Beauty along the way…

As Copper and I enjoyed our morning walk this morning,

Copper smelling the flowers by Steph

I couldn’t help notice the vibrant blooms along the way. Whether they blossom in our garden or in the neighborhood, they have served as an exceptional balm during this time of sheltering in place. Copper even knows when it’s time to slow down
and smell the flowers…

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“Miss Bougainvillea, luxuriant and sturdy,
unaware of her magical attributes.”
Yours truly

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“The earth laughs in flowers.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

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“Love is a flower you’ve got to let grow.”
John Lennon

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“The flowers of tomorrow are the seeds of today.”
Anonymous

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“After women, flowers are the most divine creation.”
🙂 Christian Dior 

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“Where flowers bloom, so does hope.”
Lady Bird Johnson

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“Bloom where you are planted.” Anonymous

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“But he who dares not grasp the thorn should never 
crave the rose.” Anne Bronte

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“Their colors bring infinite joy
as they are cared for with pride.
The thorns do not lessen their beauty –
not one delicate petal is denied.”
Yours truly – an excerpt from one of my poems

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“Deep in their roots, all flowers keep the light.”
Theodore Roethke

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“Spring has returned. The earth is like a child
who knows poems.”

Rainer Marina Wilke

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A Cup of Spring

Miss Spring sips her tea
as we anticipate
her arrival.

She says, “Be patient,
I will soon bring you
colors so pleasing

and new life, delightful.
But first, Mr. Winter
must finish acting
out his scene.”

Yours truly

I believe Miss Spring kept her promise and I hope these gorgeous blooms were as soothing to you as they were to me. 

Lauren

 

 

 

Poem in the San Francisco Chronicle!

Dear Friends,

I want to share that one of my poems, The Virus, was published in the SF Chronicle yesterday! This poem is a Palindrome (mirror poem) and after a writing friend read it, she suggested I send it in to the paper. To my surprise, it was published! So, this news from yesterday was a great start to my Friday and also a positive kick-off to the new month of May.

During the health crisis, I have often written in my journal, expressing how my family is affected and how we are faring in these uncertain times. Then some of those thoughts turned into poetry and the Palindrome form evolved. 

If you are interested in checking out the poem in the SF Chronicle, the links are below:

https://www.sfchronicle.com/opinion/

https://www.sfchronicle.com/opinion/letterstoeditor/article/Letters-to-the-Editor-poem-The-Virus-15238619.php

Otherwise, here is the poem:

The Virus

Its effect appears as shattering
As it slips unnoticed into homes,
When death numbers continue to rise
Like the Spanish flu filling tombs.
But each night there is howling
And each night there is singing,
So even under gray clouds hanging,
The music becomes encouraging
As we crawl through this haze.

Our spirits lift, feeling optimistic
When the darkness plays that song.
As voices make a touching statement
Needless boundaries are withdrawn.

Needless boundaries are withdrawn
As voices make a touching statement.
When darkness plays that song
Our spirits lift, feeling optimistic.
As we crawl through this haze
The music becomes encouraging,
So even under gray clouds hanging,
Each night there is singing
And each night there is howling.
Like the Spanish flu filling tombs
When death numbers continue to rise,
It slips unnoticed into homes,
The virus appears as shattering.

Lauren Scott Swalberg (c) 2020

I hope you enjoyed my poem and may you find a sense of calm and a glimmer of joy in your weekend as we continue on this unprecedented journey. 

~Lauren 💗

 

 

 

 

Grieving with a Backpack On

The inevitable is happening – turning sixty is only a few years away, so what better time to experience a new adventure? When my children were young, my husband, Matt, often took them backpacking, teaching them about his lifelong passion. I, on the other hand, had no interest whatsoever to carry a pack on my back. But since birthdays seemingly arrive faster and getting older is a sure thing, I was inspired to try something new. When the summer of 2017 came around, I told him I was ready to wear that pack and leave my footprints on the trail. I had enjoyed listening to my family’s tales of their past trips, but now I longed to be the narrator of my own stories.

Their trips were weekend get-a-ways, and although Matt had gone on two 50-milers in the past, these short outings were a subtle way of introducing backpacking to his family and much more manageable for his family. And so, my first trip was on a weekend in July, backpacking in Point Reyes not far from home. After pulling into the parking lot on a Friday afternoon, we “suited up” and I almost toppled over, feeling a bit like Lucille Ball in one of her slapstick scenes – although I managed to find balance eventually. 

When we found the trailhead, I had to document this new beginning with some photos, then we were on our way. The trail was fairly easy with a few minor inclines and dips. I tried to enjoy the scenery, but I was fixated on each step in my what-felt-like “moon” boots. The bulkiness took some getting used to, but it was humbling to carry everything I needed on my back. After just over an hour, we arrived at Coast Camp, sweaty and slightly dirty. Our site was nothing fancy, but it came with a picnic table which proved to be convenient. We set up the tent and made our wilderness bedroom as comfortable as possible. The trip was off to a great start…

We hiked around local trails, reveling in the beauty of the wildflowers – shades of yellows, reds, pinks, and purples – while the bees serenaded. We trekked down to the beach a few times where the temperature had dropped and the wind lost its temper. The ocean inhaled then exhaled, greeting us with a palpable roughness as if to say, “Don’t you dare come in.” We wouldn’t dare, but the sight was beautiful just the same. After trekking back to our campsite, we had a reaffirmed respect for the ocean.

Our dinners were convenient consisting of freeze-dried backpacking food such as beef stroganoff and chicken and dumplings. Occasionally, we indulged in our favorite desserts – raspberry crumble or apple crisp. All we had to do for hot meal preparation was heat water, pour, stir, wait a few minutes, and dinner was ready. In the morning when the sun rose, we had oatmeal and that cup of coffee, which hit the spot. Fruit, cheese, nuts, and sometimes, a little salami and crackers served as lunch. We definitely did not lack in nutrition or hunger.

We appreciated moments of sitting together in silence, reading, enjoying nature’s entertainment, or watching other hikers pass by. Everyone offered a familiar wave as though we were all members of the same backpacking club out for a weekend. Other than an unexpected allergy attack, the trip was a success. When Sunday morning arrived, knowing it was time to pack up and leave, I was sad that this amazing experience was coming to an end, yet I was eager for a hot shower. The drive home was picturesque on the quiet country roads with only the cows lifting their heads to see us as we drove by. We drifted into silence, absorbing the wonderful adventure we had together. A few days later, we jumped into the planning stages for our next adventure to Shealor Lakes in the Sierra for the following month.

Sometimes though, plans do not always work out. Soon after our July trip, my dad’s health suddenly weakened. He began having heart trouble, which initiated a much-needed hospital visit. Dad was ninety-seven years old, but surprisingly, he had never suffered through any major health issues. My family had no reason to believe he would not get the chance to blow out ninety-eight candles in two months. The only pain we knew he felt was missing Mom – his wife of sixty-seven years who had passed away five years prior. Dad was poked, prodded, and x-rayed, and after only three days in the hospital, he peacefully passed away.

It was all so strange – losing my dad, and at the same time having planned the trip. After talking to my sisters, they encouraged us to stick with our original plans. “It’s what Dad would want,” they said. I was unsure, but after much thought, we took my sisters’ advice. Yet, the slight guilt of going while it was all so fresh could not be ignored. If Dad was still in the hospital, I would have stayed, but he was at peace now, no longer suffering. In some otherworldly way, I felt his approval.

We began our four-hour drive a few days after Dad’s passing. After arriving, we unloaded our stuff and “suited up” just like on our first trip. While we prepared and packed, as well as on the drive, Matt repeated to me, “It’s only a mile and a half to the lake!” What he failed to mention was that the hike entailed an ascent over a huge granite dome. I stared at the dome that I was about to embark on and became anxious because I did not feel physically prepared. But Matt’s confidence in my ability was apparent, so we began the uphill hike. What was I going to do, back out now?

After hiking for forty-five minutes, we reached the top, and when I looked down that sleek granite dome, I was amazed at what I had achieved. Never underestimate our abilities. On the other side, Shealor Lake was in full view. We gave our legs a short rest, quenched our thirst and souls with water that tasted better than ever, then headed downhill with the enticing pull of the lake’s beauty. As we neared the bottom, my emotions ran wild. I felt relieved that we finally made it, but a sudden wave of grief washed over me. We removed our packs and rested on a nearby log. I was so overwhelmed that I did not fight the tears. I let them roll down my cheeks with purpose. I cried for the loss of Dad and I cried for having completed this hike that I did not think I was capable of. I would have wiggled out graciously had I known the details much earlier.

Once the last tear had fallen, I composed myself and looked to the lake. The water was a jeweled phenomenon. It sparkled, inviting us for a swim. While we set up our back-country camp, the orange-hot sun blazed down on us as if we had drastically turned up the thermostat, so the cool lake water soothed our sun-kissed skin. The fact that we were all alone in this canyon full of forest and smooth granite was beyond welcoming. The tranquility offered me the chance to reminisce about Dad and my parents together. The solitude afforded a perfect destination to grieve, think, remember, and cry. Mourning the loss of one parent was difficult enough, but losing both felt surreal – a new stage of life had begun.

This Sierra adventure provided a chance for hiking and granite-rock hopping. The sun was our alarm clock, bidding us good morning and night as it rose and faded behind the hills. In the evenings, we sat mesmerized by the campfire’s dancing flames and were enchanted by the dark, star-sprinkled sky. No matter where we explored, magic wrapped us in its warm embrace. This trip challenged my mind, body, and soul. I gained insight into my deepest being, learning not to limit myself. This amazing destination and experience proved to be the best medicine.

I approached that summer with enthusiasm for a new adventure to backpack and I am proud of my ascent over the granite dome. I often wonder if my grieving process would have been more difficult had I not agreed to go on the second trip. I will never know, but I believe I made the right choice at a time when my life unfortunately shifted in a hard-to-process direction. I thanked my sisters for encouraging us to go; their intuition knew it would be the right thing to do. Now, I can honestly say that my footprints are embedded in Point Reyes and the Sierra, and I am grateful to finally be my own narrator. I know Dad would be proud and I can not wait for a new story to emerge on the horizon.

Lauren Scott (c) 2020

 

 

 

Fair Day

My daughter and I had to carve out time for a day at the county fair since she is busy adulting these days. We stand in the line that snakes around endlessly for the Ferris Wheel, but our chance finally arrives. I step into the slightly swinging bucket, gripping the middle pole as a lifeline before sitting down. She relaxes across from me holding onto nothing. I want to be in her comfort zone. 

The ride begins to carry us higher and higher and knowing I’m wrestling with jittery nerves, she says, “Mom, you’ll be fine, just breathe.” Heeding her advice, I slowly inhale, and then look down; surprisingly, my stomach doesn’t flip. My eyes take in the scene unfolding below: fair patrons waiting for their turn in the sky resemble an ant colony. A summer breeze gently caresses my face; it soothes me as much as this moment does with my daughter.

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“Hanging out with your grown-up kids is like visiting the best parts of yourself.” ~Anonymous

My husband and I had planned to visit our daughter this spring who lives across country. But now with sheltering-in-place, that’s not happening. So, it’s special memories like this one about the county fair day that keep us company until the powers-that-be lift the orders. And of course, there’s phone calls, Facetime, texting, and emailing. My husband still wonders what in the world mom and daughter manage to talk about for two hours. All I can say is when we chat, there is never a moment of silence!

Lauren Scott (c) 2020 💗

 

 

 

 

 

 

After All This Time…

Dear Friends,

My blog sat alone for almost a year and a half, so I wouldn’t be surprised if Baydreamer and I had been forgotten. At the end of 2018, I posted about the success of a medical procedure, and then I fell off the blog for over a year? Since then my health has been back to normal, but soon after, I felt the need to disengage from technology. Now, I’m drawn to blogging again because with physical distancing, the connections that blogging offers are welcomed. As to writing, I drifted from poetry; instead, I have been writing personal essays and trying my hand at fiction, which has been challenging but rewarding. Occasionally, though, a poem begins to form.

How surreal I return in uncertain times, living in a pandemic world. I realize when the sun shines and the sky brightens to a beautiful cerulean blue, my attitude shifts to positive thoughts. When I stroll around our backyard, enjoying all the spring blooms, I wonder if the flowers have the slightest hunch of what Covid-19 is and its impact on human society. Probably not, which is why they bloom in spite of the bleakness all around the globe.

Don’t these flowers radiate joy? How can the same elation flood through our veins despite hearing the grim accounts of this virus? Answers vary, but two thoughts come to mind: Faith and Hope. Whatever you believe in and no matter how far you need to stretch to grasp even a fraction of Hope, without these, we can easily become defeated and remain in that gloomy headspace. It seems taking one day at a time is applicable once again.

Even while practicing physical distancing, there is some good that comes to light: I have seen more smiles on the street while walking our chocolate lab mix, Copper. Not to mention, the neighborhood has never been so joyfully packed with people of all ages out for a walk. This truly is a welcoming site. Stories of people helping each other are abundant – offering to grocery shop for a neighbor or reaching out to those who are lonely where isolation is more challenging. These simple gestures are a means to stay sane in the midst of this insane scenario. Acts of kindness make us feel good and they afford a sense of purpose. At 8 pm each night in our community, everyone howls in gratitude for the heroes working in essential jobs risking their lives for us. My family participates in this gesture of appreciation, and Copper sings his part in the chorus, too.

However, five weeks into sheltering-in-place does not advise complacency. It’s not over until it’s over. We still need to be responsible in taking precautions to help mitigate the spreading of the virus. We wash our hands a million times a day, hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes stay within reach, and we wear masks and gloves, not just to protect ourselves but to protect each other. Those who have lost loved ones to the virus remain in our hearts. This health crisis is serious and if any doubts arise, simply turn on the news. There is no exemption card. The effects from Covid-19 are devastating, overwhelming, and heartbreaking.

But while staying at home, the time is at hand to find beauty in each day: an opportunity to complete unfinished projects, spend quality time with family, get exercise, pick up a good book, put thoughts to paper, or step outside where flora and fauna are abundant. I revel in the gorgeous spring blooms where hope blossoms. They provide a sense of normalcy in these most abnormal circumstances. My family and friends are doing well and we are beyond grateful. And after all this time, thank you so much for stopping by, but mostly, I hope you’ll stay safe and healthy. 

For those of you who are new to my site or who haven’t visited my other pages, I encourage you to visit my “About Me” page and sign my “Guestbook.” 

In Love and Friendship,

Lauren

 

Lauren Scott (c) 2020

 

 

 

Ice Chips & Christmas

Dear Friends,

I finally had my ERCP last Thursday – the procedure I had to repeat (after an incomplete try in October), and then wait six weeks for. Anyway, it went smoothly this time. I had no moments of consciousness, knowing there was a tube down my throat causing panic. The Good news is the positive outcome….no auto-immune liver disease or cancer. The cause for my attack and hospital stay in September was another pesky gallstone in the bile duct. I’m SO grateful for this diagnosis.

ercp Nov 29 2018

I will say though, that if you’ve had your gallbladder out, know that gallstones can appear in the bile duct, which can be dangerous. If the bile duct becomes blocked then the bile stays in the liver making it sick. Not a good thing. I’ve learned a lot since my daughter’s auto-immune liver disease diagnosis six years ago. Things I never cared to know.

Anyway, they kept me overnight for monitoring, so I was home in the comfort of my own bed late Friday afternoon. Since then, I had some unpleasant after effects, but I’m feeling better now. To rest and eat lightly are doctor’s orders for a couple of weeks. I can do that. 🙂

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What remains surreal is that I’ve endured similar symptoms my daughter experiences with her disease. Maybe it’s the mom in me that has to truly feel the pain my daughter feels. I don’t know, but it’s very strange and coincidental. I have to add again that all of this is non-alcoholic related. Gallstones can cause havoc! 

Needless to say, I’ve lost momentum for blogging, and at this point, I’ve decided to take December off from WordPress to focus on a little “me time” and the Christmas season upon us. I will miss all of you, but I’ll look forward to returning in the new year refreshed and invigorated. Wow, 2019! Time, she is a flyin’!

So, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year full of new adventures, possibilities, and lots of Love! Lauren ❤🎅🎁🌲

Xmas 2017

Photo #1 – my hospital stay
Photo #2 – Google
Photo #3 – Copper during Christmas 2017 (my dog) 

P.S. I also have to express how grateful we are for the outstanding team of doctors at Kaiser. 

Aglow

 

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On the little country road
to the country town we go
where hands on the clock
tick slow, slow, slow
leading to reflection
of memories that flow
where thoughts transport
to a time that stays aglow

Lauren Scott (c) 2018
Photo: Google Images

You Rock – Own it!

Care less about what others think
Own up to your awesomeness
Nourish your hopes and dreams
Find light, even if it is obscured
Improvise, if necessary
Dance, celebrating the true you
Encourage others who live in darkness
Never give into negative criticism
Calm is always the best choice
Enjoy life by living in your happiness

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Everyone owns it, but sometimes it slips out of grip. The truth is even if you feel insecure, looking and acting confident will not only make you feel better, but others will perceive you in that positive way. Walk with your head up, chin up, and notice what and who is around, i.e., be aware of your surroundings. In doing so, you will appear strong to others. The more you practice this, the more confident you’ll feel, which will cause a ripple effect of positive thoughts, emotions, and actions in your life.

On this positive note, I wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving, and let us remember to be thankful not only on this one day, but throughout the entire year. And with these words, I continue to keep the fire victims in CA in my heart and prayers.

With Love & Friendship, Lauren 🧡🧡🧡
Photo: Google

 

Red Lipstick

With childlike fascination, I stood in
the doorway, watching her apply a
little powder to her face, a
touch of red to her lips.
But even without this process, her
reflection was flawless. Can I get
this moment again? This discovery of
solace? She carried herself like a
delicate rose – possibly the reason
she cared for the garden like
family. Beginning as a bride, she
walked with grace, wearing satin and
a smile, warming that Milwaukee day.
She loved more than her heart
was capable, and time helped to
recognize the feeling, the power of
motherhood, the joys, the heartbreak, the
worries that never dissipate. I keep
her words wrapped in clarity where
their wisdom is readily available, and
I long to ask questions that came
much too late, to share stories
of her grandchildren. She would delight
in their tales. Perhaps, again someday.

Lauren Scott (c) 2018

Glue

I see your broken pieces
I almost step on their sharpness
I want to be their healing glue

I know you’re weary
I understand every part of you
I want to be your shoulder

I know your heart aches
trying to make sense of it all
but I won’t let you fall
Let me be your remedy

Lauren Scott © 2018