The cushions on my chaise lounge chairs have seen their last summer. Actually, they saw their last summer last summer, but I covered the worn seats by throwing some festive old serapes across the chairs to get me through another summer with the intention of buying new cushions and chairs next spring.

Unexpectedly, the snow started to fall last week (really a big surprise since I live in the mountains of Idaho), and I knew it was time to put the summer patio furniture away, minus the cushions.

I was about to head out after getting my gloves and coat secured when I saw a strange sight out of my window. There was our favorite chipmunk, Chip, with a beard like a mini Santa perched on the top of my lounge chair.

As I watched in wonder he jumped back on the cushion stuffed the beard in his mouth and pulled a foot long piece of stuffing out of the seat. After gathering it up, he jumped down with ease and ran off to the other side of the house. It’s been two weeks now and he’s still at it. He probably couldn’t believe his luck to find tons of insulation for his winter home. Now I feel obliged to leave the cushions out for as long as he has need of them.

We were so enchanted with his abilities we placed an open bag of peanuts on the seat for him. That’s gone now too. 

It’s common after a loss of a loved one to focus on weird, unimportant moments in life. By being totally involved in watching nature, it transports us away from our daily thoughts. Taking walks, standing by an ocean, watching birds interact or even watching your dog run after a ball takes you out of yourself for a few moments.

That is what mediation does for us, places us on a higher level, a more astute level so we can begin to heal and move forward from within. We can remember the past but we cannot hold on to it. We try to control everything for fear of something else happening to us, but we do not have that power. Let go, release your pain and embrace your spirit-child who is always by your side. 

As the holidays approach, plan some new traditions to add to the days ahead. If you keep everything the same, you will be stuck in memories. Some memories are good and some only allow you to hold still and be sad. This is the time to move from self to open arms, for all the new beautiful things coming your way, and they are coming.

 Vicky Bates 2011 



Vicky Bates

After 18 years of marriage and career, we decided to adopt two babies. My oldest had many health issues which after 10 years led to a fatal anaphylactic shock. I believe that my spiritual beliefs helped me understand that the tragedies we face challenge us to confront our pain and slowly work through it. That is what I did through helping with hospice and watching the process of transition for the dying and seeing that even in the hardest times the gentle kindness of humor is a necessary tool.

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