again. 

But even in your bleakest moment, you never know who’s looking out for you – who will step in and act on your behalf and watch over you as you recover from the trauma and clear the sticky debris from your wings…because even though you are a tiny dragonfly, YOU MATTER.

The point is: Don’t give up. Even when the situation seems hopeless, and all odds seem to be against you, somebody just might be looking out for you, ready to take action to help you get your wings untangled from the web that seemed so impossible to release yourself from. You might even have a guardian angel working behind the scenes, perhaps in response to a loved one’s prayers for divine intercession. I don’t know how these things work, only that the dragonfly wasn’t paying close enough attention and ended up in the web, and I happened to notice at just the right time.

I often wonder if trees experience time the same way humans do. If so, I imagine being rooted in one place for such a long time would feel like eternity! But I suspect time moves more quickly for trees and probably more slowly for dragonflies, whose lifetimes are so brief compared to humans. That half hour in my care (not to mention the time it was caught in the web) might have felt like years to the dragonfly. Perhaps it felt like a very long time for it to recover from its brush with death in the spider web and rid its wings and legs of the sticky debris so it could once again fly right. Perhaps it required patience – the trying, the falling, the humility of it all, and having to give it a little more time before trying again.

I like to think that when it finally did fly off – perhaps back to its dragonfly family – it did so a little wiser as a result of what it had experienced, with greater knowledge of the nature of spider webs, what to look out for, and how to avoid them in the future. Perhaps the dragonfly flew off with a renewed sense of purpose, a better understanding of its strengths and resources, and a realization that there is goodness in the world and that it is loved deeply.

Thank you, my little dragonfly friend, for giving me this parable. I hope you are zipping around again, feeling loved, and sharing your survival story with all your dragonfly friends. And I’ll share it with mine because it is a story of hope, and I know quite a few people who could use a little of that right now.


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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!  🙂

Living Heaven (When It Feels Like Hell)

Living Heaven (When It Feels Like Hell)

Every spring, I await the arrival of the Omega Institute catalog in the mail. I’ve only attended a program there twice, but the catalog inspires me. Even if I don’t sign up for a workshop, I find other uses for the catalog. For example, it’s good vision board material.

It took me more than a month to read this year’s catalog from cover to cover. I dog-eared some pages with the intention of signing up for a program and eventually selected a weekend workshop called Living Heaven Now with Anita Moorjani and John Holland. Anita, author of Dying to Be Me and What If This Is Heaven?, underwent a near-death experience in 2006 that transformed her life, and John Holland is a widely renowned psychic medium and author. I hadn’t heard of him, but Anita’s books and TED Talk resonated and inspired me deeply, and the combination of perspectives was compelling because she had crossed over and returned with a story to share about what she experienced on the other side, and he talks to dead people. I registered for the workshop mostly because Anita’s teachings focus on loving yourself and living your life fearlessly, and tender, loving self-care is what I am giving special attention to this year.

For me, the high points of the weekend were two guided meditations. Anita led a lengthy visualization based on her near-death experience in which we imagined ourselves on our deathbed with our loved ones gathered around. Before taking our last breath, we reflected on the life we led – the joys, sorrows, successes, regrets, etc. Then we let go and entered the nonphysical realm where we were without gender, race, culture, beliefs, grudges, judgment, etc. and were surrounded by unconditional love. We were greeted by someone (in my case, my mom) and then became aware of more loving presences around us – some we recognized and others we didn’t. We also faced the person who hurt us the most in this lifetime but interacted as two pure essences and acknowledged that we had a soul agreement that was based on deep love. In this realm, we could understand why everything happened as it did. Eventually, we learned it was not our time, and we had to return to our bodies to live our lives fearlessly. We were given a second chance at life, and what were we going to do with it? What would we do differently? What was most important now?

Needless to say, there were many tears flowing during this profound inner journey! Seeing my children gathered around my bed and knowing I’d have to leave them, being with my parents and other loved ones who had passed on, being with the person who had hurt me the most free of all human defilements and limitations and feeling nothing but unconditional love between us, learning about my gifts and purpose – each step of this inner journey brought a fresh round of tears, peace, and clarity. I felt like a waterfall. But it was good.

The following day, John led us through a “soul shift” process based on Pete Sanders’ work, that took our awareness up through our body, all the way to the top of our head, and then up higher and higher, into our soul essence where we could receive answers to any questions we had and communicate with loved ones in the nonphysical. It was a place of love, kindness, wisdom, and deep peace that felt very different from being in my head and body.

There was a lot of content presented and discussed throughout the weekend, and my biggest takeaway was an awareness of my gifts, talents, and abilities along with the realization that in order to use them to their fullest potential, I must learn how to manage and balance them effectively. To be clear, I’m talking about empathy, sensitivity, and compassion, which could mutate into overcaring, overhelping, and enabling. It’s important to keep these qualities in check so they will serve me and not drain me. Only then will I be better able to serve others, which is why I believe we were given our gifts and talents in the first place.

This wisdom came at exactly the right time and was put to the test hard-core and immediately in real life.

When I first wake up in the morning, my mind is like a coloring book page with faint, glowing outlines of some kind of cosmic blueprint or pattern. It feels great: A new day, a fresh slate with endless possibilities! However, for the past several mornings, the pattern quickly fills in with the heavy colors of this world, and my stomach ties itself in knots. I reach for a positive feeling or affirmation so the gravity of the world will not bring me down. The realization sets in again, as it does every morning lately: Someone I love very much is going through hell. Hell like I never could have imagined. Hell that I cannot fix. She (I am going to use the pronoun she for simplicity but not necessarily accuracy) is the only one who can do anything about it. I have tried to go back in time and figure out where things started to unravel, which is both natural and futile. Is there something I could have done to prevent it? These are not productive places to focus my energy and attention.

Mostly, I feel confused. What is true? What isn’t? What are the real issues? As a highly empathic person, I can’t help but feel my loved one’s pain. This is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to deal with, and the stakes are very high.

I suspect one of my lessons in this lifetime is to strengthen my backbone to keep my caring nature in check so I can do more good in the world. In many situations, my backbone is just fine, but sometimes it needs work because I don’t like to hurt anyone’s feelings. And just when I believe I’ve done the work and have a solid backbone, it’s as if the Universe comes along and says, “Ya think so? OK, let’s see how you handle this.” You could call it the Accelerated Learning Plan, and I’m beginning to believe it’s what I signed up for this time around.

I’m grateful to have the soul-shift technique in my spiritual toolbox along with many other resources that can help me navigate this challenging situation. Through meditation or “shifting” out of ordinary consciousness, I can receive answers that aren’t charged with fear. When I tune to that channel, I realize there is so much support in the nonphysical realm, and I am never alone. Neither is my loved one who is going through hell on earth at the moment. Synchronicities provide further evidence of this, and we’ve experienced a number of them.

The guided meditation Anita Moorjani led us through helped me to realize on a deeper level that we are both divine beings manifesting in this life, and her soul has reasons for experiencing this path – spiritual reasons that I don’t understand. I have to trust that her soul wants to learn and grow in certain ways and that on another plane, what looks like hell serves a spiritual purpose. Looking at the situation from this perspective does not diminish my compassion or caring, but it takes the edge off my anxiety and fear so I can discern more clearly the best action to take. I want my actions to be guided by love, not fear. Yes, the stakes are very high from our earthly perspective, but the universe is infinite, and from an expanded perspective where the ceiling is infinitely higher (if there is even a ceiling at all), things aren’t as dire as they appear to our small, human minds.

I expect that at the end of our lives, just like at the end of The Wizard of Oz, we will discover that we had the power all along. I believe that about my distressed loved one. We have no idea how powerful we are until we stop deceiving ourselves and giving away our power (by blaming others and making ourselves into victims) and start doing the work.

In the past 48 hours, I have had to practice tough love and say no when it was very hard to do so. I realize the importance of setting healthy boundaries and not accepting responsibility that isn’t mine. Resisting the urge to jump in and rescue. This is not easy for an “empath” to do, but it is necessary! Compassion is more effective when it is fused with wisdom, and empathy is more effective when it is supported by a strong backbone and an abundance of Self-love.

I realize it’s important to make time to go to that soul space where I know all is well so as not to get sucked in or drained by earthly drama. In that place, I realize there are much larger forces at work and so much more to the situation than I can perceive from where I stand, and it’s not up to me to try to make everything right. My job is to shine my light as brightly as I can by expressing my gifts, talents, and abilities to their fullest potential. Ironically, challenges help me to shine even brighter and to experience more of my divine nature and greater strength and joy. I might not be able to choose the circumstances I encounter, but I can choose the thoughts and beliefs that will help me navigate them. For example, I’ve learned not to ask, “What did I do to deserve this?” but to consider what my soul might want to learn from it or simply trust that there is some kind of soul lesson involved.

I remind myself throughout the day that “All Is Well”, even when it seems anything but well from where I stand. Remembering that alleviates the anxiety and fear and stops my mind from running in circles. Then I can get to work.


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!  🙂

In Celebration of Clarity

In Celebration of Clarity

There are times
when clarity dawns gently
almost imperceptibly
and there are times
when it falls like a sword
because the gentle dawning
did not penetrate
deep enough to take hold.
However it comes
it is merciful
even when its sting
is excruciating
for clarity
is always a blessing.

When the sword of clarity
cuts clean through illusion
you cannot unsee or forget
the truth it reveals
as hard as you may try.
Illusion is pierced and broken
and cannot hold
your projections anymore
and a question arises
from the rubble:
Are you ready to honor
yourself and the truth
that has been revealed
or will you continue
to swim against the current
and cling to whatever
pieces of illusion
you possibly can?
In other words: Will you
act on what you know to be true
or what you wish were true?

When clarity arises,
don’t feel ashamed
of mistakes you made
or how foolishly you acted
what you did or didn’t say.
Instead be grateful
for what you have learned
and how it can serve you
going forward.
Hold your head high
and fear not:
There is no reason for
punishment or judgment
when a dark space
becomes illuminated.
The newly illuminated
are the only ones shedding tears
when they understand how much
unnecessary pain
their ignorance caused
and isn’t time spent in darkness
punishment enough?

When a child finally
sees the light, lets it in
and allows it to release her
from bondage and suffering
what parents would choose
condemnation of their beloved
over gladness?
And why wouldn’t it be
the same with souls
and their Creator
or any parts of
an evolving whole?
Stepping out of disempowered
darkness and into light
is cause for celebration
whenever it happens
no matter how long it takes
and the enlightened ones rejoice.

-Susan Meyer

Thank You Clarity Words in the Sand


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

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!  🙂

What She Wanted

What She Wanted

When my mom was alive, before any holiday or birthday she would ask me what I wanted. I almost always answered that I don’t need or want anything. My mom liked material things, and I tended to rebel against that and distinguished myself from her through my response to that question.

But it was true: I wasn’t interested in things or clothes. Never went on vacation. Didn’t watch TV. I bought the wedding dress for my first wedding off the rack at Macy’s for $70 only a week before the big day, and I just wore my favorite outfit for my second wedding. I was content where I was, with what I had. My maternal grandmother would comment that she and I were very much alike because we didn’t need fancy things. Give us the wind in the trees, and we could be content. In fact, the last time I visited my grandmother at her home before she fell and went into a nursing home for the last couple months of her life, we sat on her front steps appreciating the sight and sound of the wind in the late summer trees. I loved that, at the end of her life, she found contentment in something so simple and ordinary and that I could join her in that space.

It seemed my mom always wanted more. She loved going to the mall, even if only to look (which I totally didn’t understand because the only time you could get me into a mall was if I had a specific, unavoidable purpose). She grew up poor and was determined not to live that way as an adult. She started working right after graduating from high school and, with the exception of taking some years off to raise children, kept working until a few years before she passed away – at which point she retired from what many would consider a rather glamorous job at a performing arts venue.

She was so generous every Christmas and experienced obvious joy in giving gifts to everyone. Anytime she’d give me money for my birthday, Mother’s Day, or just because, she would tell me to make sure to get something for myself and not spend it on household bills or anyone else. She wanted me to treat myself. Occasionally I would, and more often I would intend to, but inevitably somebody would need something, and I would pass on getting something for myself because the gift was needed elsewhere.

A year or two after my mom died, I was downtown and walked past a shop that had something in the window that captured my attention. Normally, that doesn’t happen because I couldn’t be less interested in shopping. (Retail therapy is not in my self-help repertoire!) I can’t remember what the object was, but when it caught my eye, I felt sad that my mom wasn’t around to ask what I’d like for Christmas…because she was the only one who ever asked, and this time I would have had an answer. And it would have made her so happy that I had an answer!

I spent two full months this year decluttering my home completely. After getting rid of all the stuff I didn’t love or use, I focused on making my home a sanctuary aligned with my authentic Self. I looked around the house and received clear insights about what could make it feel more like I wanted it to. I had received some insurance money after my dad passed away in October and bought some things to elevate the energy of our small, 1840s rental home: a couple Japanese shoji room dividers to create closet spaces where none existed, several plants, a standing desk converter, a digital photo frame loaded with hundreds of my images – things like that. I also finally did something I had wanted to do for many years, which was to wrap some silk vines around the railings on the stairs and weave fairy lights through them. So magical! Now, everywhere I look in my house, my eyes rest on spaces and objects that are beautiful, useful, and/or intentional and that bring me joy. Everything else is gone! It’s an amazing feeling.

However, as I mentioned in my last post, there was one final thing that needed to be upgraded: my bed. The bed I had been sleeping in was tiny and uncomfortable, and when we moved everything out of my parents’ house, I claimed the bed from their guest room, which seemed like an improvement. But it, too, was small and didn’t feel quite right, and eventually I discovered it was more than 20 years old, which was at least twice as old as the bed I previously had been sleeping on. A few weeks ago, I was lying on my bed looking at my vision board hanging on the wall and was drawn to a picture of a large, comfy bed. That’s when I convinced myself to let go of the hand-me-down beds and buy a new one. And with that purchase, my home improvements felt complete.

This morning (Mother’s Day), I got out of bed and created a Mother’s Day altar, which I’d never done before. I clipped some lilacs from a tree in the yard and put them in a vase my mom used for lilacs she clipped from our yard when I was a child. I also placed on the altar her funeral candle and a Mother’s Day card I’d just made, along with a crystal heart and a small turtle with the words “Live with joy” on its back.

Living with joy is my Mother’s Day gift to my mom, wherever she is. Isn’t joy what mothers ultimately want for their children? It’s what I want for mine.

Two years ago, grief felt enormous, as if it penetrated all the way down into my bones. I can’t remember ever feeling sadder than I was during May two years ago when my first Mother’s Day without my mom and the anniversary of her passing were complicated by additional losses. But time really does heal. And having the energy to finally take charge of my home and make it beautiful, uplifting, and joyful was both a big deal and a milestone. It felt like stepping out of the dark forest I had been wandering in since my mom passed away.

I have to believe she would be happy for me because the journey I have been on since February is one of learning to love and value myself and ramp up the joy by creating a sanctuary to support my vision of my best self and who I want to be moving forward. In other words, it’s a process of reclaiming my life. I have created a joyful, uplifting infrastructure from which to create my future. That infrastructure includes details such as:

  • an elegant, crystal pitcher of local spring water on a small table in my bedroom (found when clearing out my parents’ home)
  • red, silk roses in a vase next to my bed
  • a bed tray for having tea and reading a nourishing book before falling asleep
  • an aromatherapy diffuser for creating a lavender-scented bedroom to facilitate sleep
  • a comfy pillow that wraps around my entire body

And that’s just the bedroom! At night, I look forward to “lavender and rose” time with lavender aromatherapy and rose tea while reading or listening to something nourishing so my last impressions of the day are positive and empowering. That’s important because they are what my unconscious mind will marinate in for the next eight hours!

None of these items would have crossed my mind back when my mom asked me for gift ideas. I didn’t think of them until I cleared my home of clutter and reflected on what would make me feel comfortable, joyful, and loved – which is exactly how she wanted me to feel and was the intention behind her gift question. As I decluttered the objects and spaces in my home, a powerful, parallel process took place inside my head that rippled into other areas of my life. The work I have done in my home this year is an act of tender, loving self-care that grows from my mother’s love, for which I have immense gratitude.

The special touches in my home feel like what you would put in place if you were expecting an honored, beloved guest. Throughout the course of decluttering and uplifting my living space, I have become my own honored guest and best friend, which is no small thing coming from someone who used to have a strong inner critic. What parent wouldn’t want that for his or her child?

So, Happy Mother’s Day to my angel mom! My light is bright again, and I think it’s the best gift I can give you because it’s what you always wanted for me.


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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!  🙂

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