Gratitude tonight

I’m so grateful!

Rose3Rose and I got together twice in February for our annual magnolias photo shoot. The first time she came to me, in Oakland, and we were a bit early, plus we just haven’t found any fabulous trees here. So two weeks later I took Amtrak to Sacramento and we met in Capitol Park. I promise you, if you love magnolias, this is a destination for sure. They have one giant, really old and established tree just east of the capitol building, and a couple more good climbers right nearby. Rose has been climbing those trees since she was seven, the year we moved to California from Brooklyn.

Rose4The story of the magnolias

We started when Rose was a baby. We lived in Brooklyn, and I took her to the Botanical Gardens for the first time when she was just over a year old. The Brooklyn Botanical Gardens is the #1 destination spot for magnolias. What looks like acres of beautiful trees. And here’s something weird: In Brooklyn the mags bloom in April, around Easter time, when it’s usually in the 60s and warm enough that the delicious aroma hits your nose before you even get close.

In my part of California, though, it’s different. The mags appear at the end of January, and peak mid-February, when it’s often cold, gray and rainy. I’ve been here 19 years and I still am irked by that. But this year we got perfect weather and total gorgeousness.

magsblkTyounger01 magsgrayswtshirt01We’ve been through such a process with this lifetime photo project. For many years, Rose barely tolerated me dragging her along for this. It was great fodder for her as she perfected her skills as an eye-rolling, sigh-heaving kid, adolescent (the prime years), and young adult.

But she’d tolerate me, and the photo sessions. And when we stopped living together, when she went to live with her father at age 13, this annual expedition became even more important to me. With rare exceptions, I’d go get her and we’d go find a tree somewhere and take our pictures. One year, I remember, we found a tree in a parking lot, a small pathetic little magnolia tree with about three blossoms on it. And that was our photo shoot that year.

The move to her dad’s was instigated by me, out of complete desperation because she was troubled, violent, and I was incompetent to handle her, help her, give her what she needed, and I was depleted. And that’s another million stories.

Rose7A couple of years ago, something really interesting happened. There’s been so much healing in our mother-daughter dance together. All the agony, all the insanity, all the prayer, all the tears were completely worth it, because now I get moments like this one:

We’re walking along and Rose tells me not to worry.

“Don’t worry, Mom. Even when you get old, I’ll come and get you and push you in your wheelchair if I have to, to get us to the blooming magnolia trees every year.”

Wow. Just wow.

And here are our pictures from 2013. Even the magical one, with Rose in it twice. (I love Photoshop!)

montageI am grateful for my hands and eyes, and my love of making good art.

I am grateful for antibiotics, I guess. I’m grateful that the throbbing in my jaw is abating.

I am grateful for the beauty that is everywhere around me.

shadows I am grateful for the life bursting all around me, early Spring in the bay area. I think more pictures are coming soon.

I am grateful for the push and need and commitment around managing myself, my behaviors, my reactions. And for the ability to own up to when I lose it (ahem, and I got another chance today—oy vey!).

I am grateful for being moved by poignancy. I went to see Amour tonight. Powerful movie about aging and death.

montage2 I am grateful for silliness (see this picture above).

I am grateful for weekend farmers markets.

And I am grateful for you. Thank you for sharing this journey with me.

What are you grateful for today? Please share in the comments.


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I’m a barely tamed hippie, sage, seasoned, sarcastic (not all the time any more, but still). I’m a mom, a daughter, sister, a neighbor, and a friend. I’ve been on this meandering journey — like you, probably — seeking a better connection to and experience of peace, harmony, and fun in every bit of life. I’m single, quite good at it, and mostly love it. I’m here for the conversations I get to have with you, which these days center on exploring the mystery and beauty of life, work, health, aging, and creative expression. Want to know a little more about me and my journey? Explore the site. Read the blog. Connect with me on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.

Join the conversation!

  1. Sue, I am grateful for you! Such a beautiful post and photos, and the important reminder to focus on all there is to be grateful for. See you soon for real!

  2. Thank you Sue, such a lovely story I am grateful that I now have a Magnolia tree of my own. I have a new cottage in Ontario with a Magnolia tree growing on the West side by my bedroom. I will be happy to share a photo with you in May when I return from Florida. I hope to be driving through Georgia and see the Magnolia trees then. I am grateful that I am able to travel to see the beautiful landscape all around me.

    • @Visma, thanks so much for your lovely words. I can’t wait to see your magnolia tree in bloom! The magnolias in Georgia, at least some of them, are very different: tall, stately, big shiny leaves, and huge waxy flowers. Do you know that magnolias are also used by the Chinese in herbal medicine? The aromatic bark is used to promote gastrointestinal qi. Love that!

  3. Hello There,
    My name is Melisa and I’m a Professional Blogger. I have more than 3+ yrs of experience writing for the web and have covered plenty of interesting topics.
    I came across your blog and was wondering if you would be interested in allowing me to write relevant & useful topics on your blog at no cost.
    At this point of my writing career, I simply want to get more visibility for my writing and I will write for free as long as you are fine with me adding a small author bio section following the blog post about myself.
    Please let me know if you are interested and if you’d like for me to submit a sample blog post for your approval.
    Thanks a bunch,

    • @Melisa Ramsey Hi there. Thanks for your comment. You can reach me through the connect page (in the top nav) if you’d like, we can have this conversation there. Thanks so much for your interest. Sue

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