Tuesday, January 26, 2016

We'll leave the light on

Watching loved ones go through hard times, I'm deeply struck by the small kindnesses offered to each other.  It's much easier to grouse or strike out, so when we don't during times of pain, it's a thing of beauty. Bone weary, heart sick people taking an extra minute to put out towels, wash up sheets, leave the light on.  Cook or bring over something hearty and soothing to help feed the extras.  When defenses are down, we make easy targets, and we often forget the simple pleases and thank you's, or even where we left our coat.  Offenses are easily taken and given.  And there are always old hurts to poke if your anger needs venting.

When there's not all that much light to muster, leaving it on for sisters and brothers, making sure to offer simple comforts and kind smiles are the sure signs of good raisin' - humble true hearts full of love. And sure enough, the lady we are all grieving, who struggles to keep her eyes open when she speaks and is so uncomfortable when you ask after her welfare can only answer "I don't know". She unfailingly says "Thank you" for the ice chips and "please" when she needs help.  "Oh, that's good". She still asks about your dog and the swim meet.  And she never fails to say, "Be careful.  I love you." when we take our leave.  Such small things that demonstrate such great character and love. She may look like a frail little bird in that hospital bed, but she is so mighty and full of light - even when her eyes are closed.  She has done right by the world giving us so many lovely, kind humans who would never fail to leave the light on for 'ya.  Who could have more success than that in life or death?

Tuesday, January 19, 2016


Being impressed, surprised, delighted, grateful is a habit of thinking I practice every day.  I try to bring that perspective to all my experience.  Staying tuned in to now and noticing what I see with gratitude and kindness creates. All perspective creates.  It's just that being grateful and feeling loving kindness are so much more fun than being underwhelmed and feeling bored or bitter and resentful. Staying present to now, to all your senses, wide open - is my intention and choice. Cultivating that kind of attention does take effort and practice.  We all know people who only want the "unvarnished" truth and believe it can't be true if it is not unpleasant.  That viewpoint is a practice, a choice and a habit of thinking, too.  It is certainly no more or less true than other perspectives.  Seeing the colors and texture of the aged and unvarnished ceiling of this old, abandoned railroad car, enjoying the beauty of it's story just as it is right there, while also knowing it was once lovely in a different, more varnished way.  That's fun.  That is as true as viewing it as a sad testament to human frailty, a symbol of death and decay.  The lens we use is our choice and we get the consequent feeling from those judgements.  That railroad car doesn't care what you see.  It may seem foolish in the face of a world of suffering to be grateful and determined to see beauty in unlikely spots.  It can be called pretend, putting lipstick on a pig.  To me, it's what being human is all about.  Every thought and perspective and experience creates.  If adding a little color helps you see in a new way, bring on the lipstick.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

In There

Mean as a skillet full of rattle snakes.  
Tough as a pine knot.  
Pepper in the gumbo.  
Facing up to difficulty takes some steel.  
And some whimsy.  
And some compassion.  
And some humor.  
A little bit of everything.  
Then you keep digging for whatever else you need after that.  
It's in there.  

Monday, January 11, 2016

Little bit crazy

If I'm blessing your heart, it might be that your crazy is showing and you might want to tuck that back in a little bit.  Nothing wrong with assertive.  Nothing wrong with a little hissy fit or a big giant pity party, either, as long as you're prepared to apologize if it turns out it was your crazy showing instead of the other guy's.  Sometimes crazy sneaks up on the most polite and restrained, the most calm and composed.  Living out loud, right now, owning what is going on inside you can be tough.  Sometimes I don't know what's in my craw. Or even if I do, it may still come out a little sideways.  That can be tough on me and my loved ones.  But there are times when, being the messy critter I am, it either comes out or sits in there and festers.  What I resist, persists.  So, as well intentioned as I am, and as open as I am to what is going on inside myself, I still could be blessing your heart for no good reason and not even know it for a few hours - or even days.

Having operated this equipment for a while now, and being kind, gentle and fair - really, not kidding - I usually know when things start to tilt, and I tell my loved ones that it's coming as soon as I feel it.  I often apologize in advance because I don't know what will set me off nor how it will splat on someone, only that it probably will - sooner rather than later.  It's not what I plan to do, not what I wish for, and it is what it means to be human.  Sometimes things get messy.  So long as I own up, explain as well as I can, apologize, grovel a little and let it go, things usually work out.  I know the people who love me wish I could do better.  Head it off at the pass.  Be a little less enthusiastic in blessing their hearts.  I honestly do too.  Self correcting is important after you own up.  But so far - and I have been young for a long, long time, now, trying to self correct for quite a while - this seems to be the best I can do.  I can live with that.  Mostly, I keep the crazy tucked up just fine.  Sometimes it flaps in the wind.  It is what it is.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Big sky, old barn, empty field, some birds.  It's just being there. Doesn't care if you appreciate it or not. Thank you, Three Ravens Graphics, for this capture.   My plan is to appreciate with everything I've got today.  There's beautiful stuff out smack in the middle of nowhere when nobody is doing much of anything and it isn't even snowing, for cripe sake.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Some poetry and flash fiction for you.  <3



Vivid is a word that most of us wouldn't apply to the prairie in wintertime.  Colors tend to be monochromatic -except for a few birds, bright stars or blue sky - and even the light can be puny many days in a row.  Then darkness descends so early. Even on sunny, bright days, we tend to stay indoors because it's so cold.  It's easy to let the most vivid experiences be irritability and impatience or grief and hopelessness.  Especially during holiday times, our sadness can to be magnified because of the contrast with what we see in stores and in the media depicting lovely family gatherings or gorgeous, sunny get aways.  And sometimes, as in everybody's life, circumstances make it so that the most vivid experiences simply are just the dark or sad ones.  Grief tends to pin a person into now in the most unpleasant ways imaginable.  The absence of a loved one is loud and searing around the holidays.

It's a time when we need to adjust the angle on the viewer to wide.  We need to do our best to see the biggest possible version of the picture.  Then come to our senses with the intention of being fully present to now, with gratitude and kindness.  Notice our breathing until it slows and the out breath is longer than the in breath.  Feel our feet in our socks, the pressure of our weight on whatever surface we are sitting or standing.  Our skin inside our clothes.  The smells in the room, the color of the light.  The set of our jaw, where our tongue rests, which muscles are tight.  Loosen them.  Breathe.  Then staying with the awareness of now, opening to acceptance of our feelings without resistance or judgement - only kindness and gratitude that we have breath and pulse and sensation.  It's easier to release sadness or anger if we embrace it with loving kindness.  The next right thing after that is to be in our lives with knowledge and acceptance of what is, living as vividly as we are able.

Usually in the midst of vivid, intense emotion, it's hard not to be mindful, but it's also hard not to resist and judge.  Grief about lost love doesn't pass, it comes in waves that wash over and through us, then it recedes. The waves never stop. Just some days are stormier than others.  But loving kindness, gratitude that we have a pulse and breath on this living, gorgeous blue planet for this brief time, and a commitment to live those breaths vividly, in spite of missing someone, or even because of it. That's as good as we can do.

Friday, January 1, 2016

May this new year be as beautiful a beginning for you as this crisp winter dawn.  I hope to use my 2016 to come fully to my senses.  I wish the same for you.