Friday, February 27, 2015

In Pursuit of the Rare Snowy Owl

My not-so-little-girl and I recently had a much needed Starbucks date together. It went by far too fast and was almost over when an email suddenly popped up on my phone and I pulled out of the drive thru to read it. It was from someone I had been chatting with the night before about a rare snowy owl siting in our area. He sent me the link at that very moment. Perfect, I thought to myself.

"Oh my gosh Elizabeth. We have to go look for the snowy owl John told me about last night! He just emailed the link and it looks like it was spotted somewhere around here at this exact time!"

Her reply was along the lines of, "Say whaa??"

Somehow (and I'm not quite sure how) I convinced her to go with me afterward in search of this rare snowy owl recently spotted here on the lake as a way to extend our time together.

I explained that it was a very rare owl that a bird watcher had just told me about and if we were lucky enough to find it and see it, it was surely a sign. I thought at 13 she was finally used to my sometimes eccentric ideas, but nope. She wasn't.

"Um. A sign of exactly what, mom?" she replied in her cynical teenager voice.

"Just a sign that we are on the right track. We are where we are supposed to be. All is well. You know." I didn't even bother to look over at her as I knew what I would likely see. Eye roll :)

So we drove around a bit with our lattes and I couldn't help wondering where the time had gone. Sippy cups to skinny vanilla lattes.

Beach vacation 2002
Eventually we got a good laugh over all the sarcastic remarks flying.

"Oh what did you do this weekend? Oh me? I drove around owl watching with my mom."  

I had to admit it sounded a little odd and out of character even for me. But it didn't matter. I needed an excuse to be with her and connect. We needed more than the mom lectures and criticisms of late. The, "clean your room, why can't you pick up after yourself, and the, Mom you just don't understand what it's like", were building to epic proportions. Compounding all this were long work days and teenage hormones.

So this mom isn't the best with directions in general so a latitude and longitude location of something like 72 degrees north by 42 degrees east was pretty much useless. But quitters we are not and we continued on our quest, talking about random things and laughing together, something that we haven't done in a really long time. Too long. I have missed those moments more than I can say. These days I am often too tired to do all the things I used to do.

All our driving led us to the Country Club area. We ignored the "private drive" sign and snuck in to look around. No snowy owl. Driving out we were still looking when I suddenly saw a flash of the most brilliant red in a bush and I slammed on the brakes. There, perched in a barren bush, was this teeny tiny cardinal.


"So what?" you may ask.

Cardinals were a special thing with my mom and I. I had bought her a pretty advanced bird station one year for Mother's Day. I literally went out on a limb buying it. I had the worst track record of all my siblings in buying my mom a gift that she actually liked and didn't end up returning! But this was a game changer. It was squirrel proof and she got years and years of enjoyment feeding and watching the birds from her picture window. Little did I know then that it would become something to hold us together in life and in death. It turned out she could see the feeder until her very last day in the house she loved dearly. It was positioned perfectly in the yard so she could see the blue jays and the cardinals come and go even when her hospital bed eventually had made it's way to the living room.

Since she has died, the girls and I have noticed that cardinals always appear in the strangest places and at the most perfect times....

Back to topic...

So Elizabeth and I hopped out of the car and got some great pics from an arms length away as this little bird just sat there watching us. Without a doubt, I recognized it immediately as another Alchemist moment.

But the story doesn't end there. When we got home we were greeted by my little Olivia Grace who was excited to show off her own picture. While we were getting our photo of the little red cardinal in the bush, she & her dad were getting one of their own at the same time in our driveway.

You can almost see him in this picture hiding behind the center branches...


Some may say all this is silliness. Not me. We all have little signs on our journey if we look for them. Some may debate that these signs are merely what we want to see. And to that I say, yes, maybe they are. For me, the bird is a bird and always a bird. My noticing it is the gift. My noticing the bird and assigning meaning to it connects me to something bigger than myself. It connects me to the answer. It connects me to the lesson. And it is in that connection that I have the opportunity to ask the questions and grow and experience love and healing. The sign, therefore, could be said to be a manifestation of what is already there inside of me and inside of you.

Sometimes in the pursuit of the extraordinary, we come to find the beauty and meaning in the ordinary; in the journey. And maybe this is just a good reminder that rather than embarking so much on the pursuit of happiness, we should instead find our happiness in the pursuit.

I'm sure I will be thinking on this over my next few runs. Good night for now. Stay warm.

Starbucks addicts

My social media post last spring....

Olivia's cardinal

Elizabeth and my mom

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Slow and steady wins the race...

This recovery from the marathon has been slow going. I mean sloooowwwwww goinggggggg. And while I was grateful to have started running again after 4 months of stops and starts and injury. (Or 130 days but who's counting??) I was in desperate need of some kind of a victory.

Tonight I finally got one.

I recently made it back to a 5K distance but with 4/ 2 minute walk breaks. I hated needing to walk... I always have. As much as my head knew it would be a tough climb to get back to where I was, my heart didn't quite get it. In hindsight I ran faster than I probably should have last time, and while it felt good, I knew I needed to slow it down or I would risk re-injury.

So I changed up my strategy tonight. I traded in my speed and I slowed it down. I have always struggled with that but tonight a familiar whisper popped in my head out of no where as if to say, Go slow. No slower.