Saturday, June 9, 2018

A spring song, a quiet song




There has been a lot of rain this spring. It has been an unusual time and the storms have often been violent. I rarely see them coming. The man that I am dating makes things grow and I have learned through him to watch the clouds form and shift, into something beautiful or something dangerous. A hail storm arriving at the end of a previously sunny day can wipe out an entire years crop in twenty minutes. Just as too much humidity can tempt a certain insect to prosper overnight, leaving a field of strawberries that cannot be sold in its wake.

And yet life remains in bloom. The pears are on the trees, budding forward, filling form, bulbous.

Sometimes I pray to scatter the clouds. And sometimes I watch in wonder and let them be.

It is deeply humbling. This knowledge that there is always shadows, always light. It keeps repeating like the echo of approaching thunder, like the whisper of love in the crook of my neck.

And yet we don't always wish to acknowledge that both exist, permanently...en permanence, un à côté de l'autre...that there is no dividing line, no simple answer. Save for when sometimes, divinely, there is. We all have our own moments of precious gifts, shining. A breath, a reprieve.

After my last post, or maybe the one before it, I received an Anonymous comment that I accidentally deleted but that has stayed with me. It was something along the lines of: "I was so happy to read what seemed like good news from you, until I realized that it wasn't...again." That disappointment. But I don't want to hide my struggles, whether real or imagined (typed with a wry smile) because this is also the conversation that we need to be having. Openly, honestly.

I am not seeing what I want to read after the suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. There is much about what they accomplished but the act itself is often a link to a small article that is strict to the facts. Quotes from police examiners. Suicide by hanging...It makes my heart drop and tears rise just to type those three words. For I have great empathy that their struggles reached that point of no return, having known known what is mercifully (and I use that word specifically) chronic low-grade depression most of my adult life but also periods that were dangerous, and life-threatening.

We have to move away from the shame in our society about depression and mental illness. We are seeing that now. Losses...out in the fields or within our hearts...are a wakeup call. Let's listen. It is only through acknowledging openly the darkness when it arises, if it arises, that we can continue to grow. To hear a spring song, perhaps sung quietly, but in the tune of our own true voice.


   




  

 






 It is my Sister who encouraged me to write this post after a discussion late last night. Thank you, Robin. I love you so much.
For anyone who is directly or indirectly touched by depression or mental illness, please reach out. We are here for you.
Because we are all in this together.


With much Love and Gratitude, 
always,
Heather

52 comments:

  1. Thank you, Heather, for this post.

    sincerely,

    David Terry
    Quail Roost Farm
    Rougemont, NC
    USA

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  3. Heather, I echo David's "thank you." Your final words, "To hear a spring song, perhaps sung quietly, but in the tune of our own true voice," speaks volumes to me. And I am riveted by these photographs, they pull me right in and I feel that I am sitting on your shoulder. I am well aware of how serious depression is, starting when I was just 11 years old and my brother who is 10 year's older had his first serious bout. Sadly, it was not handled well. He is still with us, but was greatly misunderstood by our father who was just cruel. It is true that we have to do the reaching out -- when people are depressed they often retreat into themselves. But this reminds me, personally, that I need to keep doing that even though I may not get a response. Sending love, Judith

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    1. Judith, a response such as your own is the answer that I need to "should I keep going with this blog?" If what I write or photograph can help someone in any way then...there is nothing better that I can do in life. Thank you so much for your honesty about your brother. I feel for him. And yes, even if there is no response, know that your effort means so very much.

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  4. Dear Heather,

    First of all, thanks again for the sincere posting. Secondly?....email me an address to which I can send a portrait I finished while I was also finishing up pieces for the new show...of you and the dogs on a bright hill (blue sky, happy smile, etcetera). It's quite lovely. I thought you might like to give it to a member of your family? I know that you're quite close to them.

    Just email an address to me.,,,,and do, please, keep well.

    sincerely,

    David Terry

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    1. I am honored by your creating this. It brings tears to my eyes. Yes, of course, I will send an address.

      Thank you with all heart. With much love to you.

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  5. Is that HIM, bending over in a field?

    More later.

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  6. my dear Heather, when you write, "always" as you write, you touch my heart..somehow I even pretend you know me..for your writings certainly show that.....xo........this post hit me & I think i have that depression, my heart is longing to share my life & my tribe, even when reached to with many olive branches heck even trees, seldom reach back if then......I play in my leaves, trees, flowers, & herbs I love them & they love me too....I have no family to love anymore.......much love to you Heather XO

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    1. You always, always (yes, that word again) have your global family to love, along with your trees and flowers (who are very worthy of your affection!). I realized that in the worst of my depression when my ex and I split and I felt that I had lost "everything." There were and there still are, so many people who reached out like angels to hold me in their care. Even if it was just a passing smile from a stranger. So we are a part of something bigger. I am writing this to remind you as much as me...but we are never alone. Sending you a big warm hug. xo

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  7. Dear Heather,

    From the pics, it looks like you’ve been visiting my garden. (ps Lovely message, too)

    Patricia 2

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  8. Dearest Heather,
    I echo the "thank you" for this post. My heart hurts when I read judgments without knowing. For, even when you think you know, each journey is singular, owned only by one. It takes so little to open one's arms and embrace, even if we don't fully understand. I love your willingness to share; it is always that break of sun in a stormy sky. Love to you. Angela Muller

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    1. And much Love to you in return, Angela. It is so beautiful what you wrote and so true...

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  9. Knowledge sprinkled with love. How wonderful to take a bite out of that.

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    1. You are so fantastic Daniel. But for me, it might be the opposite...I have so much more love than actual knowledge!

      I know that it sounds silly to write but I would be delighted if we somehow get to meet one day.

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  10. Thank you for your post, Heather. Beautiful writing as always!
    So many people seem to be coming forward at the moment with their own storied=s of being touched by depression and anxiety. The more it is openly acknowledged and spoken about, the more people will realise that it is a mental health issue, a disease to be treated and not something shameful. It affects many families, regardless of income, social standing or success. As the stigma is gradually taken away, even that alone might lessen the loneliness and shame that this disease carries with it.
    Cheers, Deborah from Melbourne

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    1. Absolutely, that would help enormously! I know from my own experiences, feeling depressed is worsened by feeling like "a loser" for feeling depressed! Total Catch-22. If there is a sense of community around depression, that totally can shift.

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  11. Thinking of you and your path. It’s been difficult at times losing my dear husband Chris 2 1/2 yrs ago, after having been together for 51 years. I’m sometimes lost, but moving along. I took a big step for me yesterday. I took my book and went to the local Thai restaurant tand had dinner by myself. The first time. It was actually quite enjoyable. They didn’t even ask me if I was a party of one! I’ve been wanting to travel, but feel Unsure of doing it on my own, and not crazy about idea of a fast and furious tour. Also that “single supplement” is nasty! Looking for a travel partner who is healthy enough, isn’t working, has a bit of money to do so, or who doesn’t want to only travel with their spouse! Not easy! I do get depressed that I can’t have what I once had (in many ways), and I know I’m fortunate to have some wonderful travel memories with my husband - but it’s not always easy to move forward. I’m working on it, and I think you are, too! A round of applause, and of course thank you for your beautiful words and photos!

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    1. Judi, is there a prosperous church near you? If so, check out there various Sunday School classes. It’s a great way to meet people and there might be other single women whom you could get to know and with whom you could travel.

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    2. May I recommend my friend Sue Ann's travel group? While it is geared for artists, she has assured me that anyone who loves to look at beautiful things is welcome to sign up. She arranges (with the most amazing accommodations and restaurants) visits in Paris and Provence. And I can tell you that she is a vibrant, loving, life-filled friend. There are many groups like this, at many different price points and often they are attended by women of a certain age, in the exact situation you are finding yourself. Here is the link: http://www.myarttrip.com

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    3. Also, if shopping is your thing, Corey Amaro, who writes the wonderful blog "Tongue in Cheek" hosts visits in Provence for people interested in old things, and all things Provençal. I can't find a link to the actual group (The French Muse), but here is a link to her blog post about one of them. I know if you were to email her, she would respond. She's lovely. http://willows95988.typepad.com/tongue_cheek/2018/05/the-first-day-of-the-french-muse.html

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    4. I just came back to Heather's blob to see if she happened to have responded and here I find three wonderful notes from her readers! I can't thank you enough for taking the time to write. I am going to look into each of these! Thank you!!!

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    5. Judi, if you are near a college or university, sometimes there are courses that study the destination. You might meet lovely people in the class who then become your travel companions. The profs act as travel guides. I myself would like to go to Montreal to hear Andrea Bocelli in the fall but to get there is almost as expensive as going to Italy..

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    6. Judi, Sally and Rebecca? I love you SO MUCH. I love love love you. And I am sorry, my blog might be barely hanging in there, might not be the most glamorous but I HAVE THE BEST READERS OF ANYBODY. Done.

      Judi, I am so proud of you. It has been such a long road for you. It seems so hard to take in that Chris has been gone for 2 1/2 years already. That is a HUGE step that you took.

      These suggestions are spot on. I googled "women travelling alone together" and came with some other sites too. But hello? Of course I am going to push for a trip in Provence!!!! That way I can finally give you that massive hug that I have been wanting to for years...

      I also would like to recommend a truly wonderful novel (that I am going to write about soon) by my friend Patricia Sands called "Drawing Lessons." It is perfect for where you are at right now.

      I love you. And am always here for you.
      H

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    7. PS. Ellie's friend from Canada...your comments were lost in the spam so I am only just adding them (along with a few others) now...merci pour ces mots...

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  12. I am always happy when a post from you arrives in my mailbox.
    Depression is a tough nut to crack. I bet almost everybody has had a fight with it, whether long or short. Yet it's hard to talk about.
    Is your new paramour a strawberry grower? If so, that would rank right up there with masseuse in the best métiers for a partner.

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    1. And if he just so happened to grow strawberries AND was also a fine masseuse? hmmm...

      There was a very fortituous phase where I was eating a barquette everyday for breakfast...

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  13. Thank you Heather for this. This exact subject has been on my mind all week. I'm going to tell you a very personal story.

    My mother suffered with severe depression her whole life, caused, perhaps, by severe abuse by her adoptive parents. My childhood was fraught with the uncertainty of her mood swings, and while she was never successful, I know she wanted to end her life, and I suspect she had several attempts (mysterious comings and goings late at night, followed by Mom in a darkened room the next day with my worried Dad tiptoeing around) my mother's illness was never discussed, and she displayed a perfect veneer to the outside world, and should have won acting awards for her ability to fool everyone around her....except her children, whom she frightened. It was not until I went away to college that she was finally hospitalized, following (I assume, no one would ever say) a more serious attempt. And the whole time, nothing was said. The stigma of her illness was a heavy weight that we all had to carry. It harmed her, but it also harmed her children in ways we are still trying to unravel.

    In the last years of her life, Mom apologized to me for being a bad mother. I told my mom that I loved her. And I pointed out to her that in spite of the challenge of her illness, she had raised successful, happy children. It was a hard conversation to have, and I'm getting teary remembering it. In the last days of her life, a hospice worker asked my mom about her childhood...had it been a happy one? I waited for the usual litany of childhood abuse stories and heard my mom say "oh it was so happy, it was the best childhood". Dementia had taken away the terror of the abuse, and Mom was finally free. She died shortly after that.

    Talking about the issue is the only way to remove the stigma. With huge gratitude to you for the conversation, I am sending you love.

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    1. What a wonderful gift you gave your mother, kindness, forgiveness and above all, understanding.
      Thank you for sharing. It brought tears to my eyes! Ann

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    2. Of course this made me cry Rebecca. I am so humbled and moved that you shared this with us. Especially as I know what a beautiful adult you grew up to be. But also as it is very similar - but not the same - to experiences within my family. If we learn from an early age that we have to either do or not do certain things to have love instead of getting it unconditionally...it can lead to codepency later on, which has definitely been the case with me (and typing that makes me think that it is probably a good idea that I get out the book "codependent no more").

      How amazing that you were able to have that conversation. What a blessing for both of your spirits.

      I love you so much friend. I can't wait until you are here.

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  14. I am so thankful for your acknowledgement of the shadows because as you say they certainly are always there.

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    1. Yes, and can even be beautiful (as I tried to show in the photos) if we can acknowledge them clearly.

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  15. Un orage peut être puissant et dévastateur lorsqu'il s'abat sur la nature, mais il est une bénédiction pour celle ci, tant la croissance de la végétation s'en trouve amplifiée les jours suivants. Comment réellement apprécier le bonheur, la vie si on n'a pas connu la peine, le désespoir, la mélancolie? Les chemins tortueux et cabossés ne sont pas ceux que la majorité des gens préfèrent, ils choisissent plutôt une belle autoroute droite pour rouler vite, les vitres fermées sur le monde et l'extérieur. Merci Heather de laisser place aux faiblesses, aux imperfections, et de les magnifier à travers les mots, les images que tu captures et que tu nous offre. Ta sensibilité est une chose si rare et précieuse de nos jours. Et tant pis pour ceux qui n'en saisissent pas la beauté et la profondeur... Keep the faith and the beauty in you, and thank you so much for your precious share.

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    1. Cette sensibilité qui a attiré ton attention, les faiblesses qui t'as déjà crée leur propres orages presque dévastateur...mais tu comprends tout...on est d'accord...et nous sommes sur le chemin tortueuse, avec une si belle vue, ensemble. Merci "Mademoiselle Donnate" pour ta générosité d'esprit.

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  16. That was beautiful Heather. You choose your words so carefully, so gently. In many ways your posts are a balm to my soul, as are your beautiful photos of life's small things. I am not going through the best time in my life at the moment. I am stuck in a job that no longer holds my interest nor does the company have my loyalty. Yet there is a dearth of jobs in my field at the moment and I have nowhere to go. I keep telling myself that some people, including some of my oldest friends, are dealing with worse but, it doesn't always help to lift my dark moods. My blog used to be my outlet but, last January I decided to stop updating my old one and started a new one. Not sure it was a good decision. I seem to be at a loss for words at the moment.

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    1. I am too. It is why I am not writing more. It is a hard place to be in for people like ourselves who love and need that outlet. And I am right there with you in feeling stuck in a job that I no longer love. But I haven't been able to find anything else yet. It is soul sucking. So that means that our experiences are valid for both of us. If these two suicides show us anything, it is that we can't compare the experiences (especially the outward appearances) of others but we each feel is valid unto itself. I hope that you are doing all that you can to take good care of your self, to seek counsel if needed (I loved going to therapy so much when I was in the States). I am here for you and am sending love.

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  17. Thanks for a beautiful post Heather. I have fought depression since my early twenties.I know you know that there of levels of depression. Feeling low for some and a real chemical change for others that you just can not make go away. Mine has eased over the years, and I am happy to say I am finally in a marriage where I have the most understanding husband.He makes me laugh which is a wonderful trait in a man.Keep doing what you are doing..finding beauty in your world and sharing it with others...Janey

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    1. Janey, thank you for your honesty. I know that we have shared the ups and downs together these past few years and how wonderful it is that you are so well supported!Yes, there is NO better trait in a man. And thank you for the encouragement and understanding. I will try.
      bisous

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  18. Always, your words inspire..it's why I keep coming back, longing for that voice that shines a light.

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  19. In the last year two of my friends have lost their sons to depression. We are not angry or disappointed or anything like that - we are full of love and heartbroken that this disease took them. We wish it had not happened. So it is important to not hide, to have the conversation, and for all of us to remember, reiterate, reinforce - life is as it is, everything you 'should' have achieved or have in your possession is not the right rule.
    This does not stop me wishing you a good harvest though! xx

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    1. That is right. And such an important point. There is such huge, huge pressure in our instagram culture, facebook likings, to have a very specific life that is so far from what is reality for most of us. We grew up knowing the differences, the root of nature...but today? Wow. It seems far away for so many. And it can be so hard when you are young especially to have faith that life can have so many chapters, be so many, many things...when you are older too. ;) I still struggle with the not knowing. It takes such faith. I am so sorry for your losses.

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  20. Heather,

    I could not agree with you more, we have to call attention to depression and mental illness. So many people suffer and frankly there is such a stigma attached to it that people do not feel as if they can talk about it.

    My Aunt suffered from bi-polar for many years and finally she had had enough and jumped in front of a train. Her family is still trying to come to terms with that decision.

    This is YOUR space my friend so you continue to post about YOU! Those who want to read will read it and those who are not interested will move on.

    I hope that you take care of yourself. A big hug to you.

    xo Elizabeth

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    1. And a big hug to you Elizabeth. I never take your support for granted. I am so very sorry to read this about your Aunt. My heart goes to you and your family.

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  21. “Let's listen. It is only through acknowledging openly the darkness when it arises, if it arises, that we can continue to grow. To hear a spring song, perhaps sung quietly, but in the tune of our own true voice.”

    The photos show the clarity and abundance of iiving spring in nature and in life.

    Let each dawn start with praise and gratitude.

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  22. I appreciate very much that you were honest and real in this post.
    It felt to me like it wasn't quite finished though; I scrolled below the pics to see if there was more.

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    1. I was finished. :) But thank you for reading.

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  23. Heather, You are always honest, empathetic and caring. Linda

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    1. Merci, Linda. I think empathy is so needed right now...

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