31 October 2011

The Pace of Nature

I am blessed with great, kind, generous friends.  Some of these people, I met on my own, through college, work, or simply living life.   Others, through my best friend, my husband.  This past weekend, we had the pleasure of spending time with some of those friends, two of our best friends, at a house on a lake in central Oregon.  

We had an unexpectedly glorious day, and took a leisurely drive to the house, stopping for lunch and then, even though we thought about just sitting and taking in the afternoon on the deck, walking over to the lake.

Walking to the lake sounds very romantic and picturesque.  And it was, at times...  But the lake is man made, and most of our walk consisted of walking along the muddy lake bottom, now that the water is down.  It got a little slippery, and sticky, and gloppy, but we made our way down about a mile or so and back, and by the time we were walking on the road back to the house, the sun was bright and the sky and the evening ahead felt big and welcoming.  

After our gloppy, slippery walk, we had a great night, playing games, eating wonderful food from my new cookbook, and talking about life and our lives.  And laughing.

Life isn't always perfect, but when I feel connected to someone else, when I feel able to love them and be loved, everything else falls away, and there is peace and hope and the next moment to live.  

Life, especially this modern life, feels to me to be so full of reasons to be upset, afraid, or hurt.  But, most of the time, when we feel afraid, isn't it really because we are disconnected from ourselves and our own truth?  Seeking that truth is a constant work, but isn't that seeking what creates the life worth living?

When we don't give up on seeking within ourselves, we are more likely to find others who are living real lives, and to connect with them.  And to have those wonderful evenings, weekends, talks, and walks.  May your week be filled with hope and connection, and love.

*Quotes by Ralph Waldo Emerson

27 October 2011

Honeymoon Cabin

I have something special of mine to share today, and it comes with, as with all things worth sharing, a bit of a story.

There are people who come into your life and then are a part of it from then on, like streams flowing into a river that flows into the sea.  And there are things like that too, at least for me. The little book you see above is actually both.

When I was single and living in Seattle, in the throes of my quarter-century ordeals, I used to wander around junk shops to pass the time on lonely Saturday afternoons (pass the time? having time? what was that like?). It was a comfort activity, something I often did with my family growing up, an activity that felt sure.  I feel confident that in a junk store - as long as it is not too junky - I will find a treasure, a moment of beauty.  Maybe I'll buy it, maybe not, but I almost always see something interesting, full of history and time.

I imagine that on the day I found this little photo book, it was raining, and I was in Ballard, a neighborhood in Seattle, roaming around with my heart in my stomach, berating myself for not doing the right things, for not knowing who I was.  Oh, those were the days.

But on this particular day, I found something unexpected. Along with something beautiful to look at and touch, I found two new people, and they have been with me ever since.

It would be kind of strange to call them 'friends,' but that's what they feel like. I found their beautiful love book in a drawer full of old postcards. I bought it for $5 and felt like a thief.

The book is a love story, seeming to have been made by him and given to her.  It tells the story of two people who were in love for a long time, and then finally able to be together, and how glad this made them both. You can see in each picture how they delighted in each other, how much fun they had together; the photos show the timelessness of true connection.

I don't know their names or where they lived, but their little book has traveled with me through many moves and life changes. I bring it out sometimes when we have people over, when the night has reached a time for sharing.

K. and I look at the book and wonder "Where are they in this photo?", "Who do you think that is?"  He said the other day that it was too bad that they didn't write down more details about the photos, but I think that just adds to the mystery.   Besides, they didn't need to, because when it was made, the only people who mattered already knew.

Their story has inspired me over the years many times.   I see in them the love, friendship, and constancy I now know to be a part of long-term togetherness.  I hope that their extended courtship led to a long, happy life together.  Little did they know that their memento would add so much to someone else's life.  I hope you enjoy it, too.

25 October 2011

{5 Questions} How Do You Create?

How do you create? If your answer is, "I don't," then this is a great time to ask yourself a few pointed questions about that fact. (I bet you're wrong.) Creating is essential to a happy, authentic life, and it's for everyone, the more the better.

1. Do you think "being creative" is just for those few "creative people"?

In this context, I am talking about everything from painting to creating an experience that can be as simple as taking a walk around your neighborhood.

2. Do you think being creative means painting or drawing?

Creativity is everywhere we look, and can include so many things. It's really about whatever makes you feel alive.

3. Have you looked around your everyday life to find ways to create?

How about cooking a meal, arranging flowers, creating a cozy space in your bedroom, gardening, planning a trip?

4. What are the things that get in the way of being creative?

How might your routine be getting in the way of creating or allowing new things into your life?

5. Do you often give up when something "doesn't work"?

Let being creative be about feeding your heart, doing something that simply feels free, alive, and spontaneous in the moment.

I hope these questions give you something to wonder about today, and that your creative juices start flowing! If you lean towards a certain medium, take a class, buy a drawing pad, doodle, write, read a cookbook, wander through a bookstore, allow your imagination some room to stretch and play. Go find your inspiration!

22 October 2011


Fall is striking. Spring brings relief and joy; summer, relaxation, but Fall stuns with the beauty of death and the completion of the cycle. Fall stirs in me both melancholy and an intense gratitude for the experience of being alive. There is a kind of urgency as each silvery Fall day glitters like a melting jewel. I take deep breaths and do my best to simply accept each day as it comes, rejoice in its beauty, let it go.

I recently went for a weekday afternoon walk in my neighborhood. This is a rare thing, as I am usually downtown working at the office during the week. But on this day, I was home, so I was lucky to have the chance to go walking, armed with a light canvas bag for collecting leaves.

When I was a freshman in college, as the first Clinton election approached, I went crazy for leaves (and flannel and big, baggy Levi 501's). My new best friend and I would gather armfuls and take them to the student union, to people's apartments, to the long wooden table at the sorority house we would both leave the next year.

I went to college in Northern Idaho, and on that beautiful Moscow campus there are many many towering oaks and maples, so there were always lots of leaves to be found. This friend of mine was also into puns, so for many weeks I received notes written in purple pen that said "I leaf you" or "Don't leaf me." As many at that age are, we were quite infatuated with our own cleverness.

I thought then that we would be forever friends, but it wasn't to be, and that close, clever friendship turned out to be fleeting. Really, we both changed, and thus went, in different ways. The next Fall, she was in Sweden on exchange. We both made new friends, fell in love, changed. We wrote almost daily emails for that whole year and nothing indicated that it would be the last year of our closeness, in fact, the opposite. The messages were long, detailed missives about everything that was happening for each of us. But the next year, when she returned, everything was different.

Sometimes friendships recover, sometimes they don't. We both made our efforts at different times, trying to honor the two years, one real, one virtual, that we had been so close, but it never came back together.

Now when the leaves fall, I think of her, and of being so young, so full of ideas and thoughts and self-importance, and of rejoicing in the season of death and return when my existence felt eternal.

On my walk the other day I filled my bag with leaves for another old friend, who lives where there is no Fall, and who I missed seeing this year, and have missed too many times. I pressed them and sent them to her with a card, to tell her that I'm glad we're friends, that she is special to me. Because Fall is a time for planting, too.

21 October 2011

Beautiful Things (2)

Well, it's Friday afternoon and I am about to head home from the office. K is getting a haircut and I am tidying up and getting ready to put another week away. I leave today feeling truly satisfied with my work this week.  And, something quite interesting happened to me just the other day, something unexpected...:

I felt so good about a session I had with a client that I did a fist pump in my office after they left!  That, for me, is a first.

Indeed, I really haven't done many fist pumps in my time; it's not common.  I think that the last time I did a such an inspired fist pump was when Once, a wee independent Irish film, had just won the Oscar for best song. (K. was very entertained by the sight of me leaping off the couch and shouting "yes!") See it if you haven't already.  Which reminds me... I wanted to share a beautiful thing with you today, a wedding website from Ireland with gorgeous, lush, photography and quite a sweetness.

The photo makes me want to take my sweets and row in a boat to a island off the coast of the emerald isle, wear a big sweater, cozy into a rustic cabin with some tea and a biscuit (and butter), find a local pub, wile the night away surrounded by the sound of fiddles and brogue.  I have a soft spot for Ireland.  Some of my people came from there a long time ago, and there is just something about the place itself, mystical, magical, filled with sadness and redemption, green.  If you like movies, another great Irish one is The Secret of Roan Inish.

But for now it is time to cozy-in in my home, in one of the emerald isle's of the U.S.; time to enjoy the weekend, get a few things done, cook, play.

May you have a serendipitous weekend, filled with inspiration, adventure, and hopefully more than a little bit of mother nature, whatever that is for you.

{Photo from its site of origin, Style Serendipity}

19 October 2011

New Look for In This World

If you have visited my blog before, you may have noticed that today it has a new look, especially at the top. If you've visited it multiple times over the past 4 years, you may have noticed new looks here and there, but I hope you'll find this one to be a little more special.

The photo (yes, that's me) was taken two years ago when K. and I were on a weekend trip to Eastern Oregon. After an extremely wet and rainy Spring, we decided to head east in an effort to find sun and some blue sky.

Though we were not entirely successful at evading the rain (especially at our campsite), we had a great weekend in what turned to be out a very unique season. The very wet Spring we were trying to escape had turned Eastern Oregon into a lush paradise. Wildflowers and grasses were in rare form, and we later heard that longtime residents were discovering blooms that they had never seen before. In our hikes around the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument (several different sites in the area), we experienced gorgeous skies, unique and precious flowers and birdsong, and a true feeling for a region we had only ever before driven through, not to.

I chose the photo you see in the header because it captures the feeling I most hope to convey, and inspire you to find, as you read In This World: the wonder and freedom that come with new vistas and unexpected glories.

I'd love to know your impressions of the new look if you have a moment! Thanks, as always, for reading, and I hope you are having a lovely, golden, Fall.

17 October 2011

Ruby the Cat

Do you have a pet? A cat, perhaps?  Then we might have something in common, because I love my cat...  And since I'm feeling particularly appreciative of her today, I thought I would introduce her to you.  This, dear reader, is Ruby:

Ruby is 13 going on 14 and fit as a fiddle, a very soft pudgy fiddle.  I actually never thought I would have a cat.  Growing up, my family was not just a dog family, but an Irish Setter family. [I will have one of my own someday, but I'm not quite ready to impose that on Ruby!] I ended up with Ruby when a friend's cat had kittens.  She loved cats and convinced me that not only did I need a cat, but that I should have this particular cat, that she was special.  She was right on both accounts.

Now I'm always sad when people say they are not cat-people.  I used to be one of you and I think you should reconsider.  Saying that you are not a cat-person is like saying that you are not a love-person.  I loved my dogs, but the kind of love you get from a kitty is different.  It's quiet. Satisfied. So sweet. It makes your heart all melty and warm.

You might be wondering about where her name came from.  Believe it or not, people were not naming children Ruby in 1998!  I had had Ruby for about a week and was trying and trying to name her.  One evening, I suddenly remembered a dream from years ago where I had a black and white kitten and her name was Ruby.  That did it. 

Kids love Ruby, she is a celebrity among the little ones in our life.  She's gotten pretty good at dealing with them, and I have taught them how to put their little hands behind their back while they lean forward to let her give them a hello sniff.  This seems to put everyone at ease.  Inevitably, she does not stay around too long when the under-5 crowd is present, but she always says hi.

When I got Ruby as a kitten, I wasn't that much more than one myself.  Not that I felt young at the time, no 23 seemed quite old.  But it isn't at all, as those of on the other side of 30 know.

Ruby helped me so much in those years.  She taught me about stillness, exploring the unknown, and about unconditional cuddles and love and just being.  She is still teaching me these lessons, as she perches on my lap while I'm plugged in to my laptop, waiting for me to give her a little facetime, a scratch on the head, a tickle under the chin.

Having something or someone to love is so important.  It can be hard sometimes, but it is so important to health and happiness.  When I was in a very dark place in my life, Ruby was that being, and I'm glad to give her a lifetime of warmth, good food, and soft laps in return.  It's really no sacrifice at all.

06 October 2011

Golden Work

Listening all day, is that what I do?

I am often asked that question.  Some who ask seem to think that it would be a very easy or simple thing to do; others, the most difficult.  I find that they are both right.

Really, as I sit in my chair and listen, I am first seeking being.  There is not much to do until I find that.  But, I find being by listening to myself, so the work is, in a way, all about listening.  And the work is life itself...

As we enter into Fall, surely as the leaves begin to turn orange and red and yellow, the work in my office changes course.  Summer offers a certain respite from the usual concerns and stresses of life.  Even though one's life may not be truly different, and in some cases even have become a bit more hectic during the summertime, we all somehow seem to give ourselves a break.   To be honest, I'm glad for it, too.

In Summer, sessions are often more conversational, filled with updates and thoughts about what is going to come when the season changes and life gets serious again.  We are often meeting again after a break due to vacations and activities; we catch up, are glad to see each other again, process what has been at work during the break.

Now, as sure as the sky today is gray and the air chilled, I can feel the momentum changing.  New people are entering my practice, ready to work.  People I have worked with for a long time are getting ready for the change that comes with the season.  Last night, I had my first session of the year end after it had become dark.  People are beginning to use that ominous phrase "...and then the holidays are coming..." 

Fall is definitely a time for movement and work.  Is that why so many of us love it so much? Do you?

How do you take hold of it?  This opportunity to take the energy gained over the golden summer and put it into something you want or need, yearn or long for?

What is your work this Fall?  How do you take advantage of the movement of letting go?  How are you taking the bright energy of summer and transforming it into your own personal harvest?
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