1426. To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

To be nobody but yourself in a world
that’s doing its best to make you somebody else,
is to fight the hardest battle you’re very going to fight.
~e. e. cummings

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authentic: 1. true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character is sincere and authentic with no pretensions

After my daughter was born, I was standing one day outside the nursery looking at her. There she was lying side by side with the 50+ other children who’d be born that day, and none of them looked anything alike. It dawned on me then that it didn’t matter to her or me, for all she knew was to be was exactly who and what she had just been born to be. But soon she began to grow and learn like all children, and it wasn’t long before she could walk and talk as well as listen to what was being said around her. Sadly one day she heard someone make fun of her birthmark, and it hurt her feelings. Then there was the salesman at a shoe store who made a big deal about her little feet that turned in a bit too much. When he sent us to another store for “corrective” shoes, again her little sensitive feelings got hurt from the perception that she was not “normal.” And on and on stories like that go, not just for her, but for all of us. Our defining moments are certainly not all the same as hers, but similar incidents began way, way back there to make all of us have doubts and fears that we were somehow not as we should be. And then our school days began, and belittling voices became an almost daily thing. Moreover with every advancing year, the voices of derision and mockery multiplied, growing louder and more demanding. The rest is her story to tell, and I’ll leave that up to her to do so when and if she gets ready some day.

But I can give you a look at how it went for me. It started with the reality that I am quite a bit taller than most girls/women, and so I was called a giant and made fun of as such. I wear glasses and I was called the unflattering moniker, “4” eyes; I have lots and lots of freckles and was teased about having the uncomely brown “spots;” I used to be extremely skinny and was called names like stick girl and so on. So how did I cope with things like these and more that hurt my feelings, and how did I attempt to “fit in.” Well, in the beginning I tried anything and everything to change who I was based solely on superficial aspects. For it didn’t matter one iota to the mockers that I’m intelligent or that I’m sensitive or that I’m creative or that I’m compassionate/caring or that I’m fun-loving and have a great sense of humor and so on. Simply put, I handed myself over to a self-inflicted betrayal as well as forfeiting my power to grow into all that I was meant to be and giving up my freedom to the “they,” that mysterious, mystically misguiding, detrimentally defining “they.” How did I do it? By slumping down in chairs so as not to appear so tall, by taking my glasses off and hiding them in my pocket while I struggled to see, by buying gallons of lotions that supposedly removed freckles, by wearing clothes that made me look less thin and then eventually by eating too much so as not to be too thin any longer. And I became very shy and withdrawn so as keep myself from being open to ridicule for saying something the “they” deemed silly or not “cool.” In other words I changed my façade and neglected things, far, far more important things that made me uniquely me. It wasn’t a version of me; it was simply a deception, a falsehood, a lie!!!

To be continued…

See, they are all false! Their deeds amount to nothing; their images are but wind and confusion. ~Isaiah 41:29  ✝

**Left photo above is my daughter; right photo is myself at about the same age.

1338. The joyful heart sees and reads the world with a sense of freedom and graciousness. John O’Donohue

Like the joy of the sea coming home to shore,
May the relief of laughter rinse through your soul.

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As the wind loves to call things to dance,
May your gravity by lightened by grace.

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Like the dignity of moonlight restoring the earth,
May your thoughts incline with reverence and respect.

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As water takes whatever shape it is in,
So free may you be about who you become.

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As silence smiles on the other side of what’s said,
May your sense of irony bring perspective.

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As time remains free of all that it frames,
May your mind stay clear of all it names.

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May your prayer of listening deepen enough
to hear in the depths the laughter of god. ~John O’Donohue

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Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. ~Psalm 100:2  ✝

**All photos found on Pinterest;
special effects on the last two were done by me on iPiccy

1300. The child I was is just one breath away from me. ~Sheniz Janmohamed, a Canadian born writer

…little faces sweetened laughter
bubbling- – dappled golden jeweled memories
scatter…
delightful as butterfly wings carry
wishful mind explosions
in brilliantly colored balloons,
a to and fro gliding spin..
.
~Excerpted lines from a poem by Sue Ashby posted on https://scvincent.com/2016/11/14/tire-swing-dreams-by-sue-ashby/

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Sunday afternoon, I was working in a flowerbed in my front yard and listening to young children laughing as they played across the street. It reminded me so much of times when my two sisters and I played as children in California. Those were halcyon days indeed, and I yet have such fond and venerated memories of those early days. Then on Monday I read Ashby’s poem above and again the revered memories came flooding back in the kind of “wishful mind explosions” of which she spoke. On top of that, when we drove by a local school yesterday, the children were out playing on the playground, another prized memory of mine, and so boom, the “brilliantly colored balloons” glided even higher still. And now today two photo images I found on Pinterest sent the lovely balloons soaring almost to the moon and back! And no, some elderly dementia has not set in (she say’s tongue in cheek); these things have just helped me touch base with my inner child, a personage with whom I frequently like to visit. In fact it was a healing mentor decades ago who told me that it was a must to not only stay in touch with our “inner child” but it’s also essential to feed and nourish that child on a regular basis! Thus in these troubling times especially, it’s of utmost importance to remember and reconnect with the childhood “joy and intense happiness” as well as the “real meaning of life” spoken about in the lines below. Like Janmohamed and me, he too seems to believe that we should always remain “just one breath away” from childhood. Why so? I believe it’s because it is the part of us closest to the sacred breath of life blown into us by Yahweh, the Maker of heaven and earth.

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When I look back at that freedom of childhood,
which is in a way infinite, and at all the joy
and the intense happiness, now lost,
I sometimes think that childhood is where
the real meaning of life is located,
and that we, adults, are its
servants – that that’s our purpose.
~Karl Ove Knausgaard

Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men! ~Psalm 107:8  ✝

**All images via Pinterest; collage by Natalie. The images of the girls swinging on the beach is a especially fond memory of mine.

1283. A secret freedom opens through a crevice you can barely see. ~Rumi

Every morning, when we wake up,
we have twenty-four brand-new hours to live.
What a precious gift! We have the capacity
to live in a way that these twenty-four hours
will bring peace, joy, and happiness
to ourselves and others.
~Thich Nhat Hanh

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As a bird soars high
In the free holding of the wind,
Clear of the certainty of the ground,
Opening the imagination of wings
Into the grace of emptiness
To fulfill new voyagings,
May your life awaken
To the call of its freedom.
~Excerpt from a blessing
by John O’Donohue

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. ~2 Corinthians 3:17  ✝

**Image taken by Natalie; special effects done on iPiccy

1212. Freedom is the oxygen of the soul. ~Moshe Dayan

Freedom has its life in the hearts,
the actions, the spirit of men and
so it must be daily earned and refreshed —
else like a flower cut from its life-
giving roots, it will wither and die.
~Dwight D. Eisenhower

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For Freedom
As a bird soars high
In the free holding of the wind,
Clear of the certainty of ground,
Opening the imagination of wings
Into the grace of emptiness
To fulfill new voyagings,
May your life awaken
To the call of its freedom.
As the ocean absolves itself
Of the expectation of land,
Approaching only In the form of waves
That fill and pleat and fall
With such gradual elegance
As to make of the limit
A sonorous threshold
Whose music echoes back among
The give and strain of memory,
Thus may your heart know the patience
That can draw infinity from limitation.
~Excerpted lines
by 
John O’Donohue

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. ~Excerpt from Galatians 5:12  ✝

**Image found on Pinterest

1188. Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. ~Chief Seattle

What is life?
It is the flash of a firefly in the night.
It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime.
It is the little shadow which runs across
the grass and loses itself in the sunset.
~Crowfoot, Blackfoot warrior and orator

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Earth teach me quiet ~ as the grasses are still with new light.
Earth teach me suffering ~ as old stones suffer with memory.
Earth teach me humility ~ as blossoms are humble with beginning.
Earth teach me caring ~ as mothers nurture their young.
Earth teach me courage ~ as the tree that stands alone.
Earth teach me limitation ~ as the ant that crawls on the ground.
Earth teach me freedom ~ as the eagle that soars in the sky.
Earth teach me acceptance ~ as the leaves that die each fall.
Earth teach me renewal ~ as the seed that rises in the spring.
Earth teach me to forget myself ~ as melted snow forgets its life.
Earth teach me to remember kindness ~ as dry fields weep with rain.
~A Ute Prayer

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Oh Lord, whose voice I hear in the winds
and whose breath I feel moving in and out of me,
the very breath that gives life to me and all living things.
I come before you, as one of your children to ask that
You continue to reveal Yourself through Creation’s beauty.
May my hands always respect the things you’ve created;
May my ears be ever sharp to hear your voice; and
May I be wise enough to perceive the lessons
hidden in all things made of Your hands.
~My prayer based on one by
Chief Yellow Lark of the Lakota Sioux

The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life. ~Job 33:4  ✝

**Three images via Pinterest; the bottom picture of the granite boulders taken by me on what were once First Nation’s lands at Medicine Park, Oklahoma

1079. I hope everyone that is reading this is having a really good day. If not, just know that in every new minute that passes you have an opportunity to change that. ~Gillian Anderson

February 26th is not a holiday nor necessarily a particularly important day for that matter, but it is a significant day for me. A year ago today I was in surgery getting my left knee replaced which has been a huge success and blessing for me. Then today after returning home from my end of the year check up on it, I noticed that again one of my early posts had been viewed making it still the most viewed and liked one to date. So I decided to repost it to commemorate blessings and favorable outcomes in general. The only thing I’ve changed about it is the photo.

46. A Robin Redbreast in a cage puts all Heaven in a rage. ~William Blake
FEBRUARY 26, 2013 BY NATALIESCARBERRY

When father takes his spade to dig
then Robin comes along;
And sits upon a little twig
And sings a little song.
~Laurence Alma-Tadema

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The introductory line in the title is from Blake’s “Auguries of Innocence,” a somewhat lengthy poem consisting of a series of paradoxes in which Blake juxtaposes innocence with evil and corruption. The word augury in the title means omen or token, and the robin is the poem’s first noted “augury of innocence.”  The robin’s song, personality, and countenance are such that it’s obvious why the poet saw the act of putting one in a cage as not only an enraging violation but also as a profound perversion of holiness.  The sweet song and colorful markings of a robin make the bird a delightful harbinger of spring’s infancy and innocence.  Looking forward to its coming is one of my favorite rites in spring’s passage, and like “all heaven” I’d be incensed if the bird’s freedom were taken away and its song silenced.  Below is a legend about the robin that again ties the bird to the blameless and sacred.  Although the truthfulness of legends is questionable, I’m fascinated that somehow, somewhere, and in some way the robin was connected to the Messiah.

The Legend of the First Robin
One day, long ago, a little bird in Jerusalem saw a large crowd gathered around a man carrying a heavy wooden cross.  On the man’s head was a crown made from a thorn branch.  The thorns were long and sharp.  The little bird saw that the thorns were hurting the man.  It wanted to help Him, so it flew down and took the longest, sharpest thorn in its tiny beak.  The bird tugged and pulled until the thorn snapped from the branch.  Then a strange thing happened.  A drop of blood fell onto the bird’s breast, staining it bright red.  The stain never went away.  And so today the robin proudly wears a red-breast, because it helped a man named Jesus.

“But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you.  Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this?  In His hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind. . .”  ~Job 12:7-10   ✝