Monday, October 30, 2017

Lightening up for Fall

It's nesting season again. October rolls around and after the Indian summer days have come and gone  and we go through the rather meaningless ritual of returning to Standard Time, I get an urge to tidy and sort and clean things out so that my winter habitat is peaceful and supportive. It's also a good time to lighten my load.

I recently went through my closet and filled some donation bags for the thrift store, cleaned out my basement storage unit, setting aside old tax returns and papers for shredding and reconsidering getting rid of all that stuff I keep hanging on to. Will I ever need that air filter set up that I bought a decade ago? Do I really need three suitcases? Is it time to jettison those boxes of old journals?

I like sorting and tidying my stuff. It's a practice I learned from my mother, who parted with things easily, and who also taught me how helpful it is to know what we have--and where it is--in case we do need it.

What rituals signal Fall for you?

Wednesday, October 25, 2017


Took a walk
on Marmot Rd
on Mt Hood
Not a house in sight
only one set of mailboxes
and three gravel drives
into the thick, wild woods
of moss and ferns
pine and fir
yet signs of us were everywhere
A McDonald's cup and french fry sleeve
3 water bottles
2 beer cans
assorted plastic bags
the rings from a six pack
We watch as children
We learn what's okay
I learned not to do that
I know others didn't
but their indifference to beauty,
to the natural world
grieves me
And this is but a tiny consequence
of that indifference

Friday, October 20, 2017

Three things that make living spaciously easier for me

This year, my major intention has been to live my life more spaciously and use peace of mind as a filter for my decisions. When I do this, my life is so much better and when I don't, it isn't so great so I know that I'm on to something Here are three things that help me do that.

Do one thing at a time. When I write blog posts, that's what I do. When I do paid work, I do paid work. When I read for fun, I just read. No email, no Facebook. I might get up to stretch and get some water, but I take an intentional break and say no to the interruption of distractions and the myth of multi-tasking. 

Don't do any one thing for too long a time.  While it's great when I get absorbed in my work, it's not so great when I finally get up from the desk. So I set my phone alarm for 20 minutes whatever activity I'm involved in and do something quite different. In fact, I keep a list of computer-related tasks and a list of more physical activities so that I can balance screen time with doing the dishes or unclogging the bathroom sink.

Don't substitute just anything when what we want is something specific. I've put myself in some stressful situations lately because I've accepted invitations that I felt lukewarm about. I knew what I wanted--some time with a couple of close friends--but they weren't available and so I said yes to some other possibilities. However, they weren't what I wanted and while, like most of us, I know how to make the best of a situation, I don't want to do that if I can avoid it. It reminds me a lot of my active food addition days when I'd eat something sweet I didn't like (dark chocolate or raisins, for example) when what I really wanted was caramels or ice cream. Life's too short to settle.

When I practice these ideas, my life is more spacious. What makes your life more spacious?

Sunday, October 15, 2017

A Movie Review as Poem

I'd been told to go
Do it big screen
--You won't be sorry
And I wasn't
Two hours
emotional roller coaster
I was drowning
in a sinking ship
being strafed and bombed
on the open stretches
of beach
outswimming an oil fire
on the waves
Flying on the shoulder
of the Spitfire pilot
As he used up his fuel
to protect and serve
I lived the terror

for two hours
What a movie should be

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Challenge of Staying Awake to the World

The news gets worse and worse. Natural disasters exacerbated by our choices and those thrust upon us by the greedy and powerful. A rampant culture of violence against others by those in despair and rage. Polluted water and air. The stupidity of teenagers with fireworks who set off a widespread chain reaction of destruction and death in a nearby forest. If I let myself get overwhelmed by all this, a few dozen drinks or a few gallons of ice cream seem pretty tempting.

It didn't take me long in sobriety and abstinence to figure out that the challenge wasn't in giving up the drink or the food, it was being willing to stay awake and to do it all the time. To be present to what is going on in my life and in my world. To keep my eyes open and my heart open too. If I did that, I would see the astounding beauty of the world and the equally enormous suffering. And I would need to learn to do what I could and sit with the rest.

These days I'm finding this challenging. I want to numb myself into a sugar-induced nap for the afternoon. I want to watch mindless TV on an overly full stomach. I want a drink. I won't do that. I know only too well where it leads, but I want it to all go away for a while. Las Vegas. Houston. Florida. Puerto Rico. Eagle Creek and the Gorge. Feeling a lot of sadness today. 

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Poem for my friend Brian

Sitting in the dark with strangers
the bright glow
of a hundred candles
warming the space
that separates us
in a circle
that binds us

Words, tears, revelations
as the high holy days begin
in a religion not my own

We asked for what we needed
forgave each other
for what we could
no longer carry
Accepted our truth,
our responsibility
for this life
for this world
Invoked the names
and the nameless
of those gone before us

I opened myself up
to belonging
Ritual helps me do so
and I forget that I need that
in this life
in this world