Saturday, December 14, 2013


I want to write about faith,
about the way the moon rises
over cold snow, night after night,
faithful even as it fades from fullness,
slowly becoming that last curving and impossible
sliver of light before the final darkness.
But I have no faith myself,
I refuse it the smallest entry.
Let this then, my small poem,
like a new moon, slender and barely open,
be the first prayer that opens me to faith.

                             ~ David Whyte

One of my favorite poems... It speaks so clearly to me, about me, for me. Winter is here. Time to turn deeply inward and simply BE.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Quiet... Patient... Open...

 The quieter we are, the more patient and open we are in our sadnesses, the more 
deeply and serenely the new presence can enter us... 
~ Rainer Maria Rilke ~

That deep sadness is back. I feel it moving through the internal organs of my body. It doesn't actually stay in my heart; that's where I think it should be found. But no, it's in my stomach and my kidney and even moves into muscles, like my calf, or deep fascia, like my foot's plantar.

Under the sadness is something so real it is beyond expression. Maybe it is my essence. I'm not sure, but it feels unchanging and truly is always there. It brings comfort and certainty. Each moment simply unfolding...

Life feels unsteady, even rocky; and sharp edges are everywhere. I'm not sure of where I'm going or what lies ahead. But if I can remain in presence, the sense of well being restores my body, my inner strength, and  my mind's clarity. This presence reminds me life is good.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Lifelong Friends first life, 
the life I admire
and want to follow
looks on and listens
with some wonder, 
and even extends 
a reassuring hand 
for the one holding back,...

David Whyte, Excerpt "My Second LIfe" 

I am sharing a weekend with lifelong friends. These women are so uniquely individual and yet similar. I witness us moving through each day, in awe of their inner strength, their joy, their struggles, and their pure being.

Many years ago I graduated from high school and chose my college for the silliest of reasons. I wanted to be as far away as possible from home. It had to be place I'd never been and yet not so isolated that I was a total stranger. I chose the University of Tulsa and enrolled sight unseen in the fall of 1965.

My best friend, Douy, was going and her parents drove us both from Springfield, Illinois. I had my father's huge trunk from his WWII military service and several suitcases. We didn't have refrigerators or computers. But we did have clock radios, over sized hairdryers, and a forbidden hotplate.

We decided to arrive before classes actually began in order to experience "rush week." For those not familiar with sororities and fraternities, this is the time you parade through various sorority houses, attend parties and teas, and if you are lucky, you are chosen to join your favorite house.

As a first-generation college student, I was excited and terrified by this totally foreign experience. I immediately liked the girls at the Kappa Alpha Theta house. Who can explain these things? It's real. It's a connection, unique and strong. As it turned out the other girls who also chose Theta would become some of my lifelong friends.

I think it is quite remarkable that you can see someone after 15, 25, or 47 years and simply pick up your friendship where it was left. We haven't miss a beat, these amazing ladies and I. Our time together is filled with laughter and tears, memories and updates, surprises and familiar connections.

Truly, the gift of this weekend is how just being together in each other's presence nurtured and supported us perfectly in a way we each needed. I am forever grateful for the love, acceptance, and encouragement I received. I can only hope I was able to provide a bit of that for them.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

My Life...

"I want my life to be my calling. I don't want to waste another moment. Every choice, every conversation, every breath. I want them done with awareness. I devote my life to being awake and awakening others."
                                                                               Laurel Schwartz

This has become my mantra. You know that mental loop endlessly repeating itself over and over inside your head. I have had so many different loops during my life and most not particularly helpful or encouraging. But this one is different. This one rings out to every cell of my being. It makes me smile. It reminds me life is perfect in every moment. It brings me into a deep understanding of life and an appreciation of everyone I encounter.

The Buddha said suffering is evitable. It is simply part of the experience of being alive on this earth. There are three kinds of Buddhists: ones that wish to eliminate all suffering and enjoy life; those who want to go beyond the suffering of this world and reach nirvana; and the third group who devote each breath to relieving the suffering of all beings. They understand how interconnected we all are. They know that as long as one being continues to suffer, we all suffer.

I'm not so full of myself to think I've reached this third elevated state, but I do sincerely want to be awake in each moment. More importantly, I want to use every breath, every conversation to offer what I have experienced to others.

Mantras are sacred sounds vibrating in ways that change the structure of your cells. They provide a deep tune-up and help dissolve old patterns of thought and being that no longer serve you. This new mental loop I've been repeating isn't a classic Sanskrit mantra, but I'd like to believe it is my sacred sound carrying me into a place where I can truly serve myself and others.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Cherish Ordinary Days...

It has taken a while, but I certainly do know it now- 
the most wonderful gift I had, 
the gift I've finally learned to cherish above all else, 
was the gift of all those perfectly ordinary days.           ~Katrina Kenison

Lately I've been struggling with a severe case of plantarfasciitis in 
both feet and tendinitis in my ankle. The doctor said it might take 
six months to heal. I'm faithfully engaging in various stretches 
incorporating them into my daily Yoga practice. I've curtailed my 
walking, apply ice and sometimes heat to tired, sore feet and spend 
more time with my feet up.

More than one friend has suggested the universe might be sending 
a message to slow down. I've certainly received that message before 
and it usually comes more than once (stronger each time) until I 
listen. I'm listening, I promise!

Ordinary days, everyday moments fill our lives in ways that often go
unnoticed. As a longtime meditator, I like to believe I pay attention. 
That I really notice things around me. But the reality is mindfulness 
and being present are lifetime practices. Like chopping wood and
carrying water, we put one foot in front of the other, moment 
after moment and wonder, "can we stay alert, awake, alive to 
all that is?"

It's a practice and each time I miss the mark, I feel gratitude for 
the chance to try again. Don't be discouraged if you are forgetful or 
thoughts take you away from what is here in the present moment. 
Just allow the realization of not being present to be a pointer back 
to presence. Remember even our forgetting is perfect. Let go of all
expectations and appreciate the gift of ordinary days.

Thursday, May 16, 2013


Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are. ~ Marianne Williamson

This morning is it! I'm really going to post something. I've been stuck in the invisible muck of procrastination, but my day has begun in such an amazing way, I want to write about it.

Mornings are my thing. I love the morning. I have only occasionally seen the sunrise since the time change, but it's calling to me. Soon I may be awaking before dawn again. It is my very favorite time because the world seems to be steeped in silence. Meditation just flows, and I feel such a deep sense of being.

I scheduled my annual mamogram for today and chose early morning, as I always do, to go for it. I was a little bit nervous because I'd had surgery last year and, well, if you're a woman, you know that mammogram machine can be brutal. I arrived on time, checked in and barely sat down, when a woman open the door and motioned for me to follow her.

I noticed immediately that she had a bandana tied around her neck. The paisley print coordinated nicely with her light purple scrubs. She turned toward me, placed her fingers over the scarf at her throat and said, "Take everything off from the waist up and put on the gown opened to the front."

Her speech was rough and difficult to understand, but I knew the drill. The moment I saw her hand move to her throat, I thought of the advertisement of the cancer survivor. You know, the woman getting ready for work, talking about the risks of throat cancer and urging people not to smoke. My next thought was completely judgmental. Why do people smoke when they know this could happen? What a horrible disease, etc.

I recognized in an instant, they were just thoughts. I didn't need them and detached; I wanted to be open to the moment. As she led me into the room where the machine was waiting, she again turned toward me, made eye contact and said, "I've have throat cancer and they had to remove my voice box. If you have any trouble understanding me, please let me know. Could I have your name and date of birth?"

Something touched me deeply as I responded to her request. After giving her my information, I told her I was glad the surgery went well. Her face softened and she was visibly relieved. She began to share her story. The cancer was discovered under her voice box last October. Following the surgery she took 2 1/2 months off and has been back at work for almost two months. She never smoked, but grew up around secondhand smoke. She was so matter-of-fact, not a trace of bitterness.

We talked about how lucky she was to be a survivor. She said she has been working at mammogram center for 27 years and the thought of not being able to come back to work was nearly unbearable. I told her she did a great job and to stay healthy. She gave me a bright smile, "See you next year!"

Although I have heard secondhand smoke is a cause of cancer, I'd never known anyone unlucky enough to have it. My favorite uncle died of throat cancer when I was a freshman in college. It was terribly sad, a very difficult experience and my first encounter with cancer. Since then what I notice for me is a prickliness, fear, anxiety and discomfort around "cancer."

What I felt today was the genuine warmth and authenticity of truly connecting with another human being. I may never see her again, and yet we connected. I was able to communicate with her, without negative emotions. Just two spirits being in presence. It was amazing.

I could have allowed my mind to go to an entirely different place. I could have shut her out, felt uncomfortable with her speech and her outward image of cancer. She could have spoken about all the horrors of having cancer.

What is it that allows us to recognize joy? Some days it is just there and I am so grateful.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Thomas A. Edison

"I'd put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don't have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that. I wish I had more years left."

"I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."
"When you have exhausted all possibilities, remember this - you haven't."
                                                                               ~Thomas A. Edison

I spent the day in Ft. Myers, Florida at the Edison-Ford Estates and it was amazing. Of course, I knew Thomas Edison was an extraordinary inventor. But I now have an enormous respect for him as a human being as well. The first quote is my very favorite, at least so far...

Here is a guy who invented the light bulb, phonograph, motion picture cameras, to name a few and then tirelessly researched plants from all over the world to find an alternative source for rubber. He has more patents registered than anyone else and most remarkably, he never gave up inventing. When most would have long retired, he found enjoyment in his laboratory in Ft. Myers until he died peacefully at the age of 84.

I'm amazed that he had such foresight about solar energy and disappointed no one followed through with his assumption. I suspect if Edison had lived longer, we would have found a way to harness the Sun's energy. Perhaps we would even be free of our dependence on oil. What a marvelous vision...

The magnificent beauty of the grounds are spellbinding, carrying you back to a time where everyday life was leisure and filled with discovery. There are hundreds of trees and plants from all over the world. In his search for a different rubber source, Edison imported 100's of trees and plants from six continents. The famous Banyan, planted in 1925 as a four-foot tree, now covers almost an acre of the grounds. Tour guides boast the gardens contain over 1700 plants representing 400 species, including tropical fruit trees, orchids, bromeliads, cycads, and more than 50 species of palms.

When Edison first arrived in Ft. Myers, it could only reached by boat. The population was something like 350. All of the building materials for his home came by boat traveling down the Caloosahatchee River. How strange that must have been. The photo is of the dock that greeted boats and visitors arriving at the Edison Estate.

Now the metropolitan area of Ft. Myers/Cape Coral has grown to over 600,000. It is a very busy city with lots of traffic, plenty to see and do, and veritable melting pot of diverse cultures. Maybe someone there or somewhere in the world is poised to fulfilled Edison's vision of the power of solar energy.