Sunday, July 31, 2011

Beyond mere words

During a visit to Maryland in May, I spent time with my dear mother at Brighton Gardens, where she has lived since mid-December after nearly 40 years in her much-loved home on Windstream Drive. One afternoon, I took her husband, Andy, along with me, and we sat for a few moments in Mom's room. Andy lowered himself with great care into this familiar chair, leaned forward to engage the casters, and rolled up to his wife's side for some conversation. Though Mom rarely accesses verbal language these days, her ability to engage is stronger than ever. Here, she reaches in, resting both hands on her beloved's knees, and offers attentive eye contact as he speaks about his health: a moment of intimate grace at its best.

Friday, July 29, 2011


I spent a few glorious days in sunny Ashland this week, relaxing with cousin Faith in her beautiful home and learning more about the community that loves and sustains her. We had plenty of time for quiet conversation, just us two, and we savored every minute of it. I fell into a routine with her dear dog, Gracie, who dutifully slept at my side each night and delighted in my willingness to take her for early morning walks. As Faith slept, I used the peaceful mornings to read and putter, cleaning the fridge and pantry and fussing over the houseplants.

Faith is currently taking a break from treatment for metastatic breast cancer. Our conversation covered broad terrain and I learned more about the isolation that she's experienced as she ponders next steps in the bold act of living. We talked about the risks involved in living an authentic life and facing the challenges of being honest with ourselves and others.

At midweek, Faith treated me to a wonderful evening of music under the stars at Britt, a lovely outdoor venue in historic Jacksonville. Serenaded by the versatile and magnetic kd lang, we relished in the full experience in the gracious company of Faith's dear friends. What a blessed gift it was to share this precious time together. Namaste, Faith.

Sunday, July 24, 2011


Several years ago, I had a student in my first grade classroom, Devion, whose birthday was July 24. When I mentioned we had the same birthday, he shot me a quizzical look. "I didn't see you that day!" I loved that he connected the news as though we were twins, somehow separated straight away before he even set eyes on me.

So here's the thing, Devion. On the exact same day as my birth, July 24, 1956, a few things took place that, apparently, I missed too. In New York City, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis performed their last comedy act together after a 10-year run. At Comiskey Park I, the Yankees took a staggering loss to the White Sox, 11-5. Meanwhile, in sleepy Harrisburg, PA, my mother gave birth to her 3rd child on a blistering hot Tuesday, after her water broke in a parking lot while running errands. It's all hearsay to me.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Upward facing gratitude

The practice of yoga is fundamentally an act of kindness toward oneself. As simple as that sounds, it is not something that comes naturally to most people. There are times when I am able to embrace the concept and apply it throughout my day, both on and off the mat, and I am grateful for those moments of self compassion. At other times I slip into a place of pushing or reaching that goes beyond what truly serves me. I'm learning to be grateful for those moments as well, as they remind me to soften and let go and achieve more by doing less.

The practice of self compassion, the ability to embrace the present moment, and the blessings found in opening my heart: these are the jewels I find in yoga.

Three's company

Our beloved animals: a source of unlimited joy. All's quiet on the western front.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Ordinary pleasures

I come from a long line of homebodies. Perhaps it's a reflection of the small town way of my youth, where folks stayed close to home and reached no further than the county line for the coveted state fair. My parents preferred short jaunts over extended travel and I've grown to prefer some middle ground.

Last night, after a playful 2-day excursion to eastern Washington, I shook off the car travel, climbed into bed with book in hand, and soon found myself surrounded by eight legs as our dogs jumped on board and settled in. I could hear my mother's voice from my teen years: "The best part of going away is coming home."

A blessed life, this.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Greetings from Soap Lake

There's a plan brewing to erect a 60-foot lava lamp in the quirky town of Soap Lake. The small town seems to have an equal number of boarded up businesses as those with OPEN signs in the window. The locals hope that the proposed lava lamp will attract folks passing through on their way to the Grand Coulee Dam.

Whatever comes of the grand plan, I just hope the lake itself remains clean and accessible. It's a quiet haven of water play at its best: no motor boats, just plain folk, many of Russian descent, wading into the alkaline waters to dig up the mineral-rich mud for their personal slathering pleasure. My kind of spa.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Reaching for the yogic form of worry

I can't locate Delilah this morning. Last night our dogs and the little barker next door made a major fuss when darkness arrived, and now my mind is in a twitter about our little cat and her whereabouts. Coyotes move through here year-round and it's a constant source of concern for cat owners.

Del, dear girl, wherever you are, peace be upon you.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Catch and Release

The call came last evening from the ferry line in Nanaimo: "We limited out both days!" Such a happy proclamation from my armchair fisherman.

Mika returned home from his whirlwind fishing excursion to Ucluelet, and, true to form, chopped several glistening coho into sensible portions, packaged them with care, and climbed into bed with the joyful anticipation of giving it all away. This morning, in better smelling clothes, off he went, cooler in hand, like a traveling salesman eager to share his wares. Lucky colleagues. Happy man.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

"May I offer you a beverage?"

Beverage and vehicle, two rather benign words in my everyday vocabulary, get met with a good-natured ribbing by my husband every time I use them. "Why can't you just say 'drink' or 'car'?" Well, those are different words, dear, and they don't quite cover the same territory.

He, on the other hand, is quite enamored with the stuffy word codicil, and uses it often to poke fun at rules, guidelines, or restrictive or binding documents. So today I reached for an old friend, my well-worn copy of Forrest Carter's 1976 classic, The Education of Little Tree, and found a measure of comfort in this colorful exchange between Little Tree and his beloved Granpa:

"I was learning five words a week out of the dictionary, and Granma would explain the meanings, then had me put the words in sentences. Sometimes Granpa would totally knock out words, saying I didn't have to use that word no more, which speeded me up considerable in the dictionary. Like the time I had got down to the word "abhor." Granpa had got way ahead of me on the trail, and I had been practicing a sentence with that word so I hollered to Granpa, "I abhor briers, yeller jackets and such."
Granpa stopped. "What did ye say?" he asked. "I said I abhor briers, yeller jackets and such." Granpa looked down at me so steady-hard that I commenced to feel uneasy about the whole thing. "What in hell," Granpa said, "Has whores got to do with briers and yeller jackets?" I told him I didn't have no way in the world of knowing, which I didn't, but the word was "abhor" and it meant that you couldn't hardly stand something. Granpa said, "Well why don't ye just say ye can't stand it instead of using 'abwhore'?" I said I couldn't figure that out myself but it was in the dictionary. Granpa got pretty worked up about it. He said the meddlesome son of a bitch that invented the dictionary ought to be taken out and shot.

Remind me the next time we meet to check the codicils regarding vehicles while you enjoy a beverage.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

In Confidence

One of the greatest privileges of my life is sharing experiences and conversations that are heart-centered. It is a simple yet profound act that requires a willingness to be present to oneself and to another. I am grateful for the ability to slow down, to quiet my mind, and to embrace these sacred moments. And I give thanks to God for the rich and bountiful blessing of relationships.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Testing the joints as well as the waters

Fish biting in BC waters? Father and son are grabbing some time to cast their lines in Ucluelet this weekend, both testing the post-surgical function of injured joints. Here's to stable wrists, flexible shoulders, shared joy, and biting fish. Bring it on!