Monstera Deliciosa

Forced to shelter at home for months, many people have developed a deep appreciation for indoor plants. Collecting indoor plants has become a way of bringing nature inside and surrounding oneself with it in the safe environment of one’s own home.

Plants provide us with oxygen and give us great joy with their various shapes, sizes, colors, scents and peculiarities. My monstera deliciosa’s peculiarity is that it always develops little water droplets on its leaves overnight.

Before I Die ….

What is it that YOU want to ……….. before you die?

A retreat with Chris Saade (philosopher, psychotherapist, author and activist) prompted me to revisit this question. Based on Chris’ teachings, to tap into one’s truth or authentic self requires genuinely and deeply honoring one’s …

  • choices and struggles of freedom
  • unique personality
  • profound wounds and failures
  • heart
  • spirit force
  • passionate and generous love
  • passionate and particular calling

From this position one is able to also honor the same in others and support them in their own search for authenticity. Living authentically promotes freedom, mutual respect, harmony and inner and outer peace.

The question is: What is authentically me, and what is a learned perception of me? It takes some soul searching to be able to discern one from the other. Sometimes it helps to think back to childhood. What were my interests and passions when I was still an ‘uncarved block’? The answer may lie there.

Wounds of Neglect

When you look at this cactus the first thing you probably notice is that it is imperfect. It’s tall and healthy, but uneven in size from its base to its top.

This is my cactus. I rescued it from Walmart some years ago when it was only about an inch tall and a half inch in diameter. It was obvious that they had not watered it in a while. Its soil was so dry that it had separated from the wall of the pot. The cactus was very young and already looked pale from thirst.

At home, I nursed it back to health. Its color changed from almost yellow to green, and it grew in width and height. Then something happened. I did not pay it as much attention anymore. I was busy with work and myself and started to water it infrequently. It never occurred to me to give it some plant food. I bet, looking at the photo, you can tell at which point in the cactus’ life this happened.

My spiritual path, however, redirected my attention to it and to all my other plants, for that matter. Plants and animals are living beings just like us. And they suffer just like us. I could no longer ignore my cactus and water and feed it only when I happened to think of it. Of course, as one might expect, it reacted to the renewed TLC treatment by gaining in size and weight and growing straight and tall.

Lesson learned: A living being may be marked for life by unfavorable experiences or conditions, but it CAN recover its health with some TLC and reach its potential. As domesticated as so many plants and animals often are, they may always be dependent on humans to give them the care they need. After all, where else would a house plant get its water from? But once humans reach adulthood, they are typically no longer dependent on caretakers. At this point they have the option to give themselves the care and love they may not have gotten earlier in life and still reach for the stars.


Outer Appearances May Be Misleading

This pear looked so old and unsightly that I was debating with myself whether I should still eat it or just toss it. I decided to eat it with blemished skin and all. Contrary to my expectation, it turned out to be firm, perfectly ripened, and deliciously sweet.

Lesson learned: Never judge anything or anyone by the outer appearance. There may be perfect maturity and delicious sweetness inside. All we need to do is ‘take a taste’ to find out.


The Horse (A Fairy Tale)

(This is a fairy tale that I wrote at age 13. Sadly, I had misplaced it for a long time, but while cleaning out clutter in our house I found it again.)

Once upon a time there was an old king of 84 years, who was quite distraught in his old age, for his son, the prince, had been turned into a horse by an evil spirit’s curse. However, the prince had to be saved within one year or he would die.

The dreadful news about the king’s suffering reached all the corners of his kingdom, and a beautiful, young maiden was so filled with compassion for the king’s misfortune that she decided she would try to help. When the king learned about the maiden’s intention, he summoned her to his court and said: “It is right indeed that a young maiden should want to try to save my son, for an old woman in the forest foretold me that his curse could only be broken by a maiden.” The young maiden replied: “Well, my king, let me give it a try.” However, the king warned her, “Many, who have tried to accomplish this task before you, have perished.” But the young maiden would not give in.

“Then, my child”, replied the king, “you must walk south day and night without looking either right or left, even if someone calls out to you. Do not stop to rest or you will suffer great harm! But, if you steadfastly stay on your path, you will reach a little cottage. Knock on the cottage’s door and an old woman will open. Ask this woman if you may spend the night. At night do not open your eyes, even if you hear voices calling your name. If you have made it thus far, the worst is over. For the next day when you wake up, you will find yourself in a castle and see my son in his human form. He will give you a ring and reveal to you the last step.”

The young maiden thanked the king for his advice and went on her way. She kept her promise and looked neither left nor right. Many entrancing voices tempted her, but she tried hard not to pay them any attention. Finally, she arrived at the little cottage. She was afraid, because it was such a deserted place, and she was all alone. When she finally knocked on the door it was dusk. An old woman with white, wavy hair and a long, crooked nose opened the door and asked the maiden for the reason of her visit.

As instructed by the king, the young maiden asked for a night’s shelter. The old woman led the girl into the house, gave her food, and showed her to her room. Tired and exhausted the young maiden went to bed and fell fast asleep. At midnight the cuckoo clock above her bed surprised her with such loud chimes that she was shocked and almost opened her eyes. It was just in time that she remembered the king’s words of caution. Suddenly she heard the door to her room open with a squeak and someone entered. The girl wanted to know so badly who it was, but she was not allowed to open her eyes. A voice begged her: “Dearest maiden, please look at me!” But the girl did not move, although she was really tempted. Now the cuckoo clock chimed one o’clock and the voice disappeared in the distance.

The next morning the young maiden awoke in a magnificent castle. She rose from her ornate bed which was made from pure silver and gold and a handsome prince greeted her: “Beautiful young maiden, you have almost saved me and I will make you my bride.” He gave his savior a golden ring. Then he became very sad.

“What is wrong, my prince?” the young maiden asked him. “I have to leave you now”, the prince replied, “and you must go on and save me forever. Continue your walk, but do not turn around to look back! This time you must walk east where you will reach a forest. There is a castle in the forest on whose door you must knock. A handsome, young lord will open and extend his hand to greet you. Do not give him your right hand for no one must touch it else both of us will be harmed. You will encounter other handsome noblemen in the castle. Do not let any of them seduce you!”

All of this the young maiden promised the prince and then they kissed and bade each other good-bye. The girl went on her way and walked east. She never turned around to look back. After a while she reached the castle in the forest and knocked on the door. A handsome lord opened and extended his hand to greet her. She stretched out her right hand. However, when she realized what had happened, he had already touched her little finger. She turned around and, with tears filling her eyes, she ran deeper and deeper into the forest until she crossed ways with an old woman who asked the young maiden for the reason of her sorrow. Distraught about her mistake and the consequences the girl told the old woman her whole story.

With crackling voice the old woman replied: “My dearest child, all is not lost. It is not too late for you to save the prince for the lord of the castle only touched your little finger.” The girl asked what she needed to do, and the old woman instructed her: “You must fulfill three tasks for the sorcerer who lives about one mile from here.” The girl thanked her and hurriedly went on her way to see the sorcerer. Meanwhile the old woman disappeared in the thicket.

After walking a while the girl found the castle of the sorcerer. Full of courage she entered, went before the sorcerer, and pleaded: “Please let me try my luck one more time to save the prince!” The sorcerer assigned her the first task. The young maiden had to build an entire house out of pure honey within one day.

Saddened by the impossibility of this task, the girl walked for a while thinking about what to do when she saw a bee on the ground who could no longer lift itself off to fly. Gently, the young maiden picked up the bee and helped it launch its flight. Grateful for the help the bee said, “Dearest girl I know what is troubling you. Since you helped me, I will help you, too. Encouraged by the bee’s words the young maiden continued on her way.

Once again she encountered the old woman of the forest who warned her: “For fulfilling your last task, the sorcerer will allow you as much time as you would like. Do not lie down and rest, however, for the year in which to save the prince will be over in four days!” The girl thanked the old woman for her advice and hurried back to the bee, but it was no longer there. Instead, there stood a huge house made from pure honey. The young maiden showed the honey house to the sorcerer who assigned her the second task: “You must build a large pond by tomorrow.”

The girl knew that this task was unachievable, but she had to try. She scooped up water with a bucket from a stream and carried it to where the new pond should be. There she encountered a little old man with a long white beard who got stuck by his jacket on a tree stump. The young maiden hurried over to help him and the little old man thanked her for her good deed. When the girl went to scoop up and carry more water to fill the pond, it was already full to the brim.

The young maiden showed it to the sorcerer and he assigned her the third and last task: “You have fulfilled two tasks, but not the third one. There is a ring at the bottom of the new pond. It is somewhere in its middle. Go and fetch it! For this task you can take as much time as you like.” But the girl wanted to get to work right away as the old woman in the forest had advised her.

When she reached the edge of the pond she saw a fish on the ground next to the pond. She felt sorry for the stranded fish and threw it back into the water. While she contemplated how to find the tiny ring in the huge pond she saw a swarm of fish coming toward her with the fish that she had saved in their middle carrying a ring in its mouth. Grateful for saving its life, the fish gave the ring to the young maiden.

Happily the girl ran back to the sorcerer with the good news, but he was no longer there. Instead she found a horse carriage with the king’s son inside. Joyfully, the princess-to-be jumped into the carriage and they kissed. When they returned to the prince’s father’s castle he had already died and the prince became king. They had a magnificent wedding and lived happily ever after.

Water & Dry Land

This scene is very pleasing to me because I find the place where the ocean meets dry land a particularly enjoyable place. Name one person you know that still felt tense after spending some time at the water’s edge! People come to the beach to relax, to de-stress, and to recharge.

The dry land where people dwell and work and all of their responsibilities and obligations reside is on one side, and the ocean’s open expanse of ‘nothingness’ is on the other. Here we can set down our baggage for a few hours. It is so much easier to pick it up again, as we must, after some rest, when we had a chance to empty our mind and relax our muscles.

At the water’s edge we can experience what it is like to just be. For a brief moment, here we can be free from all human societal constructs.



I was just leaving the beach after a long walk, but then for some reason the ‘still life’ of these rocks in the water and reflections of the clouds above caught my attention. Instinctively, I stopped and took a photo of it.

In a way, to me photographing is a form of self-exploration. Here Seena B. Frost’s soul collages come to mind. To make soul collages one sifts through a variety of magazines and tears out images to which one feels a strong pull. These images are then used to create soul collages for the purpose of self-exploration. Although not immediately apparent, the images that we select tell us something about ourselves. Once assembled into a soul collage and reflected upon, we begin to understand what aspects of ourselves are expressed by them and what they are trying to tell us about ourselves.

When I got home, I reflected upon my own image of the rocks in the water above. Only their tips are visible, but their largest parts are hidden under water. In psychology and dreams water is representative for the subconscious. Seeing these rocks as a metaphor for the human being, their tips represent wakeful consciousness. What is hidden under the water is the subconscious and the higher consciousness. This consciousness of ours is hidden not only from others, but generally also from ourselves.

Through looking ‘below the surface of the water’ it is possible to gain insight into what is hidden there from our normal view. There are miscellaneous ways in which to explore this to a greater or lesser degree, such as, for example, meditation, making art, music, or engaging in soul collages – anything that we can lose ourselves in, that gets rid of that noise or chatter or self-talk, or that lets us access the ‘flow‘.

Nature is such a great teacher! By observing nature, I observe myself. Every little bit of understanding gained about nature, is understanding gained about myself. The classroom of nature is open for business every day. Whether I show up for class or cut class is my choice.


A Valuable Lesson from Marsh Grasses

The lotus is not the only plant that emerges from the depth of mud and murky waters. I recently went for a walk along a creek just before dusk and stopped for a while to observe the marsh grasses.

Compared to all the other exciting things to see at the creek, such as pelicans, seagulls, dolphins, shrimp boats, and fishermen, at first look marsh grasses seem to be quite ordinary and boring.  Maybe they make for a nice green contrast against other more interesting things in my photos, so I thought, but that’s all. Upon closer observation, however, I noticed just how remarkable marsh grasses are.

The marsh grasses I observed reminded me of the lotus, because they, too, have to work their way through a sticky mass of wet earth before they are able to catch their first rays of the sun. When they are still in the depth of the dark compact earth, how do they know in which direction to grow? Do they orient themselves by the warmth of the sun generated on the surface of the earth?

It takes a lot of strength and determination to penetrate the heavy mass of the mud. Marsh grasses come in the hundreds, thousands, or millions along a creek. Those grasses that are situated together with and perhaps shielded by other grasses are tall and strong. The ones that are solitary and exposed generally show signs of stunted growth and weakness. When the wind brushes the surface of the landscape, marsh grasses follow its direction. Thus, they constantly and randomly sway in the wind and change direction, whichever way the wind commands them. For this reason, marsh grasses are flexible. It helps them to endure.

Sometimes the water level is low and exposes most of the length of the grasses, except of their root systems in the mud. Other times, the water rises and immerses the grasses so that only their tips are visible. Then they are rocked back and forth by the waves of the heavy water mass surrounding them. For this reason, marsh grasses have to be strong.

When the water is low, marsh grasses hide little crabs and shore birds from predators in their midst.The behavior of marsh grasses metaphorically demonstrates what it takes to navigate life in this world: Strength, determination, endurance, flexibility, companionship, care, and a striving for warmth and light.