Free Stuff

December 27, 2009

All that is really useful to us can be bought for little money; it is only the superfluous that is put up for sale at a high price. All that is really beautiful…is offered us as a gift by the immortal gods. We are allowed to watch the sun rise and set, the clouds sailing along in the sky, the forests and the fields, the glorious sea, all without spending a penny. The birds sing to us for nothing, the wild flowers we may pick as we are walking along by the roadside. There is no entrance fee to the starlit hall of the Night. ~Axel Munthe

We have just come through a season of gift-giving, of consumption, of overextension for some that will cause unease in future. I wonder if we might have more meaningful holidays if we paid more attention to the simple joys of living, and less to the shopping, wrapping, and fretting about who gets what.

Sam and I stood on the deck last night and watched the sunset, brilliant fiery orange behind bare tree limbs in the West, and pastel pink streaked across a gorgeous grey-blue sky in the East. This was definitely a highlight of the holiday for me, in addition to the relaxing time off for quiet and reflection. I am grateful for these gifts.

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Soul Time

October 24, 2009

maple leaves
This is one of the best daily meditations. Sit and allow action directives to come from the Greater Intelligence and bring them into your own lives. To maintain your own inner health, you need to become stewards of your own time.

While you have to work and earn a living and need to interact with the engine that drives commodity time, don’t take up your residence in that pressure tank.

Your home and soul time is organic, regulated by heartbeat, breath, sun, moon, the seasons, and the tides.~Zalman M. Schachter-Shalomi, “Take This to Heart”(Graduation Address at the Naropa University, May 8, 2004), in Living the Questions: Essays Inspired by the Work and Life of Parker J. Palmer (Sam M. Intrator, ed.)

How many of us are even aware of our heartbeats, our breath, the sun, moon, seasons and tides? This morning I am feasting my eyes on the brilliant gold-orange maple outside my window, struck by sun rays, aflame. Sometimes these things just rise up and demand our attention. But I want to notice even the subtle shifts. To learn to be a steward of soul time. How about you?


Happiness and Belonging

August 10, 2009

Yahoola Valley 2
Look deep, deep, deep into nature, and then you will understand everything. ~Albert Einstein

Nature is not a place to visit. It is home. ~Gary Snyder

It is becoming clearer to me that happiness is a subtractive, rather than an additive, process. What I mean by that is that it is our natural state, but it is layered over with oh-so-much stuff that interferes. Letting go and discarding those things that don’t serve us is our task–not striving to find something we don’t already have. We are an integral part of the universe, of nature; we belong here (because we are here, after all), yet we persist in struggling to feel belonging. At least that’s my theology at the moment.

I am so fortunate to live in a gorgeous place. But when I am unhappy, focused on all that “stuff,” it goes unnoticed. May I recognize that I vibrate with all of nature, and feel that connection in my bones.

Sophia once said to me, “You should feel adored.” We should all feel adored as we bask in our natural homes. We are part of something much greater, but it would be different without us.

I am a thread in the fabric of existence.
No one would miss one tiny thread,
except that it holds the whole thing together.
Who knows the extent of unraveling
once it begins?


Living Creatively: 10 Ideas

December 9, 2008

I embrace emerging experience.
I participate in discovery.
I am a butterfly.
I am not a butterfly collector.
I want the experience of the butterfly.

~William Stafford

Recently I stayed overnight at Pat’s apartment, and was inspired by her creative spirit, the art on her walls, and her projects in progress. Then I saw this post on Creativity Portal–Deanne Fitzpatrick’s 101 Ideas for Living Creatively. I decided to come up with some of my own ideas for living more of an artist’s life.

1. Write or draw in a new place–in a coffeehouse, in nature, in the kitchen, at the library.
2. Find something around the house to alter or decorate and recycle as a gift.
3. Think of a game I loved as a child and play it.
4. Surprise someone who needs a lift–with a handmade card, a homemade treat, or just an act of kindness.
5. Just say no to computer games, and blog or write a poem instead.
6. Walk somewhere instead of driving. Notice the smallest things I can see along the way.
7. Carry a writer’s notebook at all times, and capture ideas, images, overheard conversations, anything that sparks my imagination.
8. Tune in to the natural world for a while with my senses. Watch birds, smell the earth, sit on the grass, listen to a flowing stream, sway in the breeze, bask in the sunshine.
9. Give myself a gift–a nap, yoga, a massage, or whatever my body needs at the moment. See what images come to me when I am nurtured and relaxed.
10. Ask a “what if” question about everything that comes my way for a day.

What helps you stay connected to your creative spirit?


Change of Habit

February 11, 2008

“Yep, son, we have met the enemy, and he is us.”  ~Pogo

[Here I had copied the Pogo comic strip/Earth Day poster, 1971, from Wikipedia-see it here.]

I have just returned from three days at the Okefenokee Swamp, home of the beloved Pogo. Alligators basked in their muddy depressions on the peat “blow-ups”, great egrets and white ibises sailed over the cypress trees, and a tannin-colored wake followed our tour boat on Billy’s Lake. The Swamp is a National Wildlife Refuge now, but a logging company stripped most of the oldest cypress growth in the early 1900s.

Yet life abounds in this swamp, and I was reminded of the restorative properties of being outdoors. So why did I spend so many hours indoors in our cabin–knitting, playing Rummikub, and sitting with friends? Because part of my objective was rest and change of habit, taking a break from the usual. That I did. Now I want to find the entire run of “Pogo” and read it as an adult! 🙂