Vibrant Joy

As I sat this evening, sipping hot tea, I considered what to write about. I have projects and stories in the unfolding process. I am not ready to post about those. Possibilities came to mind, and as I did an inward check about each one, I glanced down into my cup of tea…and there I found my inspiration.

The cup I most frequently use for hot tea was a gift to me from my daughter Adriel. The glass mug has three butterflies etched on its sides. As I stared into the depths of my tea, the image of a butterfly appeared on the surface, shimmering amid ripples of reflected light.

I was enchanted. This is the second time I’ve seen a butterfly “floating” in my tea. The first time it happened, I was in the garden and the sun shining through the glass cast a shadow. Tonight I am snuggled beneath a soft blanket, with my cat Angel stretched out on my lap. It is very cold outside, and quite dark. The light from the overhead fixture is creating this dancing image and the accompanying sparkles of light.

Smiling over the simple beauty captured within my cup of rose hips tea, the word that rose within was Joy. After allowing myself several minutes to experience that joy, I checked inward for confirmation that this was my topic for tonight’s blog post. My smile broadened. It was.

Always one for going deeper into the moment, I checked the symbolism for butterflies. I know the winged beauties represent transformation and change. Was there a connection between the butterfly and joy?

Looking up butterfly symbolism, I was delighted to find that there is. I found that butterflies are considered magical. They represent spiritual rebirth and transformation, as I knew, and creativity, endless potential, vibrant joy, and the ability to experience the wonder of life. Butterflies also signify the presence of the Divine.

Another site mentioned that the Celtic people consider the butterfly a symbol of prosperity, honor, joy, and good fortune. To the Celts, they represent the soul. As one with very strong Celtic roots, this resonated deeply with me.

The information that I looked up confirmed what I “heard” in my mind as I stared at the butterfly shimmering in my tea…Joy. Vibrant joy, indeed.

And what about the kind of herbal tea I was drinking? Was there anything symbolic about the rose hips tea that was cradling my butterfly of joy? Roses typically represent love and relationships. However, I felt inspired to look up rose hips in my Life Changing Foods book, by Anthony William. Rose hips contain the most bioavailable form of vitamin C in existence. The vitamin C in rose hips is more anti-inflammatory than from any other source. It helps to boost the immune system and fights all types of infections. This is good! I have been drinking rose hips tea for about ten days now, enjoying a cup every afternoon or evening.

However, it was the section in the chapter on rose hips, under the header Spiritual Lesson, that touched my heart, and made my scalp and face tingle, Spirit’s signal to me that I am on the right track. Anthony writes,

“The fleeting beauty of roses gets a lot of attention. What about when the petals drop away? It isn’t cause for melancholy, or reflection on how we’re at the mercy of time- it’s cause for celebration. That big, showy fragrant blossom was just the invitation; the party really gets started once the rose fades and the flower’s fruit, the rose hip, begins to ripen. The same is true of people. Getting older isn’t a reason to mourn – our younger years are just the beginning. As we age and our experience grows, we gain our real value: fruitful wisdom that we can share and use to nourish each other. What else in your life are you writing off as an end, when really, it’s a beginning?”

I am undone by those words. In ten days I will have a milestone birthday. I will enter a new decade, one I used to consider the doorway to “old age”. Truthfully, I am okay with turning 60. I am healthy, and active, and full of vibrant joy. How amazing, though, and encouraging, to read this paragraph tonight and know that I am entering a fruitful stage of life, where I can share and nourish others.

What beautiful messages this evening, that began with looking into my cup of tea. I laughed as I considered that fortune tellers used to look into an empty cup and read tea leaves. No leaves in my cup, just rose hips tea and a dancing butterfly…and a sweet message that reminded me that this party, my celebration, is just getting started. How vibrantly joyful is that?

Does This Bring Me Joy?

I had the privilege this afternoon of picking up my granddaughter Aubrey from school, as she nears the end of her first full week of second grade. This precocious child always makes me laugh, and think, in turns, as she unabashedly shares her views about the world. 

Aubrey returned with me to the Keller Williams Realty office, after selecting a drink and a snack, while I completed the day’s work. She is a friendly girl, and she chatted easily with Doris Carlin, founder of our local Keller Williams market center, and with agents and staff, showing everyone her extremely loose front tooth. She asked questions and answered questions, and she was so considerate and thoughtful that I complimented Aubrey on her politeness. 

She leaned toward me and whispered, “Enjoy it, Yaya, because I can’t say how long this is going to last.” 

That’s Aubrey, ever forthright and authentic! 

My work completed, Aubrey requested that we participate in a tradition that we observe every year at this time…checking out potential gifts for her birthday in October. I allowed my granddaughter to take the lead at Toys R Us, wandering up and down the colorful, toy packed aisles, while I followed, snapping pics of the items that interested her. 

This is what I found insightful about watching Aubrey: when something caught her eye…and let’s face it, she’s seven years old…most everything caught her eye…she paused to pick up the toy or game and hold it. If the object was too large to hold, she touched it. After a few moments of careful consideration, she announced, “This rings my bell.”  And I took a picture of the toy. Or she said, “This doesn’t ring my bell.” And back on the shelf the item went, without a photo taken, and she moved on. 

Anyone who has read the best selling book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo, will recognize what Aubrey is doing as she holds each item. She’s checking to see if the object brings her joy. Without being taught, and having never read the book, Aubrey is sensing whether the toy that she desires is in alignment with her, or not. Does it bring her joy? I take a pic of a potential gift. No joy, even if it looks appealing? Move on. 

Watching Aubrey, I realized that many people go through the same process. Finding something that we are drawn to, whether it is a scarf, a bottle of nail polish, or a book, we pick up the item to examine it more closely. Or are we, consciously or subconsciously, handling the object, checking to see if it brings us joy? 

I know now that I do what Aubrey does. I’m giving the item the joy test, and allowing what I feel to help me make a decision. She has enough openness and awareness to use this technique naturally and easily, stating her preferences as ringing…or not ringing…her bell. 

I enjoyed observing this soulful girl as she moved about the store. I captured her chosen toys with my phone’s camera. And I listened to her happy chatter. She’s reached an age where other factors are beginning to influence her final decisions, such as value. She’s more aware of the cost of what she desires, and she carefully weighs that cost against the perceived joy the toy will bring. 

I heard her mutter several times that the toy “wasn’t worth the cost”. And while that shift could be seen as maturity, a part of me was sad that she is already moving beyond letting simple joy guide her. Ah, sweet Aubrey, hold on to your ability to recognize what brings you joy, and what doesn’t. Keep trusting yourself and your instincts. They won’t lead you astray. 

And know this, Dear Heart, you ring my bell. You bring me joy. 

Surrender 86: First Fire of the Season Day

Thanks to my friend Mark, who is having a year of firsts, I became aware that today is National Make Up Your Own Holiday Day. How fun is that? 


Although tomorrow there is a 100% chance of rain, today the weather was perfect…warm and bright and not windy. I declared today First Fire of the Season Day, and stoked up the fire pit in the backyard.  

I used my childhood Camp Fire Girl training to start a fire. After a couple of sessions of cleaning up in the backyard, I have a ready supply of kindling. The dry ornamental grass stalks caught fire immediately, and they smell wonderful as they burn. 


Small branches were added next. Greg has graciously stockpiled branches and tree trunks that he’s cut to size, so that there is ample fuel for fires. This afternoon he cleverly fashioned a firewood holder out of a wooden pallet, cut in two, and 2x4s. 


What a beautiful way to celebrate my own holiday. There is something magical, and mystical, about staring into a crackling fire. As darkness gathered, the first fire of the season was a merry promise of many more fires to come throughout the year. 

Truthfully, I could have created several holidays today. Meet with Intuitive Friends Day or Weed Your Mother’s Garden Day or Weed Your Own Garden Day, all would have been appropriate for this joy filled Saturday. 

I realized that every day is Make Up Your Own Holiday Day. The day is what I make it to be. Each day is a reflection of how I choose to honor the time given to me, or how I choose to disregard it. This day radiated warmth and light. This was First Fire of the Season Day.