My Journey Under A Citrus Sky

September 1, 2016

On these pages, you will find reflections on a Citrus Sky. As part of my ongoing learning, I started keeping a Citrus Sky Journal (or Spirit Journal). I also decided that as well as my traditional coil-bound journal, I would also like to try to have my Citrus Sky Journey online. And this is it!

Citrus Sky

This Citrus Sky On Line Journal is about taking what is often very private and putting it front & centre for reflection & exploration. It is about providing an experience and putting it out there in many ways. And, it is simply another way of reflecting and using technology. I invite you to look at the Citrus Sky.

For This I Believe Under A Citrus Sky

June 23, 2016


This essay was written by Mary Chapin Carpenter for NPR’s “This I Believe,” an ongoing series about the core values and beliefs that guide people’s daily lives. Mary Chapin Carpenter’s essay was originally broadcast on June 23.

The following is the original unabridged version.

Eight weeks ago I was released from the hospital after suffering a pulmonary embolism. I had recently finished a short tour to promote my most new cd, “The Calling”. During that tour I had some back pain that required me to sit down on stage every night and I also experienced nearly constant chest pain that I thought was acid reflux. A few days after returning home, it was the severe chest pain and terrible breathlessness that landed me in the ER. The CT scan revealed a shower of blood clots in my lungs, and the mystery was solved.Everyone told me how lucky I was that they had caught it in time, and nearly everyone had a story of someone they knew who had not been so lucky. A pulmonary embolism can take your life in an instant. I was familiar enough with the medical term, but not familiar with the pain, the fear and the depression that followed.

The decision was made to cancel my long planned summer tour. No matter how the facts were presented, I felt that I had let my band and crew and manager down. I worried that my new relationships with my record company and booking agency were going to suffer. All of the elements that were in place to celebrate the release of the new cd were torpedoed. There was nothing to do now but get out of the hospital, go home and get well.

I tried very hard in the first few days to see my unexpected time off as a gift. How often does one get the chance to wake up every day and have very little on the agenda but to feel good? I would go to the gym, but whereas I used to be a demon on the treadmill, now I was a snail. Slow, slow, slow. Where I used to have energy, now I was fatigued just lying down. I thought I would read a lot of books. However, I would open a good novel and not be able to concentrate. I would turn on the radio, then shut if off because I could not find something to soothe me. My beautiful husband would try to find diversions, but I had no wish to be around friends, or to leave the farm. The familiar clouds of darkness were gathering above my head, and I couldn’t head them off with a pill or a movie or a walk.

I tried to remember that the doctors said I would feel unwell for a while. Someone even reminded me that “it’s not cancer”, in order to help me find perspective. The gift of this unexpected time was becoming a curse, turning into anxiety, fear and self-loathing. All of the ingredients of the darkness that is depression. It had come on so quickly, like a freight train.

Sometimes, it’s the smile of a stranger that helps. Sometimes it’s a phone call from a long absent friend, just checking on you. Sometimes it’s the familiar routine of a day that just barely propels you forward. Whatever it is, it is worth reaching out for, like a lifeline. I found it at the grocery store.

Like most people, I say please and thank you and have a nice day. But it’s a habit of manners, not something that I invest with a great deal of feeling. One morning, the young man who rang up my groceries and asked me if I wanted paper or plastic also bid me to enjoy the rest of my day. I looked at him as he smiled at me and I knew he meant it. A simple thing to say but at that moment it stopped me in my tracks. It wasn’t a wave, an embrace, or a kiss. It was, quite unadorned, the secret of life. I went out and I sat in my car and cried. I felt something different in my chest for the first time in as many days; instead of the dead weight pressure that had been nearly constant, I felt something lift.

What I want, more than ever, is to appreciate that I have this day, and tomorrow and hopefully days beyond that to enjoy. I am, like many people who are faced with a sudden need to reassess everything from brushing their teeth to breathing without pain, experiencing the learning curve of gratitude. You would think that with all of the blessings in my life that I would know what gratitude is. But this experience has shown me is that I don’t have a clue, that I have no idea how much I have taken for granted.

I don’t want to say, “have a nice day” like I am a robot. I don’t want to get mad at the elderly driver in front of me that has slowed me down. I don’t want to judge people so harshly, or be so critical of strangers, or become so easily disappointed when I feel that someone has let me down. I don’t want to rush through my day. I don’t want to go crazy when my Internet access is messed up. I don’t want to be jealous of someone else’s success. I don’t want to feel ugly, or mean or jaded. You could say that this litany of sins indicates that I don’t want to be human. The learning curve, however, is showing me exactly how human I am. And with it, the importance of being grateful for my imperfection.

Many friends have repeated the homily that things happen for a reason. I used to think that was just something that people said in a crisis. But it sounds and feels and means something different to me now.

I don’t know if my doctors will ever be able to give me the precise reason why I had a life-threatening illness, that forced me to cancel everything, that sank me into a depression, that brought everything I had been looking forward to a screeching halt. I do know that the young man in the grocery store reminded me that every day is all there is, and that is my lifeline.

Tonight I will cook dinner, tell my husband how much I love him, curl up with the dogs, watch the sun go down over the mountains and climb into bed. I will think about how uncomplicated it all is. I will wonder at how it took me my entire life to appreciate just one day.

I Am Rich On The Journey

June 25, 2014

GARDEN BUDDHA

Finding Thin Moments Under A Citrus Sky

May 18, 2014

THIN MOMENTS

There Are Flowers Under My Citrus Sky

April 3, 2014

CITRUS ROSES

I Am Rich On The Journey Under A Citrus Sky

February 10, 2014

RICH ON MY JOURNEY

There Are Many Bridges Under A Citrus Sky

January 15, 2014

LIGHT THE BRIDGE

Conversations That Matter

July 25, 2011

Citrus Tea
Conversations That Matter is about shaping our world through the conversations we have that matter. Conversations That Matter is about putting these conversations out front for reflection & deeper exploration. It is simply one more way of making meaning through our stories.

Finding Spirit In A Citrus Circle

January 1, 2010

Citrus Wreath

Sometimes a conversation can change the direction of our lives and work.   Sometimes a story can inspire, move and heal individuals and communities to action. Reflection in the natural world often restores our souls.


Finding Gifts Under A Citrus Sky

March 1, 2008
Citrus Gates

To find your citrus sky, start by being aware of your breath. It is like the end of one wave from among the endless ocean waves. They continue to come and disappear to be followed by another and another and another. They come. They disappear. They come, they end, they flow back to be covered by another incoming wave. You hear the sound. It’s rhythm puts the mind into a trance, and you go far away but wherever you go, there you are. You are under a citrus sky.