12/12/14 The Purpose of Winter

Maybe the whole purpose of winter is to help us appreciate color whenever it does appear. Thank you red, thank you blue. 

October 16, 2014: Thank you for October

"I'm glad I live in a world where there are Octobers."
--L.M. Montgomery, 
Anne of Green Gables

"Autumn...the year's last, loveliest smile." 
--William Cullen Bryant

What a lovely time I had with Linda that day, sitting, chatting, and painting by this flower garden across from Stella's along Melrose. 

Thank you, pal! 

Let the Dog Find You

“Back to the woods,” songwriter Greg Brown writes in “Eugene” about a road trip he takes to the Northwest. “A dog is bound to find me sooner or/Later. Sometimes you gotta not look too hard – just let the/Dog find you.” Yet earlier in the song he writes, “Sometimes you have to go/Look for your life.” 

Yes, life is such a dance, isn’t it – of knowing when to look….but also knowing when to just relax and let the dog do the work of finding us.

Love is Strange

Drawing this sculpture made me really appreciate the way it fits so well into the treescape around it.

June 2, 2014: Hope and Beauty

Full of hope, I put the little coreopsis plant in the ground two weeks ago, and now here it is, blooming its little heart out. Andrew Harvey says, “Daily life is an uninterrupted dance of miracles, but only the eyes of love can see that” (from Dialogues with a Modern Mystic, by Andrew Harvey and Mark Matousek). When I open the door and see this plant, I can’t help but look on it with eyes of love – not only for its beauty, but also for demonstrating the truth that sometimes what we hope for does transpire.

January 17, 2014: What's Your Story?

Meditation practitioners refer to the inner "story" that most of us have going on in our minds so much of the time. We tend to live in our minds, with our thoughts narrating our experiences: "I like this." "I don't like that." "I want more of this, less of that." 

We can identify so much with our inner stories that we miss out on new experiences and opportunities. A meditation practice helps us sit in awareness of our stories, yet without overly identifying with them. During a meditation session we can invite our stories in -- as Thich Nhat Hanh suggests, we can tell ourselves "Dear One, I am here for you" and listen compassionately and non-judgmentally to our stories -- but then we can also train our minds to let the stories go. This letting-go is often called "dropping the storyline," or "nonidentification with the story."

Dropping our storyline doesn't mean we don't make changes when we need to; it does mean that we become less preoccupied with or controlled by ruminative thoughts or negative emotions that may not be useful to us...and more clear about when and how to take action. 

Paradoxically, it all starts with a welcoming awareness and compassionate acceptance. We invite the stories in, without trying to solve anything -- "Have a seat and tell me all about it. I'm here for you." And then we practice letting them go.