Life is a Bowl of Cherries


“Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.” 
― Henry James

A South Florida summer can be very, very hot and humid. Stepping out of an air conditioned home, a wave of heat will hit you like a ton of bricks and, if you wear eyeglasses, you’re momentarily blinded as the steam fogs up your lenses. But, if you’re lucky enough to have a yard full of trees, you can actually enjoy a summer afternoon outside, despite the humidity.

What a difference a tree makes!

Sitting under my grove of bamboo trees, I close my eyes to feel the warm, gentle breeze as it makes contact with my skin. Hanging on a nearby tree branch, the Woodstock chimes harmonize with the rustle of leaves ― the only music I need to hear.  I breathe in the smell of freshly cut grass. The lawn feels soft against my bare feet. The wispy, yet majestic, royal ponciana trees form a canopy over the entire house, dropping vibrant red flowers over the garden. I begin to crave something, but what? Cherries. That’s it. Cherries always remind me of summertime. I bought some from the market just the other day. As if reading my mind, my husband  (who has been watching me from the kitchen window, enjoying the sight of my serenity) brings out a bowl of cherries for me to taste. He sits in the chair beside me and together we savor the ripe fruit and silently enjoy the sound of quiet.

And here, in the northern hemisphere, summer has just begun.

“Then followed that beautiful season… Summer….
Filled was the air with a dreamy and magical light; and the landscape
lay as if new created in all the freshness of childhood.”

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


Our royal ponciana trees (with the red flowers)

Top photo (cherries) via

Bottom photo (royal ponciana tree) by Heather Joan Marinos © 2013 – All Rights Reserved.

That Gut Feeling


“The truth about life and lie about life is not measured by others, but by your intuition, which never lies.”

Santosh Kalwar

Following from my May 16th post, Maximize Your Five Senses, today is the last of a series of blogs on each of the five senses (plus one).  In each post, I shared some of the wisdom that my mother imparted to me – which, to those who were wondering, is why she is mentioned in every one of the blogs.  This series was written in memory of her.

Today, I will talk a bit about the sixth senseintuition, or what I call gut feeling.  This is not a sense that one should readily dismiss.  It is very real and we all have it, to some degree.  All too often, we choose to ignore it, usually to our detriment. 

Now, I want to be clear.  When I use the word “intuition,”  I am not referring to psychic ability.  That is another thing altogether – a more advanced level of intuition.

My mother was most definitely not a psychic, but she was very, very intuitive (as was her mother before her, and as am I).  She called it both a blessing and a curse.  A blessing, because when she listened to her sixth sense, she was able to circumvent potential problems or challenges, as they cropped up.  A curse, because she intuitively guessed what people were thinking or how they were going to act (again, not in an ESP-type of way), and sometimes she would have preferred to be wrong.  The following real-life scenarios illustrate her point.


The year was 1966. One morning, my mother was getting us all ready for school (I was in Grade 2; my brother and sister were in high school) but as she was moving about the kitchen, she seemed very out of sorts.  A sensitive little girl, I asked her what was wrong and she looked at me strangely and said “I really don’t know.”  I offered to stay home from school (not because it would have been a good excuse to miss class, but because I was truly alarmed by her demeanor), but she insisted that we all had to go so that we wouldn’t miss our respective school buses.  Mid-afternoon, my father received a call at his office.  It was my mother. She told him that he needed to come home right away, because she was dying (her exact words were “Come home now. I’m dying.”).  Now, although the women in my family have always had a flair for the dramatic, my father instantly realized this was not one of those moments.  He immediately called an ambulance, and rushed home (his office, thankfully, was nearby).  Her blood pressure was almost fatally low, due to internal hemorrhaging. She received an emergency blood transfusion. The doctor said that had my mother waited five minutes longer to make that phone call, she would indeed have been dead.  

When she woke up that morning, she knew that something was very wrong but could not pinpoint what it was.  She felt no pain…  just very uneasy.  This had never happened to her before, so she did not have a frame of reference.   She listened to her gut instinct and, as a result, she lived on for another forty-two years.  A blessing – for her, and for our entire family.


If you ever wanted a character assessment of a friend, lover, fiancé (fiancée), or husband (wife) – my mother was the go-to gal.  The problem was that her “gut feelings” were not always what one wanted to hear.  She was always right – no exception.  She instinctively knew whether someone was a betrayer, an opportunist or just simply bad news.  Family, friends and friends of friends would all flock to my mother for her “opinion” and she would inevitably warn them with “You may not like what I have to say.”   She was more than willing to dispense her wisdom, because she fervently believed that it was “better to be safe, than sorry.”

One day (circa 1970), a young woman (friend of a friend) bumped into my mother at the shopping center.  They chatted for awhile and the woman, “Pat” (not her real name), went on and on about this new man she was seeing.  She said he was perfect.  He was nine years older than her (she was twenty) and treated her like a princess (he took her to nice places, and bought her jewelry).  In her eyes, he was Mr. Right.  Then, Pat’s brow furrowed.  She told my mother that she was confused about one thing.  He was very reserved about his family life.  He preferred to keep conversations light and easy, at all times.  At this point, my mother tilted her head and looked at Pat carefully, then asked her How serious are you (about the man)?”  “I want to marry him,” was the response, and then I would like your opinion of him.”  My mother said, “Let’s arrange a random meeting here at the shopping center. Bring him with you.  I’d like to meet him.”

The next day, they “accidentally” ran into each other.   After the standard pleasantries, my 4’11” mother looked up at the 6’1″ man.   “John” (not his real name) was indeed very handsome and he spoke smoothly.  My mother always looked a person in the eye.  This man’s eyes kept shifting away from her gaze, as they spoke.  She ended their chat and they said their goodbyes.  That evening, Pat phoned my mother – to hear what she had to say.  My mother said only two words:  “He’s married.”   Pat shrieked NO, HE IS NOT!”  and hung up the phone.  She called back a second later and said, in a subdued voice, “How can I know for sure, without asking him directly?”  The answer she received was Well, if you ask him directly, he’ll probably lie to your face.  You could always hire a private detective or… you could tell him that you love him and that you want to marry him.  Then, see how he reacts.”  Of course, my mother knew exactly how he would react. 

A week later, my mother received a call from Pat, who said she felt that her world had come crashing down on her.  When Pat told John that she loved him and wanted them to get married, he recoiled and then told her that he was married and had two small children.  She never heard from him again.   Pat said that she wished she had never asked my mother to meet the man.  My mother informed her that she knew what he was, before she even met him. She also told Pat that she was a naïve, young woman who needed to do some growing up and that, one day, she’ll find the right man. 

Years later, “Pat” married a lovely fellow and they live happily with their three kids and two dogs. 

Odds are, however, that “John” is no longer married.

My mother did not enjoy being the bearer of bad news, the curse of her strong intuition.  Yet sometimes, even curses can transform into blessings.

It’s all a matter of perspective, I suppose.

In the past, whenever I’ve ignored my gut instinct, I’ve lived to regret it.  And, since I strive to have as few regrets has possible, I always listen to my inner voice.  It never lets me down.

My mother was right.

Image via

Keep That Lens Focused

Following from my May 16th blog, Maximize Your Five Senses, I will be writing (all week) about each of the five senses (and the sixth sense) and sharing with you some of the wisdom that my mother imparted to me.

This series of blogs is dedicated to her.

Hlens (3)

“The greatest thing a human soul ever does in this world is to see something, and tell what it saw in a plain way.  Hundreds of people can talk for one who can think, but thousands can think for one who can see.  To see clearly is poetry, prophecy, and religion – all in one.”
―  John Ruskin,  Modern Painters

My mother always spoke to me with her eyes.  She was most definitely not mute, but she nevertheless  preferred to communicate via her eyes.  Oh, the conversations we used to have!  Just a glance ― grey-green eyes meeting grey-green eyes ― message sent and received.  I knew exactly what she was thinking.

She taught me how to be quiet, stay still and watch.  Observe.  Focus. Notice every detail.  See beyond the obvious. 

She taught me that a person’s eyes tell a story.  In a flash, she could tell when someone was lying or when someone was trying to hide some emotional scar.  She was able to see beneath the surface. Her eyes missed nothing. 

She taught me well.

What I know now, that I didn’t know then, is that my mother was training me to be a writer. 

With this heightened sense of sight  (a great feat for me, since I’ve been wearing  very thick eyeglasses,  since the age of two!), I observe everything keenly and then, I write.

Our sense of sight is one of the most  – if not the most – precious of the five senses.  It is so important to take care of it.  I nearly caused some serious damage to my eyes when I went through a phase where I would sleep with my contact lenses in, for days on end.   Foolish vanity.  I now wear  my eyeglasses 99% of the time.  And my lenses are perfectly focused.

When my mother was in hospice care, she – along with many of the other patients – would be wheeled into  a lounging area.  She was often confused as to where she was (and why).  Her confusion, however, did not extend to me.  She knew exactly who I was. One of my last memories of her was when I was walking down the corridor towards the lounge and, from about a hundred feet away, she spotted me instantly. Her eyes danced, as she clapped her hands with joy.  Her eyes followed me as I came closer – grey-green eyes locked onto  grey-green eyes.   We embraced and I held her small, frail body as tightly as I could, without hurting her.

That was eight years ago this week.  Not a day goes by without me remembering her expressive, mischievous eyes.  And when I look into the mirror, there they are.

Her Eyes


Gone are the eyes that watched me grow
The eyes that were able to see into my soul
Together we climbed mountains and made it through the pain
Only to find out that someday it would be forever changed

As you’ve gotten weaker, I’ve gotten stronger
Able to take care of myself even though I didn’t want to

You’d be proud of my wit, my confidence and my charm
People say I’m just like you and I know all about your charms
The eyes are in my heart, the eyes that saw my soul
But gone are the beautiful eyes, the eyes that watched me grow

Maximize Your Five Senses


“Our senses are indeed our doors and windows on this world, in a very real sense the key to the unlocking of meaning and the wellspring of creativity.”

Jean Houston  

There is one thing I know for sure:  we should never take anything or anyone for granted.  The saying “Here today, gone tomorrow” rings true for many of us, unfortunately.  Such is the reality of life.  That is why we must savor every moment and appreciate those around us – open our eyes, ears  and minds to all the wonderful experiences that are ours to earn and to claim.

What connects us – to ourselves, to each other, and to everything we do – is very basic… so basic, in fact, that not only do many of us take it for granted, we also fail to maximize its potential.  What does “it” refer to? 


We have five basic senses:  sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch.  When we utilize these senses to their fullest extent and in every aspect of our lives, we achieve success and fulfillment… and, most of all, balance.  Those who are missing one or more senses (due to blindness, deafness, a physical inability to smell, impaired taste buds, or paralysis) often find that their remaining senses are heightened.

In the following weeks, I will be writing about each of the five senses – exploring their impact and potential, and sharing a few pertinent anecdotes along the way.  Storytelling is, after all, the most powerful way to connect  people with ideas and thoughts. And finally, I will dedicate a blog to what is commonly referred to as the “sixth sense.”   More on that later.

Upcoming heatherfromthegrove blog:  “Keep That Lens Focused.”   

Until then… enjoy the journey.

Image via