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Yesterday there was a bright patch of green plants in the area where I toss compostables over the fence. Today, there were two large bright white mushrooms that must have sprouted overnight. This is the smaller one, about the size of the palm of your hand. You can see the wavy margin on the bottom of the cap, which I expect will grow larger tomorrow.

I learned about mushrooms from my uncle, who used to farm them commercially. He told me I had ideal growing conditions. “Just mix a bale of hay into a pile of horse manure,” he said. “Let it sit for awhile. Then buy your favorite mushrooms at the store, chop them up, and stir them into the growing mixture. Water the pile a bit, but don’t let things get soggy. Before you know it, you’ll be growing exotic mushrooms.”

I do love mushrooms, but I have not yet gotten around to following his growing recipe. Still, I love to see them pop up on their own. He is right, they seem to like the places with horse manure.

Most things in the natural world change gradually, including the things in our lives. Plants grow a little each day. Tiny buds get gradually bigger. Blooms unfold a petal at a time.

Mushrooms, though, appear overnight. They weren’t there and then vavoom! When these vavoom moments happen in our lives, we are often unprepared for them.

Caregiving is a daily process. Our loved one’s condition may progress faster or slower, and we get used to making those adjustments, “I see she isn’t driving anymore,” you notice, and figure out another way to handle errands and transportation.

Sometimes you get mushroom changes that spring up overnight. Yesterday you faced this familiar pattern. Today is wholly new. Big changes can knock us out of equilibrium. Our old plans and coping skills suddenly don’t work anymore. We were so competent and comfortable handling that other situation, but we have no idea what to bring to this new one.

When big changes come be gentle to yourself. Indulge your need to cry or dance or have an extra glass of wine. You may want to be with friends, or you may want to be alone. Listen to your heart’s call and follow it. Your heart’s wish is the beacon you will follow through the maze of confusion until, once more, you can find the light.

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