All posts tagged gratitude

Being Thankful: Mom’s Bragging Rights!

Published November 28, 2014 by Susan Woodward

While I am grateful for everything in my life all year long, I feel especially blessed as we enter the winter holiday season. Here is a picture of what I am most grateful for:

The Woodward/Everson ClanThis is my family…four generations of us! It includes my dad and step-mom, my children’s grandmother on their father’s side, and Preston’s grandmother. My generation is represented by my brother-in-law, the father of my children and his partner, and Preston’s mom. All five of my children are there with their spouses/significant others, as well as all six of my grandchildren!

I feel truly blessed to have all these people in my life, but I am feeling even more blessed after getting this picture on Thanksgiving Day:

Everson FamilyThe bride and groom from the above picture announced that they are expecting a new arrival this summer! And it just so happens I already have travel plans to visit at that time with my eldest and her daughter…so now I hope to be there for the arrival of grandchild #7!

The people in my life are my greatest gifts, and I vow never to lose sight of that. They give me purpose and validate that, in spite of the multitude of mistakes I have made, my life is pretty damned wonderful. We tease each other mercilessly, but that just gives testament to the bond we have.

In case I don’t say it enough, I LOVE my kids!

My Illy: 1503846_874529102591995_1346509648119248359_n

Phlebotomist by day, aerial artist by night! I do have to say, though, that she looks like a superhero here…as right she should! She works hard to care for her beautiful daughter, Jordan.

I am thankful for my strong, creative eldest daughter.

Oh, and she decorates cakes on the side and cooks up a storm!





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And now Jordan is getting into the act!

JimMy Jim:

For someone who had such a rough start at arriving nine weeks early and very ill, I am so blessed to have this loving, compassionate man as my son. I am so proud of him for accepting his girlfriend Lisa’s children into his heart and for helping to raise them as his own.

He is also a great keyboard player!


Jim, Lisa and the kids close up

1901804_10154694748580431_6627833825943590068_nRobin Bills Fan

My Robin:

Dr. Robin… I am so proud of you! She and her husband Sean work hard to make a home with their little Dolly.

Not only is she compassionate and knowledgeable in her field, she is a terrific mom who loves to keep things simple. She cooks, cans, and sews like a pro. They are also staunch Buffalo Bills fans who love the outdoors!!

Happy Family

Robin and Sean



She looks like a sweet little girl, but this is one tough US Marine who also had no fear when playing women’s rugby in high school. I would think she’d be the Corps’ secret weapon because she you wouldn’t think she could lay you out flat without batting an eye.  That’s my Sarah Bear!

I am so proud of how much she has accomplished, although I miss her all the way on the other side of the continent. She has stepped in to love not only her husband Preston, but his daughter Chloe. And now they are expecting a wee one of their own!


Sarah USMC marching

Sarah USMC

Sarah Preston Chloe

Sarah and Preston USMC ball

My Joe:Joe graduatioon

Strong, smart, and incredibly sweet when it comes to his nieces and nephew! He scares me sometimes because it seems he has no fear, whether it is playing football, rugby, lacrosse, soccer…or his latest sport, longboarding! That is the one that scares me the most, although I cannot help but admire his fearlessness and his strength! He is also self-taught on the guitar, and I love to hear him play.

Joe training

joe longboarding

JoeWell, maybe Dolly’s not such a fan of the guitar…

Joe and Jojo

To my wonderful children and grandchildren, thank you for who you are and all that you do. I love you all so much, and am especially thankful to have you in my life.


Published November 25, 2011 by Susan Woodward

I’d mentioned before that two cards kept appearing in my readings.  I’ve already talked about The Hermit, and today I want to examine the Nine of Pentacles.  Both have to do with solitude… but the Nine adds the element of gratitude.

This card is gorgeous.  I love the colors and the flowing lines.  I especially love how, although the woman is alone, she seems not to be concerned about that.  Life springs out of her creative expression, and the warm colors suggest that she is comfortable in her solitude.  Purple is a color of creativity, while green is life… my two favorite colors in the world.  With the water-based conch shells, it suggests that her world and music are filled with emotion, and the fact that she is seated on a conch suggests that she is comfortable in her emotional state.  She holds her head high while admiring the fruit of her talent.  The roots of the tree spread out wide on the earth, as do the roots that seem to spring from the shell.  She is grounded.   The branches of the tree reach high into the Universe, suggesting that her music is not meant to be kept to herself, even though she is alone in composing it.  Her hands seem relaxed as they are poised above the keyboard, and I imagine that if I could see her face, it too would be in a peaceful state.

I want that.  If I must be alone for now, I want it to be a peaceful solitude.  I want life to spring from my creative endeavors, whether it comes from my novel, my guided visualizations, my poetry, my music, or my theatrical performances… I want to bring life to my art.

I also want to find that sense of solace from being alone.  What I wish is to be comfortable in my solitude instead of feeling lonely.  Going from a house full of people to an apartment by myself is still an adjustment, even after a year and a half.   Sometimes it’s just too quiet.  What I am attempting to do is fill that quiet with the words of the my characters and the sounds of the world I am creating in my novel.

Snape could never be in this picture… and that makes me feel sad for people like him in this world.  My heart goes out to those who have loved and lost because I have been there.  However, the most important thing I can do for myself is not to get stuck in old memories.  I am ready to make new ones, even if I have to do it alone.  Would I be willing to accept someone into my world?  Of course… but not simply to alleviate any loneliness I feel.  When and if I were to be with someone, it would have to be a coming together of two like souls.  Convenience is not an option; that’s too easy.   I want something that has time to blossom and grow, like the tree springing forth in the picture.   Someone who also has a creative spirit who will help feed that tree, and not allow it to wither and die away.

I did that.  I allowed my creative writing to wither away because someone else didn’t appreciate what I wanted to do.  I gave in to doing what he wanted and stepped back from the things that were really a part of my soul.   Meditation and a soul retrieval ritual helped me to reclaim that part of me, and I will not let it go again.   A life of creativity is what I am called to.

And so I will write.  I will continue to write here, even if no one ever reads these words.   Like the tree, I give these words to the Universe.  I am perfectly okay with simply sending them out there.  Who knows where they will land, if they even do?

Today, as the sun streams in through the windows this gorgeous day-after-Thanksgiving, I will write.  I will be filled with gratitude that I have been given the gift of time to do so as well as a creative spirit.  I shall fill the silence with soft music and allow my imagination to fly me to the world I am creating through my fingertips.   Perhaps one day the world will share this imaginative journey with me when I finally publish the fruits of my solitary labor.

A Garden of Memories: Freedom to Live

Published October 16, 2011 by Susan Woodward

Close your eyes and relax.  Now take three deep breaths: one for body, one for mind, and one for spirit.  Take one last very deep breath and hold it.  Just when you think you cannot hold the breath any longer, pull in just a bit more air.  Again, when you feel as if you cannot continue holding the breath, pull in just a little more.  When you finally do release your breath, do so very slowly in a long continuous exhale until you have released all that you were holding.  Breathe slowly and deeply as you continue to relax.  Relax all the muscles of your body: your legs, your arms, your shoulders, and your jaw.  Completely relax.

Imagine that you are sinking down into the furniture, and in turn sinking through the floor.  Allow yourself to continue sinking down and down, all the while feeling completely relaxed.  You pass deep down into the earth and suddenly find yourself in a cavern, nestled comfortably in the bottom of a shallow boat.  There are soft blankets around you, keeping you safe, warm, and relaxed.  The boat is caught by the current of a narrow river, and you find yourself floating along, emerging from the darkness of the cave, and fully surrounded by a protective white light.  The river flows through a lush green forest, and the sky above is a deep blue.  You are able to lie back, looking up at the trees as the boat continues to float through the forest.  As you float along, the tree branches overhead become more intertwined, and the boat enters what seems to be a tunnel through the trees.  Even though the sun is now only filtering through the trees, you still feel relaxed and centered as the boat continues on its course.  The sound of birdsong lulls you into a deeper state of relaxation, and you watch the gentle breeze rippling the leaves above you.

After a while, the boat gently comes to a stop at a sandy bank.  You are now deep in the forest, and the birdsong has begun to dissipate.  The only sound at the moment is the gentle rustling of the breeze.

Sit up and look around.  You have returned to the place where you first found the mirror and saw the face of your inner heroic archetype.  How does it feel to be back here?  Step out of the boat.  There is sand mixed with the soft grass on the bank, and it is pleasurable to stand there in your bare feet.  Explore the small glade in which you find yourself.  One thing you are particularly pleased to see is a very large, very old tree.  The last time you were here, the tree had been destroyed, but here it is, fully restored.   Look around.  Everything is in bloom, and the leaves and grasses are greener than you ever remember them.  How do you feel being here?

In particular, several plants or flowers catch your eye.  Many of those that stand out for you are those that you’d noted while on your journey.  What are they?  What significance might these particular plants hold for you?  Instead of merely writing down which plants you see today, gather a couple of each to take with you.  Near the tree you find a small trowel and some potting containers.  Carefully dig up each plant or flower, being mindful of the roots.  Place each one into its own container and add a bit of earth to protect the delicate roots.  Each of these will be replanted into your own little garden just outside the door of your special place as a reminder of your journey.  What will each plant or flower remind you of?  How does that demonstrate some particular significance from your journey?

Once you have potted all the plants and flowers that you intend to take with you, gently place them in the stern of the boat.  It begins to look like a floating garden, and the mixture of colors and scents is pleasing.  Put the trowel back next to the tree for the next time you visit.  While you are doing that, a slight breeze carries the sound of your name.  Smiling, you recognize the voice as that of your inner heroic archetype.  Stand up with your arms extended fully, and allow the breeze to blow over you.  Your name sounds like music in the air, allowing you to feel as if this is your personal spot in the forest that no one else can experience in the same way.  The zephyr is like an embrace.  How does that make you feel?  What thoughts do you have about being in this place?  You know now that you can return here any time you wish, for it has claimed a part of you.  Any time you wish to contemplate life’s journey, or work out a problem, or simply just to be still, you can get into your boat and come back.

Looking around one last time, turn and head for the boat.  It looks beautiful with all the flowers and plants in it.  Just as you begin to walk towards your boat, a glint of light off to the right of your peripheral vision catches your attention.  It is coming from the hole in the tree.  Again, you hear your name on the breeze.  Go to the tree to see what it is.  Reaching in, you find that something has been left for you.  When you pull it out, you discover that your special mirror has been restored.  Look into it.  Your inner archetype is smiling back at you.  He/she is thanking you for honoring him/her with your journey.  What else does he/she say to you?  What words of wisdom are you left with?  How do you feel as you look into his/her eyes once more?

As you continue to look at the reflection, the image begins to swirl and morph into the reflection that you know best.  The changes that took place on the journey have become a permanent part of you and are evident in your appearance.  Gaze at the image that you present to the world.  How does this make you feel?

The completion of this journey has left you with many possibilities for the future.  Where is it you wish to go next?  What are your plans for future excursions?  What do you intend to do with what you’ve learned from this journey just ended?  How can you encourage others to follow their own paths?  These are questions that will stay with you as you move on to the next stage of your life.  How do you feel about that?

Take the mirror with you as you enter the boat.  Anytime you wish to remember that part of yourself, you need turn no further than your own reflection.  Climb into your boat once more, and pull the warm blankets around you.  Take a long look at your garden that you intend to transplant near the door of your special place.  Its beauty makes you smile before lying down for the ride back.  Snuggle comfortably beneath the blankets and settle yourself.

This time the boat begins to float in the opposite direction, taking you back from whence you came.  Gaze up at the trees, watching the ripples of the breeze fluttering through the leaves.  Soon you hear the birdsong once more.  Emerging from the tunnel of trees into a place where the sky is clearly visible, you notice that it has become night, and the stars are twinkling brightly overhead.  While you are looking up, a shooting star streaks across the sky.  Make a wish.  What is it you wish for?  Keep looking toward the sky until it disappears from view as the boat slips into the cave once more.  Imagine how you plan to arrange your garden with your beautiful, fragrant treasures.  Take in a deep breath and drink in their fragrance once more as you begin to feel yourself rising from the soft blankets in the boat.  You know that you can go to your special room any time you wish as well.  Your journal and your book of symbolism will always be available for you to return to whenever you want to read through them.  You will be able to take your books to sit with them next to your blooming garden and remember the lessons of your journey.

As you continue to rise, you become more and more aware of your surroundings, and soon you are able to sense the furniture beneath you.  This is the room from which you began this journey not so very long ago.  As you become more and more aware of the room around you, you remember the face in the mirror, your beautiful flowers, and your special places in your imagination.  These images will stay with you as you awaken from your rest.

Taking three deep breaths, one for body, one for mind, and one for spirit, you open your eyes to find yourself in a familiar place.


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