Julie A. Swanson

Purer and Purer Streams…

Month: April, 2013

The Prettiest Time of Year in Virginia

100_1111I love this time of year and this picture shows why. Absolute Fairyland. When my daughters were little, they used to call themselves the Lavender Fairies. They would go around where we lived at the time, picking people’s flowers to decorate the headstones of the ‘pet cemetery’ they made, where they buried dead birds, etc., and when our neighbor would notice someone’s flowers had been plucked from the beds they’d been planted in, she would say with a wink, “Huh, the lavender fairies must’ve been out again,” knowing that it was the girls and their friends. She even bought them a little porcelain figurine of a winged fairy, like a wood nymph dressed in lavender sitting Puckishly among a patch of flowers. And when I drive around Virginia in the spring and see all the dogwoods and redbuds growing natural in the woods along the roads and highway, the flowing cherry and plum and crab apples, I think of the Lavendar Fairies and Fairyland, that we are living in the most beautiful fairy land. Pinks and lavenders and lacy whites scattered everywhere, against the backdrop of the freshest bright green. This morning it’s rainy and overcast here, but I’m looking out at the scene above as I write today (picture from last spring), just a damper version of it, and the trees slightly larger, and thus even more colorful.

When we first moved to Charlottesville (April 28, 2000, thirteen years ago this coming Sunday), I was so wowed by spring here that I wanted everyone in my family who’d never seen spring in Virginia to come visit in April so they could see it, too. Growing up in the northern Midwest, I always loved spring as well, but here it comes earlier and it’s so much grander. In northern Michigan, you have to wait until May to get anything like what we’re enjoying now. At Easter, we’d turn on the TV to see the newspeople showing pictures of cherry blossoms on the trees at the White House, but outside our windows, it looked like winter. So when spring finally came, you were almost giddy with the sights and the smells and the warmth. But they were different sights. We didn’t have dogwoods in the north, very few redbuds. We had forsythia and cherry orchards and lilac, although the lilacs bloomed later as they do here–the smell of lilac remains one of my favorites. The one thing we had there in Leelanau County that I never got sick of looking out at, and which people there get to enjoy all year long, is the water, the amazing blues and greens of the lakes. OK, considering the water, it’s almost a tie for which place is more beautiful in the spring. But I would bet that there is no more beautiful a place in mid-April than right here in Central Virginia.


Catholic Confirmation in the 70s–your memories please

I don't remember much more than the fact that I had to wear an outfit something like this--a corduroy jumper with a turtleneck and knee socks both with the same ugly rust color in them that somehow went with the mallard color and tied the outfit together?!

I don’t remember much more than the fact that I had to wear an outfit something like this–a corduroy jumper with a turtleneck and knee socks both having the same ugly rust color in them (that somehow went with the teal blue and tied the outfit together?!)

For any of you who grew up in the 70s like I did, do you remember what your confirmation preparation was like? I remember the actual day I was confirmed (6th grade, I believe), what I wore and everything–corduroy jumper over a turtleneck and thick knee socks, all in wintery colors and from that I deduce that it must’ve been late fall or winter or very early spring. But if it was winter, that wouldn’t have given us much time to prepare for it in catechism classes (we spent almost a full year preparing for 1st Communion), unless we started preparing the year before.

Now kids are confirmed  much later. It seems that over the years the age has gotten older and older in increments. Most parishes confirm kids as juniors in high school now. Here, and other places I’ve heard of, it’s a two-year commitment/preparation with retreats and all, a very involved process.

I don’t remember such rigorous instruction. I do recall being worried that the bishop would ask us questions–seems we’d been drilled to prepare for it so that we might know the answers to what he’d ask–and then being relieved when he didn’t quiz us. So there was at least that instruction we must’ve been given.

Anyone who might read this and be willing to share their memories, it would be much appreciated. Read the rest of this entry »

Sounds True

imgresJust wanted to pass along the link to a site where I’ve found many fascinating and important topics discussed, by many highly regarded people. These  include Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Marion Woodman, Eckhart Tolle, Jack Kornfield, David Whyte, Adyashanti, Brene Brown, Colin Tipping, Ken Wilber, Ken Cohen, Stephen Cope… to name just a few.

I’ve enjoyed and learned a lot checking out their offerings on creativity, spirituality, psychology, meditation, yoga, health, aging…


You can not only buy (CDs or downloads of) music, audio recordings of lectures, classes, and workshops… but you can also listen to samples of them. And if you sign up for them, you’ll be sent free weekly things you can listen to or read in order to learn more about the people Sounds True features. They also have a program called Direct Access, where just for signing up for it, you get access to their archives of free podcasts, interviews, and articles.

Yes, they’re trying to sell things, but there’s something very giving and unselfish about Sounds True–sometimes it’s easy to forget it’s a business, and I feel like it exists more primarily just to help people out and share good ideas and  make the world a better place.