Looking and Not Talking

  I’m hanging in a wordless space, even as I write these words. Recently home from a family trip on the Oregon coast for the holidays, I’m savoring all I saw and heard there: my family, of course; and also blustery winds and rain; thundering waves; squawking seabirds; towers of sand; and fairy woodlands, waterfalls dashing amidst stones and trees adorned with moss, lichen and teeny mushrooms. People I love are still facing serious health crises and I’m silently holding them in my heart. Yesterday I gathered with friends as in creative silence we asked our personal dreams for 2019 to appear on vision boards. The visual storyteller Maira Kalman, when asked about her love of museums, spoke of the peace in “just wandering and looking…I think we have the opportunity to understand silence around us, and really looking all the time.  There’s always the opportunity. And there’s never a lack of things to look at, and there’s never a lack of time not to talk.” Looking and not talking. Yes, I’ve been in this space and do not want to leave it. So this month I offer a few pictures for you to look at and ponder if you choose, with some white space around them…                                                                   (The entire “On Being” interview with Kalman, sent to me by a dear friend, is fabulous and can be found HERE.)...

Gift from a Horse

Nearly three weeks ago I went to a daylong personal growth workshop with horses. Because horses are powerful, gentle and extremely sensitive they are used for confidence building with special needs adults and children, in leadership training and team building and in personal coaching. In personal growth work horses are not ridden; participants touch, lead and observe them. I had read that they are excellent mirrors  because they attune to what our bodies, emotions, thoughts and energy tell them and they detect and respond to any conflicting messages that we send. I’d been looking forward to the workshop for weeks—though I was also a bit nervous because I had no experience with horses and had always been rather afraid of them. The day of the workshop I woke feeling tired, spacey, weepy and fragile. And I was limping a little with a sore hip. Yet I had paid my fees and a friend was picking me up, so I went. We worked in an indoor ring with four male horses and their handlers doing a series of exercises, beginning with greeting each horse and deciding which one to partner with. In between exercises we met in circle to discuss our experiences and observations. During the course of the day we spent time breathing with “our” horse, listening for messages from the horse, and leading “our” horse on a path which represented a life challenge. I chose to work with one of the white horses, Shooter, because he seemed the most gentle. And I felt affection for him right away. Shooter taught me something during every activity (and everyone there experienced different...

Spinning My Wheels

I want to post a blog touching on one of my usual themes—wonder, creativity, humor—but today those feel a little scarce. Well, I do feel wonder as I sit today in this blizzard, the worst I’ve seen in many years.  And in mid-April yet. I know a few of you are living where spring has indeed arrived. I hope you are full of renewed energy. For us in the Midwest, not much has changed for the better in the outer world in the past two weeks, when I wrote about struggling to find my patience. Now that impatience–for spring, for positive change, inside and out–feels more discouraging than angry. I feel kind of muffled and mired, able to do all the necessary daily tasks but lacking the will and energy to do the many things that would probably lift my spirits and vitality. Or maybe just feeling tired of doing them all winter and wanting a change. Wanting the sensual contact with nature that spring brings. The grounding. The joy. I wrote this poem several years ago, but it feels appropriate today as I realize what’s missing right now (not all of which involves springtime): Groundless  For too many days now I have not danced, tickled spritish spirit with leaps and twirls, or dissolved, exhilarated, in sunshine splash, been pricked awake by gusty winds or cardinal call, clutched rainbow blossoms to my greedy nose, or burned to merge with musk and sweat.   Too many days since I have sought the dark, ventured in, with quiet breath, pen in hand, to listen and dictate whisperings wild.   begin—stop—veer—clunk! rattle!–turn back–...

Don’t Bore the Gods!

I had a humbling Aha! moment the other day. Humbling but also freeing. Tom and I have been reading a series of young adult novels, The Lost Years of Merlin. The five book series, which imagine Merlin from about age 9 to adulthood, are fun, full of enchanted forests, haunted marshland, fanciful and magical creatures, and resourceful humans (including females!). Merlin, who has discovered his grandfather was a great wizard, knows he has special abilities (though he doesn’t know much about what they are) and that he is destined to be a wizard also. Yet he struggles with this, alternating between being too cocky about his powers (and then either losing them or misusing them in some way) and angrily declaring he has no powers and will never fulfill his destiny (poor me). Friends tell him how he demonstrates courage and heart, and magical beings declare he has more power than he knows. We the readers know that all this is true, but Merlin, in typical adolescent fashion, moodily brushes it all away. While we were reading the third book, both Tom and I commented that we were getting bored with Merlin’s constant worry about his powers and whether he would fulfill his destiny. We hoped he would wise up soon. The Aha! came the next day while swimming at the health club. With embarrassment I suddenly realized I DO THIS! For years now I have worried aloud about what I am “meant” to do in the world and discounted or minimized what I have done. I fretted that my offerings were “not enough,” because I could do more,...

Deer Delight

For some time now I’ve been working on living more playfully (the irony of this is not lost on me). A frolicking fawn and her mother reminded me recently how it’s done. As I mentioned in my last newsletter, I gathered with a group of wonderful women a few weeks ago at a camp nestled in the woods on Madeline Island in order to bless Lake Superior. One day, as six or eight of us left the dining hall after a meal, we noticed a fawn and her mother. We were surprised to see them standing in the camp’s fenced in tennis court. Women and deer stood motionless, watching each other. Suddenly the fawn began to play, literally kicking up her heels around her mother, white tail bobbing up and down. Despite trying to be still and quiet so as not to scare them, we couldn’t help but exclaim with delight. And keep watching. After a bit, the mother set aside her caution about us and to our astonishment, joined in the fun, the two of them leaping and bobbing, circling each other with abandon. They lowered their heads and lifted their bottoms in little leaps, the way I’ve seen two dogs cavort, circling each other in play. Goofy-looking, and adorable. We were enchanted. None of us, avid nature-watchers all, had seen a mother and her fawn play together like this. We felt honored and thankful to be treated to this gambol which would ordinarily happen (I assume) deep in the woods. The deer’s exuberance was contagious. We felt the kind of elation—love and laughter entwined with the freshest of breezes–one...

Free From the List

We all try so hard in January: to “do better,” to complete the “shoulds” we failed to complete last year. Not me. Spirit is handling my agenda these days. And with more wisdom, kindness and efficiency than when I was in charge. I have been an organized, list-making gal, believing that lists were what made me efficient and productive. I was indeed efficient and productive, generally completing my daily or weekly to-do lists (“work”) before more exciting things (“play”). When I noticed I seldom found time for fun or creative activities, I began adding them to the lists. But grumpiness often muddied satisfaction in my competence. Then one day a shift happened. I looked at my to-do list in a new way. Instead of the sum of “what must happen today,” I saw it as a compendium of suggestions. I began asking, “what needs to happen today?”—and “what does NOT need to happen today?” Not what my clipboard-clutching, inner drill sergeant calls “need,” but need from a larger perspective. Perhaps what a soaring hawk’s sharp eye might perceive. To discover this I had to pause, breathe, shift attention from my head (and all its “shoulds”) into my belly and listen. “Make the call to the repairman now. You don’t need to pay that medical bill today.” This felt different. I didn’t resist because the drill sergeant was no longer ordering me around; instead, the hawk’s larger view was helping me see what was required in my world. These messages—whether from Hawk, my intuition, Spirit, or all three—worked well:  just before my call a cancellation freed up the repairman; postponing...