July 16 • 09:19 AM

Signs, signs, everywhere a sign...

June 26, 2019
I am a believer in symbols and signs.

I don't know when the propensity to believe began—I think it's always been there—in my DNA. I come from a long line of believers, and would be remiss if I didn't acknowledge my mom's noteworthy gift for these things. Her intuition was amazing and always bang on. She was gifted with many signs. I am, too.

I ask for them often, so the signs I see shouldn't surprise me, but they always, always do. As quirky as they may seem, as "out there" as may be perceived, I don't question them because I know. Some things are not simply coincidental. Some things happen because they are meant to; they are signs.

Like the one I got after my dad died. A robin built a nest in a cedar platform bird feeder he'd made for my yard. This never happened in all the 18 years I'd lived there, and it hasn't happened in the eight years since. For years, much to my folks' chagrin, a robin would persistently make a nest on top of the yard light my dad installed just outside the back door. After he died, she moved to the dining room windowsill so my mom could see the signs of new life. And Robin's sister chose the feeder he'd built for me to show me, too. It was remarkable, uplifting. And I knew.

Last spring, after my mom passed away, a flock of swans made a graceful stop in the farm field right next to my woods. They stayed for several days. Their beautiful, slender necks and stunning white feathers stood out like bright white light in the black muck field. Heaven on earth. Like the robin, this never happened before. In the one spring that has followed—this spring—wet and flooded as that field was, no swans appeared.

When I entered yoga teacher training a few years ago, initially I thought I'd made a mistake. I thought I'd over-reached my capabilities and that I wouldn't be able to keep up. The fellow Functional Yoga Academy trainees I was enrolled with were considerably younger. I had 20 years on the next "oldest" student, and the youngest one was a man, age 27. The remaining were 30, 25, and 37 respectively. I was 59.

The initial session was brutal. An hour-and-a-half of hot vinyasa—a vigorous practice that involves flowing from one asana (yoga pose) to another, with plenty of chaturangas involved. Similar to a traditional push-up, a chaturanga strengthens and tones the wrists, arms, abs and lower back, and strengthens the muscles surrounding the spine. It's great prep for more challenging arm balance poses like crow and handstand. As part of the Sun Salutation sequence, chaturanga is practiced countless times during an Ashtanga practice, which is what I was trained in. It's also used in vinyasa and power yoga practices.

At the time, I couldn't complete one—not to mention 75 or 100 in a row— without going down to my knees. I was grateful for the darkened room, as it hid the tears I shed throughout most of that first practice.

During the break (for showering and snagging some food) before tackling the hours of bookwork, I went out to my vehicle to be alone to sit and think for a bit. I wanted to figure out if this whole big idea of mine was going to work.

On the way back into the studio, located in yet another very busy Kroger Plaza in Clarkston, there was a white feather on the ground right in front of the doorway. And there was my answer.

The white feather had become yet another sign. I visited my mom the weekend after my dad's funeral and took her to church. When we walked back into the house, there was a small white feather floating in the kitchen. No reason a white feather should have been there. Could be it had worked its way loose from a pillow in one of the upstairs bedrooms and floated down at that moment. But my mom and I knew otherwise.

Yesterday, while sitting at my kitchen table, which my grandfather purchased for his wife Caterina in 1935, I received yet another sign. Linked, like all things, to this go around on the planet, to my ancestors and their ancestors, who have made this life experience as I know it. What a gift—worthy of sharing another time.

Email Catherine at

Catherine Minolli is Managing Editor of the Tri-City Times. She began as a freelance writer with the Times in 1994. She enjoys the country life, including raising ducks and chickens.
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