Is this a test?

long shot

This past couple of weeks has been extremely difficult for a friend and mentor of mine. She has been quite ill. Another bird of a feather too has been having trouble sleeping due to his constant pain. There are many people I know who are having issues of physical pain and lack of sleep because of their discomfort. I am not sure what is going on  and I cannot help but wonder if this is in part due to global issues and the negative energy emanating from the strife overseas.

I know chronic pain well as I have Psoriatic Arthritis. It hit me very hard this weekend, rendering me unable to walk. When I went to bed, I was fine and I actually got up at one point in the night without difficulty. In the morning, I could not stand on my right ankle as the pain was excruciating. It was all swollen. I did nothing to cause this. I have never had a flare like this and in never in that ankle. I made my way through the day and hobbled like an old woman. Oh wait, I am an old woman. It kept me up most of the night, but this morning it is better, which is good because I have to work this Sunday.

Why does pain seem so prevalent now? The severity of the medical situations that I am aware of  seems to be pretty acute. One person I know has ovarian cancer and several of my coworkers are recently diagnosed with breast cancer. Another coworker just lost her 45 year old husband to cancer. Coworkers are falling and hurting themselves and several are just ill or suffering with chronic pain. It would be interesting to see if there was a way to measure the level of pain in the world right now to see if this is a global phenomenon. Is humanity feeling the discord and suffering caused by the monstrosities occurring in the Middle East?

One theory is that this is a test. As the possibility of global war looms in the future, and as the Quickening approaches, is this a test to see how strong we are? In my opinion, there is nothing more frightening than losing your health or battling with constant pain. If a force wanted to spread terror and weaken their enemy, making them suffer with illness would do it. And negative energy spreads like wildfire, much more easily than positive. We are mentally wired that way unfortunately.

But the strong will survive. I watch my friend with the ovarian cancer joke and laugh as if nothing is happening to her. This is her second round of chemo for it. She did not lose her hair this time. What strength and power she has and it humbles me. We need to focus on the survivors and absorb their power and strength. It gives me courage when I hear of the perseverance and moxie that people demonstrate in the line of fire of chronic and acute illnesses. We need to sing of these heroes. As a collective, we need to embrace and honor these warriors and change the fear to fortitude. We need to hold and comfort our wounded and infirmed and bolster their will power to continue to live without fear or shame. We need to create a shield to protect us from the epidemic of depression which I believe is a major contributor to illness. We need to rise against this onslaught and broadcast positive and healthy energy. Everyone can contribute to this cause.

To my friends and to the world, get better and well. We need you all.

 

 

 

 

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Finding my soul

leaves

About fourteen years ago I was trying to figure out what was missing from my life. I was a full time teacher and it fulfilled me in many ways. I had a lovely home and did not want for much in material ways. My marriage was at that point pretty much over and I had become numb to the relationship. Most of my life I had been called a feminist. The current people that I was allowed to socialize with (gives you a hint about the marriage) called me a feminazi. In my younger years, I never accepted being told I could not do something because I was a woman. I had buried the strong female warrior that resided in me in order to survive in a very male supremacist social circle. Even the wives were all in agreement that women were subservient to men and they chastised me for rebelling and being as independent as I was. I became isolated and victimized. Fortunately, I got divorced. At the time, it was horrible but it was my salvation.

I look back and see that a door had opened.  I pursued alternative avenues for connection. At night on the weekends, I joined a group of divorced people in a chat room. Some of us splintered off and we met every weekend for over a year. I started taking classes at night and pursued learning about a path that resonated with me. All the people, male and female, who I was surrounding myself with were all Witches. The classes were in Wicca. I was learning about the Goddess.

Less than a year after I had moved into my new house, divorced and happy, I became very ill. I had five blood clots and one was very dangerously positioned near my heart. I have written about this before. After what was supposed to be open heart surgery, and they discovered all the clots were gone, I was placed in a room with a very sick woman. Turns out she was a Witch. At one point our hospital room was filled with several visiting Witches.

All of these events and connections were signs of the Goddess. I felt very strong back then and somehow I lost it. I have felt disconnect, frail and unsure for a long time. I needed to work through this and try different avenues of religion and practices to see where I fit. I honor all those who have influenced me and offered guidance.

My studies have brought me full circle and back to where I began.  But this time, it is not about Wicca. It is about being a Witch and what that really means. The media and other religious connotations and images are so absolutely wrong about what a Witch truly is. I did not get all of this even myself when I first was learning fourteen years ago. Finding the Goddess and being a Witch is about finding the soul of a woman. Even men have a feminine side. It is about strength and love. It is not about spells: anyone can cast a spell. It is about the Light within.  It is about connecting with the Earth Mother. It is about doing what is right. It is not about denouncing Jesus or God or bashing anyone or anything else. It is total acceptance, including self-acceptance and loving who we are. It is finding your soul.

If anyone would like to read an excellent book on this subject I highly recommend the following book. Do not be misled by the word Power, it is not what you think.

Power of the Witch. Cabot, Laurie (2013-12-18). Random House Publishing Group.

 

Tenacity

door 123

noun: tenacity
1. the quality or fact of being able to grip something firmly; grip.
synonyms: persistence, determination, perseverance, doggedness, strength of purpose, tirelessness, indefatigability, resolution, resoluteness, resolve, firmness, patience, purposefulness…..

This word is very tricky. I am very tenacious in some things, but I am not patient. I do have determination and perseverance, but I do tire. At what point does the tenacious one become the fool? That is what popped in my head this morning.

I do not have a firm grip on my life, my purpose and reason for existence. For me, to just be is not enough. To some, a life of quiet and calm is perfect. They go through life with such ease.  I need something more in my life.

I have fought very hard to rid my life of constant fear. I have been successful to some extent. Fear is not my constant companion but it would be ludicrous to think that after a lifetime spent in worry and terror that all would suddenly disappear. I would say I have learned to handle it better and make it not so prevalent. Because my existence is now not spent in survival, it has created a void. I needed to be available though and so the work was necessary.

I need to find my passion. No one can tell me what this will be either. I am totally on my own to discover it. And like an explorer, I have been off on many tangents trying to figure out what it would be. And again, the word tenacious comes in to play as I a seeker with the utmost persistence. It would be a different thing if I was still in my youth, but alas, I am far from those years. Some days I feel like I am on a game show trying to select door number one, only to find it locked or empty.

But as I said I am tenacious. I just need to work on another T-word and that is ….. TRUST.

 

What awakening means to me

spt morning     What does awakening mean to me? It has taken a lot of thought to come up with an answer and I am not sure that there really is a definitive answer. It has to be something that is so personal that only the soul knows. Yet, there must be a level of established acknowledgement; there has to be a place of achievement. As I face the blank page and reminisce about the thoughts that I sought to answer this, I hear the birds in my garden. I see the golden sunlight streaming as it pokes its head over my garden fence. I hear a chipmunk scolding my dogs for interrupting its breakfast. I see the golden spots mixed within the dark green of the leaves in my trees. The air is sweet, filled with the dusky smell of damp earth and fall blooms. The dew is still cast on the lawn leaving a gossamer film that shimmers and sparkles in the light. My flowers are radiant in the saturation of colors of pink and red. Even the grain on the wooden deck demonstrates the life force there in. I am one with this all. To me, this is part of being awakened.

I walked through life surrounded in a claustrophobic wrapper that I thought was protecting me from being hurt anymore. I had become something I did not like. I was fearful all the time. I did not trust and I did not love much of anything. My anger and pain was a cloak that never came off but was becoming so heavy I could not move. And so I did not.

Without going into too much history, I reached an apex when one night in the light of the full moon. I stood within the parameters of my garden circle that I had created and cried with my arms out to the Goddess, Mother Moon and all the spirits that could hear me to heal me. My words were, “I do not want to be so afraid anymore.”  full moon

The rest of my life will be spent in healing. I am in such an early stage of being truly receptive to learn and understand my intended purpose. Part of that is awakening. I have spent my lifetime learning. But the learning I am doing now engages not only my brain, but my heart and soul. I feel, therefore I am. I see with my heart as well as my eyes. The compassion within has always been there, but not felt. Sometimes it can be overwhelming and so I progress in stages of release. My vulnerability is apparent to the predator that smells the eagerness in me to serve and love. I am learning to protect myself in a whole new manner that allows the innocent me to be wise. This too is part of awakening.

The decisive moment in awakening for me is that I decided to do any and all of this. I knew as I stood in the garden that night there was a better way. There was something within that I still cannot explain well that said, “stop, look, learn and be whole.” I knew enough to ask to be healed, even after years of attempts in finding salvation from external resources. It has to come from within. All the money and success and credentialing was never going to make me whole and I knew it intrinsically. There was a seed planted that needed to be nurtured and grow. I always had a hollow feeling within my solar plexus. It ached constantly as if something was haunting me. I thought it was because I was alone and scared and that was part of it. But now I know it is the true essence of me needing to be cultivated and cherished. I need to find my real place in this world and do what I am meant to do. But I understand that I need to grow into it because no plant flowers without early intervention. It needs nutrients and energy to reach its full potential.

So awakening to me is this process. It is opening the door and asking for help. It is the inner knowledge that something needs to change. It is the acceptance that there is more to life and that not everyone gets that and that is ok too. Awakening to me is like being in a dark void which is ok because there is no harm or danger, but there are also no feelings of any kind. And then one day, you come upon a door that is closed, but through the crack of the door jamb you see a brilliant light. You want to open it, but you think it is locked and you are not allowed. And then one day, something makes you push that door ajar. You peek through and see the most beautiful place you can imagine. And that vision is different for each person. You want to be of that place but fear holds you back. But something with in you tells you to take the next step, whatever that maybe. There are hands outstretched to guide you and support you. All you need to do is be available and aware. You need to be open and receptive and learn. You know mistakes will be made but it is all part of the process. Awakening is not the final result of anything. It is only the beginning. It is the opening portal and each step, each lesson, each breath taking moment, each sorrow and loss, and the resolve that there is a purpose to your life.Flying heron

In honor of John

don  1

Two years ago I walked in to a physical therapist’s office not knowing at all what I was facing. I think back to that time in my life and it is hard to remember the fear and pain I was in all the time. It was so pervasive that I was unable to even sense how deep it was. I just lived with it. I did not know what flight, fight or freeze was and how the limbic system worked. I did not understand much of anything that was going to be presented to me in the following years. I had expectations of walking into his office and he would look at me, give me ten exercises and tell me to be on my way. “See ya next week.” I was so wrong.

Every week I would show up and like a terrified animal, I would wrap myself up as tight as I could get and almost cringe as I walked into the office or into his treatment room. I hated that yellow room. It scared me. But the daemons were all of my own making. It took months before he could even touch me to help me. Looking back it is hard to remember what it felt to be that scared all the time. It is hard to remember how hypervigilant I was all the time. I was a terrified human being whose bruises were apparent to everyone. I felt disconnected to everyone and everything. No one knows how really bad it was except John, who stood at the edge of the rabbit hole and extended his hand. It was his pulling me up to the next level that allowed me to fight for myself and ask for more help. His investment in me gave me strength and hope, something no one else had ever done for me.

Something amazing happened. I began to trust him. It was his faith in me and the courage he gave me that allowed this healing to occur. I asked to heal and I made a commitment to work on healing. My wounds were very big, some so deep that I did not even know all the pieces. Together we would eradicate the fear as they surfaced and together we would face them. I spent hours writing and sending him my thoughts; pages and pages of it. He patiently would respond with encouragement and hope. It was his hope, his light that gave me the strength to continue.

And I did continue. I found other guides who joined my crusade to aide me. I would crash and burn continually. I literally fell on my face once, but I spent hours doing face plants in a metaphorical sense. I think back and I wonder why would anyone go through something like this? Well, like the chicken, I wanted to get to the other side. We even would fight as I thought I wanted something I felt he was not providing. He was wise and knew in time I would get what I needed. Like a young child, he nurtured me and showed me that my impatience was not a bad thing but I needed to learn to trust. I still struggle with this but I am so much better.

My wheel has turned and I continue to grow. I have been blessed with a new teacher who I connected with a year ago. She has taken me places I never would have dreamed of before I walked into that small office two years ago. I write this in an effort to encourage others who are as afraid as I was to seek help and support. I am hoping someday I will pay back all that I have received by helping others find the strength to heal. I will never have the words to express the extent of my gratitude for all those who have helped me.

Tomorrow is my last scheduled visit with John. It is bittersweet because he has been such a huge part of my life. But because of his work with me, I know it is time to move on. I am hoping he will let me see him periodically.

Mr. Borden, know this: I will love you eternally. My gratitude will be demonstrated by continuing to work and grow and not falter on this quest. I know I was a challenging windmill, sir. Never doubt your power and magic as you do possess these things. My light burns bright because of your light. It will be with me always. Thank you.

 

Higher Purpose

rain

I have been doing a lot of thinking about a concept I have been reading about and talking with people about. This concept is why we are here. It is the purpose of the individual spiritual journey that so many are on, including me. But I am struggling with the whole process. Well actually, the struggle is the process. The concept is our higher purpose. Everyone has one, so I am told. But it is our duty to find or figure out what that is. Oh, just to add to the mix, do not try too hard or force the issue. Oh, and do not over think it. And sadly, some people miss it completely. I do not see why this has to be so hard.

There are people out there whose energy is so magnetic and they seem so composed and sure of themselves. And because everything has a polar opposite, we all know people who are so negative and unhappy; you wonder how they get through their day. Everything for them is a painful struggle. All of this is energy from within. It is a choice also. Sadly, humans have a natural predisposition towards negativity. We are programed early on to not trust as a safety mechanism. If we did not have this awareness, the big cute fluffy cat we walked up to snuggle with would eat us. That is what lions do. We learn as we grow to trust less and less and unfortunately, we also learn to feed the negativity. The human race has been infected with a virus of hate and consumption all in the name of safety. “If I get rid of the threats, I will be safe. Therefore, I must destroy.”

For me, safety is a huge issue. I understand how it has shaped my life. I understand how and why it is hard for me to trust and feel comfortable in new environments. But I also knew instinctively that I had to find a better way to live the remaining years of my life. Our world is such a beautiful environment and I am attached to the greenness of the earth and powers of water. Gaia is such a gift. I have turned away from TV completely and rarely digest any form of reporting such a paper or magazine. Even so, I am totally aware of the destruction and evil that is growing rapidly on our planet. Yet, I am not afraid. I am drawn to help fight and save this world, even if it is only in a small manner.

Now is the time when people need to find their higher purpose. We all have a higher power to help us find what that purpose is. Now is the time to activate. Now is the time to wake up. It will be like a ripple in the water. It will start small with each gentle kindness. And exponentially it will build a powerful force to help repel the unacceptable forces that are set on destruction. In our own small circles, which may be all we can affect, the actions of love and kindness will intertwine with other small circles and connect to grow. This will help to bring balance and hope to our world. Everyone counts and everyone matters. And everyone can choose to help. We may never eradicate evil but it is time to make things better one kindness at a time.

 

Do nothing

flying heron

The process of living life has many challenges and they are unique to each person. What is also unique is how people deal with things. My way of dealing in the past has been to shut off in fear and respond in anger. It is a common response for people with PTSD. My physical body has a mind of its own and would perpetuate the situation with pain. It has taken me years to understand this and a lot of therapy and help from wonderful people. It has been explain thoroughly and with compassion and empathy. I am grateful and know I have been blessed to receive such support.

But the dilemmas keep coming and that’s life. Truly that it is  what life is about. We are given situations on a continuum: some good, some bad, some great, some tragic and some just perplexing. We must keep going. I have learned this and understand that present moment is not an escape from reality and issues, it is dealing full on with the moment with the clear understanding it is only what is now, not what has been or will be. But that does not make it have any less impact.

I am also learning (not quite there) that I cannot control the outcome by trying to change others. The only person I have control over is me. I do not even have control over the situation. I must deal head on with whatever it is and know the one thing I can control is my reaction. My reaction is as unique as I am and they vary from situation and issue. My biggest hurdle is my safety level. This has been extremely difficult for me to get a handle on. Because I often do not feel safe, I react (and I was going to type poorly but that is not fair either) with the methods I know. I have to build my repertoire of reactions. And one of the reactions I am going to work on is not feeling guilty for not being perfect and having reactions.

So in answer to the issue I am facing currently and in response to the question what are you going to do about it: the answer is NOTHING. I am going to do nothing about it. I am going to let go of the tight grip I have and see what happens. I am clearly aware that my safety feels threatened and I need to evaluate if that is truly the situation. And that is all I am going to do. One reaction at a time.

A Passing Storm

storm and heron

It is pouring out and we have had a series of thunderstorms blow in tonight. I love storms, except blizzards when I have to go somewhere. It can snow if I can stay home. But I have a passion for thunderstorms. It fits my mood tonight. I am not sure why I am so stormy…ok, I do. But it is alright. I will get through this.

0mist on the water

When someone like me goes through trying to negotiate life in the present moment, it takes an abundant amount of focus and stamina to stay in the present moment. After all this time of working things out, I still struggle with memories that haunt me. They are a mere vapor as opposed to the huge specters they used to be. But every once in a while, I get hooked up by their gossamer tentacles. This most recent visit is my father’s voice. In this case, it is not something about me as much as I hear myself sound like him. It is very disappointing that I hear my father’s anger and hatred in my own thoughts. I do not vocalize it, but I hear it in my head. An example of this is when I look at people and his judgment would pop in. I am not like him, but there is this moment when I hear his critical comment on EVERY thing. I think, “wow, I hope they do not see that on my face.” And if you know me, you know my face shows everything.

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But there are times when I do make a judgment and then say it. I can be very opinionated. I gave up for a long time and went belly up. And people would roll over me as I suffered in silence. Now I do ask for my needs to be met and I also know when it is not my turn. But lately, I see there are times when I am too strong or too weak and finding balance is tough.

Rain coming up the River

My dear friend told me that she was going through a phase of weird dreams. This weekend, the phase hit me. I had very lucid and mildly disturbing dreams. But I wake suddenly and feel the fear that was plaguing me in my dream. It is very frustrating to start your day with the first breath of morning being one of sadness or fear. This morning I actually had tears spill out of my eyes and I cannot tell you why. I think I shake it off, but then I know I have not as the day progresses. I am in a freeze and it manifests in my physically.

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I am also in a learning phase again of my journey to connect more pieces of my mind, body and soul. I have come to a place of feeling blocked. All of this will pass eventually, but for now it is unpleasant. Much like the storms that are blowing through tonight, the day will break eventually and things will be better than before.

sunset view

All photos @Jdemeis 2014  taken at the River

Turing 60

river morning

This coming week, we are off to the River. It is the first trip this year. Usually, we go up just when the ice is flowing off and the trees are just starting to wake up. But we did not this year. I need the River so much right now. Next Sunday, I will turn 60 and I cannot think of a better place to be. I am struggling mightily with this. I have all sorts of phobias and fears associated with aging. The alternative is not very enticing either. I am grateful for being alive this long.

fledgling eagle

The last couple of years have been a review of my past. I have been looking at things with the guidance of some wonderful people who have helped me to see things for what they are. I feel I have grown wiser and more balanced. I would not trade the experience for anything and yet, I never want to go through it again either.

But now, here is this number staring at me. I cannot avoid it. My mother did not see 60. She died at 59 from an aggressive lung cancer. I was 23. I thought she was not really old. I remember her mother, my Gram, when she was 65 and she WAS old. She had kinky grey hair, and boney gnarled fingers. Her eyes were sunken with dark circles. She had a tough life until her daughter, my Aunt took her in. My Aunt and Uncle were millionaires and they took great care of her. Gram died in her sleep at 92. My Aunt died bitter at 89. Her life was her husband and my Uncle died suddenly six years before and nothing was the same for her. She too, went in her sleep while in hospice care. Although my Aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer at 21, she survived with no re-occurrence. She and my Uncle had a great life, especially in retirement. I never saw my Aunt as being old.

My Aunts Ashes and Flowers

MY Aunt B

My father lived to be 71. He went in pieces. He had several bypass surgeries and had his leg amputated when he was in his early 50’s. His side of the family has factor V Leiden which is a blood condition that causes clots. They did not know much about it back then. His mother, my Nana, had it too. He slowly built up plague on his tubing and that caused him to lose the leg and other plumbing issues. It is his illness that causes me great fear. I also have the condition. There is nothing to do about it accept take Coumadin. I was diagnosed with it in 2003 when they found five clots, one located almost in my heart. I was totally blessed and have written about the experience as they all miraculously disappeared. But every time I have cramping in my legs, which I have often, I think…crap…here it comes.

dancing geese

This past month I have been having some major health issues. I have been like the golden goose and passing kidney stones. This condition came about from being over medicated years ago. The drugs caused my right kidney to stop working. I got it functioning back to 41%. This past few months, I have been passing stones again after none for several years. This past week, Tuesday, I was pleased to give birth to triplets, one stone being almost an inch long. One of my dearest friends, who lacks sympathy, has decided I should polish the stones (I have over 30 ) and open up a jewelry shop and call it Pissery Barn. In reaction to having a slow moving collection of stones in my urinary plumbing, I ended up becoming toxic. My output slowed down and what was coming out was battery acid. Yes, I have an immensely high threshold for pain. This was coming on for a couple of weeks. I finally went to the doctor who immediately reacted with more drugs. These drugs, I think, have caused another reaction which is to thin my blood too much. Yesterday and the night before, I was in horrible pain with leg cramps. The solution was to simply stop the drugs and eat a salad.

End of day

End of day

But all this, after not having anything so critical was very scary and disheartening. And then…there is turning 60.

I know I have so much to live for. This is the best time of my life so far. I have something I never had before and that is feeling safe. I think the fear of being so ill suddenly shook my newly built foundation. I have so little faith in western medicine. It was just like I was just getting my head fixed and my spirit in line and then the body went out of alignment. I have heard though that this is not that unusual in the healing process. I am hopeful that this too shall pass. I will find solace in the beauty and peace of the River and I am sure it will help heal me.

What amuses me is that the age of 61 does not bother me a bit. Maybe I will just skip 60.

all photos @jdemeis 2014

Floating

roses

New rose bush 2013

I can believe it is Sunday again. This week went by very rapidly. Makes me sad to think we are already at the end of May. My favorite month and time of year is June. Not because it is my birthday month, which it is, but because it is the most beautiful month of the year. The weather is usually perfect. The animals are visible and have babies. There herons are here and at the River. My plants are in and it is primetime for my favorite flower, the rose. A beautiful rose will capture my heart and my breath. I have several bushes, some I just put in last year and some have been here forever, and all are doing terrific.

open roses
I see a lot of growth happening with friends and myself. I have talked about this with my Spiritual Counselor who said this was a real phenomenon. It seems like the heavy stagnant energy that has been with us for a long while seems to be lifting. I know personally, I had a horrible winter which brought on some real moments of angst and fear. I felt lost and angry in all my relationships and felt I had fallen off my path and into a deep muddy gulch. I cannot express how grateful I am for the strong hands of support that helped me out and guided and worked with me to get back on my way. I highly recommend working with a mentor, guide, counselor and being with people who have similar interests to help facilitate growth and healing.

flying geese 1
Now is a great time for many to shake off the dust from their feathers and start to fly in the direction they feel is their path. For myself, I was stuck on having hard concrete path to follow. I have found it does not work that way. It is very difficult for someone like me who has been totally goal oriented and based her life on measurable achievement to refocus. This is a whole different approach for me to let go and float. I equate it to being on the air filled float in a pool or stream and just letting it take you where it wants to go. You do not fight it and you do not control it. I have discovered that when I let go, I automatically drift in a direction that really is amazing and where I wanted to go all along.

1 kid jump
The trick is to be in the right place to start. That takes lots of work to drop off unneeded baggage and things that weigh us down. It takes trust. That is the float or foundation that supports the journey. That has been extremely hard for me. Not so much trusting others, but to trust myself and to believe in myself. When my float is full of trust and confidence I move along but when it is deflated for whatever reason, I slow down.

geese to cove
We have to build at least a body of work to float on. This is figuring out the things you want in life and casting off the things that no longer work. I think of this as finding the right stream or body of water to float in or on. I am still working on this but as part of trusting, it is also forming on its own. I think we discover small rapids and difficult passages our whole life, but when the trust is there and the foundation is strong, the stream flows easily again and we prevail.

Annuals one of many flats

Annuals one of many flats

In upstate New York, this weekend heralds the summer with many traditions. People open their pools. The garden centers are mobbed as people rush to get their annuals and vegetables. Very few people grow from seed here as the season is too short. Farmers are turning their fields and planting. My backyard becomes my sanctuary. Even this space represents the feeling of this period of transition. When the snow finally left the yard, we did not have a lick of grass in most places. It was a mud pit and barren. With a little work and trust, it is now a lush green carpet.

I hope everyone enjoys their weekend.