9/28/17: Trading Security for Intensity


“The uncertainty of a freelance writing career,” Lori Erickson told me once, “is that it tends to keep you at the top of your game. You can’t relax in the same way as with a regular job. There’s a hunting mentality to it. You have to be alert, but there’s a kind of adrenaline that is exciting. That’s what you get in exchange for lack of security.”

Lori is a good friend. She has also been a valuable and generous mentor to me over the years as I have pursued my own freelancing career. Lori has published over a thousand articles in national and regional publications; she also authors a popular spiritual/travel blog at Patheos called “Holy Rover.”
Now, her biggest game to date: Holy Rover: Journeys in Search of Mystery, Miracles, and God. This delightful, thought-provoking, and inspiring memoir of faith and travel has been named by Amazon as the #1 Release in Literary and Religious Travel Guides.

I’m so glad Lori’s years of work at developing her sharp hunting skills have led her to bagging this beautiful book. May her wisdom and faith inspire all of us to follow our own passions, choose uncertainty over security, and become the best hunter/gathers that we can, each in our own way.

(You can order your copy of Lori’s book here.  Click here to listen to Lori talk about her book with Charity Nebbe on “Talk of Iowa.”)

9/25/17: Bingo

Years ago a talented artist told me he tends to like only one out of ten paintings. I try to keep that in mind when I'm experimenting with drawing and painting. 

Over the weekend I watched a few instructional videos by Marc Taro Holmes that I found on the Craftsy web site, and I practiced a few of his techniques. His teaching style really speaks to me. I made several sketches but was frustrated by my limited skills...and then, bingo, I came up with the one above, and it made me smile. 

When one out of ten happens, I'm quite sure it releases joy into the atmosphere. 

9/22/17: Overachievers?

It has to be one of the overachievers of the plant world, doesn't it? All that work, all summer long, to develop those big green leaves, and then finally, finally that colorful flower that is so small in proportion to all the rest. I love cannas for their earnestness. 

9/22/17: Lucky Root, Lucky Us

"No risk is more terrifying than that taken by the first root. A lucky root will eventually find water, but its first job is to anchor -- to anchor an embryo and forever end its mobile phrase, however passive that mobility was. Once the first root is extended, the plant will never again enjoy any hope (however feeble) of relocating to a place less cold, less dry, less dangerous....The tiny rootlet has only one chance to guess what the future years, decades -- even centuries -- will bring to the patch of soil where it sits. It assesses the light and humidity of the moment, refers to its programming, and quite literally takes the plunge." (from Lab Girl, by Hope Jahren)

Wow. Just wow. This makes me appreciate all the trees in our 'hood even more. 

5/10/17: Beauty

 Oh, the sights, sounds, and smells of spring. All that natural beauty offered for free, and without the need to promote itself or achieve special recognition. Amazing.  

April 4, 2017: Tree Meditation















In my sketchbook I finally caught an essence of the backyard birch last night as the sun was going down. The textures and colors of the trunk are so mesmerizing. I meditate on this tree regularly and have fallen in love with it. 

March 21, 2017: Sat, Chit, Ananda


“Sat, chit, and ananda: ‘infinite being, infinite awareness, infinite bliss.’ Does the ordinary, decent, secular American aspire to that? Does he see it as within his register? There’s a special circle in Dante’s hell that is populated by souls whose only fault was that their aspirations were too low.” –Huston Smith, Parabola Magazine, Dec. 2016.

I heard this quote in a dharma talk given by Bussho Lahn on Sunday morning at the Minneapolis Zen Center. Smith’s words echoed in my mind later at the Minneapolis Institute of Art while I stood in front of this sculpture titled “Rendevous.” Created in 1981 from Indiana limestone by Apache artist Allan Houser (1914-1994), the sculpture was positioned near a colorful, woven Native American blanket.

I felt transfixed, just drinking it all in. I mean, talk about being, awareness, and bliss! At least for the moment, my aspirations were definitely not too low. And several days later, while drawing and painting the scene with pen and gouache, I experienced it all over again: sat, chit, ananda.

Art, religion, meditation, nature, music, literature...there are so many ways to raise our aspirations.