caregivers support, Caring for a parent, in-home care

Gratitude, Transformation, and Kindness

I ushered in the new year with five days of personal retreat while big sister Jo Ann cared for Mama. I hunkered down in the beautiful Port Orchard home of a woman I met last month at my Whidbey Island writers’ retreat. As that week ended I mentioned that I was looking for a get-away place for a few days post Christmas, and Denise offered her family’s home while they were away. Cat care she said. Well, cat company; the cat really had no other needs—and possibly not even that one, she is a cat after all. I was more than happy to oblige.

What I didn’t expect was the beauty of the space. And the view. Standing at the sink washing dishes one sparkling morning, three snowy white gulls flew across the pale blue sky above the deep blue of Puget Sound’s Sinclair Inlet. I thought, “If I lived here, I would never use the dishwasher. I would live to stand at this sink and watch out the window.” That was before an eagle swooped down to the water and back up. That was before a sunlit Washington State ferry, glistening in white and green, glided into view, a flock of gulls dancing above her wake. That was before another eagle came in for a landing, joining his mate at eye level in the top of a tall fir between the house and the water. That was before a raccoon ambled across the driveway and a squirrel scampered along the split rail fence from the feeder it had been feasting at. I only had a few dishes, and all this. I wept with gratitude.


I left the house only to walk down the lane to the bottom of the hill to retrieve the mail. I cooked and ate and watched movies. I wrote a bit and worked at editing my raw material about my sojourn with Mama. I spent a few hours with a friend who came to the house. I did a tarot spread for the new year and contemplated how the seven cards might inspire my year. I looked out the window. I looked out the window a lot.

I felt more at home in the house on Sinclair Inlet usually inhabited by people who are near strangers to me, with unfamiliar belongings, than I do where I live in the home in which I spent my childhood. “Why?” I wonder now. Obviously it is more about soul home than physical home. I felt deep peace in the way I did at my home in Raleigh, and do not in Mama’s home.


The tarot card in my spread that I am struggling with most is the one in the third position: “Key opportunity in the new year,” The Ten of Air. The card is about transformation, moving forward, moving on. It is a betwixt and between time. I am itching to move forward—but it’s not time. I relate to the limbo—but how is that opportunity?

I also drew the ten of air on Christmas Day. On my last morning on Sinclair Inlet (while washing dishes), a flock of birds flew over the water above a sailboat. This morning, as I write at the coffee shop (thanking Spirit for the return to routine), a gaggle of geese fly straight at me outside the window, then turn as one and wing out of sight. What is it with the birds?

photoI manage a photo of the geese and send it to my friend Joanna Powell Colbert, creator of the beautiful Gaian Tarot deck. She tells me her intuition is that “change is in the wind.” Perhaps there will be change that is out of my control—and I will just have to wait and see. But what transformations can I create? How can I make a soul home in this place that belongs to my mother; where I can’t change much about her need to be control, which is what gives her life meaning? I will be watching for opportunity.

Meanwhile, since returning from my personal retreat, I have been living into my word for 2014: kindness. I am doing well. Of course it’s been just three days. Perhaps the transformation—the change in the air—is within me, not in my physical space. Ah, now maybe I’m getting somewhere.

May gratitude, transformation, and kindness be yours in the new year.


If you are interested in using tarot cards for new year inspiration, read more here. (And, yes, who knew I would become a fan of the tarot? It’s not just for fortune telling!)


5 thoughts on “Gratitude, Transformation, and Kindness”

  1. Beautiful post, Gretchen. Looking forward to seeing how the message of the Winged Ones unfolds this coming year. XO


  2. Well written and beautifully illustrated with your photos and Tarot. Perhaps one of the changes in store for you is sharing your work with a larger audience….


  3. Thanks for reminding me to do a reading for myself. Perhaps your “soul home” is within you? I am in my dtr’s home. It is not mine, and yet it is. I appreciate I can be part of her life and her two young ones. I hope I do not become a burden to her…Thanks again…


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