I Spy…

The post title is inspired by the very simple game we used to play with the children, “I spy, with my little eye…”

Simple pleasures have been important to us this summer.

I’ve shared two or three posts about the events surrounding the death of my stepson, and although it’s very true that emotions have run deep, we recognized weeks ago that it was going to be important to move forward, nurturing our well-being.

One day at a time, we’ve fine-tuned our focus, appreciating Mother Teresa’s quote, “Be happy in the moment; that’s enough. Each moment is all we need, not more.”

Generally speaking we aren’t “brooders.” We acknowledge sadness and there are some days we may be a bit more sensitive, but Jay and I are both believers in taking responsibility for our emotional health. And we know what works for us.

We live relatively close to miles and miles of coastline, but we shifted our emphasis this summer from the Orange County beaches that are often overrun with high-energy activity, and instead focused on a familiar and pleasant stretch of Los Angeles County beach.

These photos were taken very early in the day before crowds assembled, but walking in Manhattan Beach is particularly enjoyable, with pedestrian walkways separate from the bike paths.


There are wonderful little places to sit and take in the sights or stop and have a bite to eat.

While we stood on the pier watching dolphins play with the surfers, we could also see the jets taking off from LAX, which is not even five miles from where we were standing.

I couldn’t help but wonder how many people bustling through the crazy-busy International Airport have no idea there is all this beauty right over their shoulder.

I’d be at the beach every day if possible, BUT, there are delights at home as well.

I’ve been entertained this month with the first flowering of one of our Ponytail palms (Beaucarnea recurvata).Β This plant isn’t really a palm, but its swollen base resembles a palm and the long, thin leaves curve outward, then hang down like ponytails.

We have three of these mature plants, but only one produced this interesting spike, which later bloomed and attracted colorful insects!

Can you see all the little black spots? Those are beetles and bees. At times it was vibrating with insect life.

We’ve had these “palms” for close to thirty years, yet this was the first time we’d experienced the bloom. It was entertaining watching the insects flock to the tiny flowers.

I’m so glad I was at home this summer to observe! I might have missed it.

In deciding to take care of ourselves, we’ve been operating a little slower, which translates into being more intentional and aware of our surroundings–noticing the small delights.

Being in a hurry doesn’t slow down time, but conversely, slowing down feels like there is more time to enjoy breathing lighter. I’d like to continue to cultivate that peace going forward.

Can you hear me exhale?







42 thoughts on “I Spy…

  1. Thirty years it takes to flower ?
    Good heavens, beautiful Debra ! – here’s hoping you see it happen again.
    Slowing down one’s activities is sensible when our emotions have been shattered; and in the nearly 14 years since Chic died, I’ve done that in spades.
    It does enable the smelling of roses … or in some cases, of ponytail palms.

    • I’m certain of one thing, M-R, and that is that after losing such a wonderful partner as Chic, the world doesn’t turn at the same pace ever again. Shattered is an apt description! And when the pace slows, or the view shifts, we have an opportunity to find a new focus and perhaps be delighted in unexpected ways. Like my pony tail palm. LOL! I don’t know about its patterns, but it was a gift to me this season. I was truly fascinated just watching bugs feast on those blooms. πŸ™‚

  2. I glad to hear that you are observing “self care” ~ always of value, but especially important in times of loss and stress.

    Thanks for sharing your waves and blooms with us.

    • Thank you, yes, Nancy. Self-care! That’s the very best way to acknowledge where we are right now, committed to our well-being. We are doing a pretty good balancing act! πŸ™‚

  3. Slowing down and living in the moment is good. I had a hard time doing that until I retired. Now I realize how wonderful and healthy it is. Enjoy your beach. For me there is nothing like water to soothe.

    • I am always learning about slowing down, Kate! I have had several times in my life when circumstances have created an opportunity for me to learn how good it can feel, and then, too often, the moment passes and I quickly move on. I need the reminders, but I’m learning! I guess we’re proving we’re never too old to learn. πŸ™‚

  4. California is beautiful, wonderful beaches, weather, all the national parks… I love SoCal! Thank you for reminding us to slow down. πŸ™‚

    • Thank you, Amy. I’m so glad you’ve visited Southern California and have experienced many of the more beautiful offerings. The Los Angeles beach cities are often a surprise to many people, and being so close to very high density population centers they offer a nice break from noise and city activity! I hope you’ll have a chance to visit again. πŸ™‚

    • Thank you so much for stopping by to leave a comment, and also to share in my appreciation for our beautiful coastline. It is definitely a gift, isn’t it?

  5. Nature and it’s variety is fascinating, if we have the time to look, Debbie. I love keeping an eye on my own little patio, and sometimes it yields surprises. It’s a work in progress still. Better views are to be had from my permanent perch on the roof terrace. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ I’m glad you are taking it slow.

    • I think if I had a roof terrace I’d find a seat and not move, Jo. πŸ™‚ How lovely! I know you appreciate the natural beauty of surroundings–wherever your “walks” take you–and I am nurtured similarly. Exploring and appreciating nature’s gifts is truly healing! πŸ™‚

  6. I am not sure why self care and comfort are such difficult concepts for us. As I flowed through this post I felt the comfort coming from your words, your decisions and thoughts. All of the things you take time to appreciate and soothe you are there for a purpose as well.

    • I wonder at the same time, Colleen. It often seems to me that until I feel I’ve had a personal “earthquake” I just keep going. Then, when I feel utterly spent, the self-care comes front and forward. We can continue to encourage each other to keep that balance in good times, too! πŸ™‚ Thank you!

      • You’re welcome. And I think that is key with self care, surrounding yourself with others who recognize the need for you and encourage you. Interesting….’self care’ can also involve others. πŸ™‚

  7. Yes, I can hear you exhale! Even the cadence of your post reflects a shift. There are lots of little treasures to behold when one can be in the moment. Thank you for the reminder.

    • Thank you, Gail. Even with all that’s been a part of this summer, we’ve had many very sweet and enjoyable moments. I don’t think our summer garden has ever been this pampered. Staying home has had its benefits in that regard. πŸ™‚

  8. I’ve always found it fascinating to consider how plants know when to bloom. I’m convinced the talk to each other in ways we don’t yet understand. There is ongoing research on this by a few brave botanists.

    • So true, Jim. I hope this one might persuade the other two to bloom, but if not, I’ll just be content to have a favorite. πŸ™‚ I think of all years, this was such a gift.

  9. We have a few plants (succulents) that send out an unexpected bloom now and then. For some, it is the plant’s beautiful finale before it dies. For others, it’s just an unexpected gift. Usually, the bees and hummers gather round for its nectar. I’m glad you and your husband are taking good care of each other and enjoying summer’s bounty.

    • Thank you, Janis. We are definitely committed to living in the slow lane for a while. πŸ™‚ I have read that our “palm” will bloom every year now, so that’s something to look forward to. I also enjoy watching the various succulents put on their show and I’m accustomed to the variety of spikes and flowers, but this particular “showing” was beyond anything we’ve had before. Now I’m feeling expectant about the other two ponytail palms and wondering if they’re going to try to keep up! πŸ™‚

  10. Dear Debra, almost always, I can’t remember a time when it didn’t happy, I come away from your posting also breathing lighter, feeling my spirit touched by your understanding and what being human means–of our joy and sorrows, our foibles and our gifts, our need to be and not to be whatever our dream has been. And with this posting you’ve done this again.

    It seems to me that the way you and Jay are responding to your step-son’s death and life beyond that death is a gift from Oneness–that is all who love you sending you the energy to let go and simply be in moment, treasuring it. Peace.

    • What you must know, Dee, is that you have given me many opportunities to reflect upon HOW we tap into Oneness, and that has been a guide for me during this time. i’m truly appreciative of your comment and that we can feel a sense of deep connection, means so much to me! Thank you, dear friend.

  11. I think we can all learn from what you write in this post. Self healing is necessary for healthy living and I am happy you have been able to get through this summer with strength despite the tragic event in your family. Nature in all its various forms is a good place to find healing, isn’t it.

    • Thank you, indeed, Otto. I have really felt the encouragement to prioritize both physical and mental rest, and being outdoors in nature seems to meet the needs of both. I know you understand that, and I really appreciate your kind words, Otto.

  12. Wonderful collection of insects you have there Debra! I love that large green beetle which I assume is a Chafer? I’m glad you are finding time to find time if I can put it like that… We spend too much of our lives rushing for no good purpose. What’s the old saying – Time is the best healer? I think observing nature is a good healer too πŸ™‚

  13. I Love Your pictures of the beach especially I also think your garden is lovely! I am also learning self-care it is harder than caring for others from my opinion! But as I learn to enjoy each moment and slow down it is almost heavenly at times! May your heart be healed by God and Nature and loving friends! Love Debi

  14. Pleased to hear you are getting solace from being at the beach and from watching nature. I never tire of watching dolphins, there’s a sense of abandon in their behaviour. And I can be mesmerised and transported to another world by watching insects thronging flowers.

    • Isn’t it wonderful that nature offers such healing opportunities, Philip? We who really enjoy watching the bounty so fully are really fortunate! Thank you for your kind comment.

  15. Your beach photos are only one reminder of how much beauty there is in this world. The wonder of nature never ceases to amaze. This is the first year we have been visited on a regular basis by a couple of hummingbirds. The conversation at our house is not very stimulating, it goes something like this: “Ooh, the hummingbird is on the Thalia plant. Do you see him now? Hurry: he’s on the Black and Bloom salvias.” Such a marvel; such a wonderment. We never get tired of the joy of watching beautiful creatures of nature.

  16. Yes, Debra I can. Your purposeful breaths are noted with each of your thoughful posts…they are inspiring! Thanks always for sharing your wisdom and may you and yours enjoy many more breaths together in your nest and delight in eveything observed.

  17. Checking all these things out is so healthy. It helps to push the blues away. I think you guys did a great thing here. We all fall on terrible times but you can deal with it and keep yourself in good shape. Excellent! Best wishes!

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