Retirement

August 25, 2013

When I was young, I admired clever people. Now that I am old, I admire kind people. ~Abraham Heschel

I have been retired from my day-job for three years, but I have officially retired from the consulting business now. I expect to take down my business website by the end of this year. It’s curious to me that once again, I return to this blog to mark a passage.

Thankfully, I am engaged in volunteer pursuits that keep me busy (enough). I am contest chair for the fall contests sponsored by the Georgia Poetry Society, I am treasurer-elect for the local Literacy Coalition, and I am volunteering in the Unitarian Universalist Church office (as well as singing in the choir). Soon I will go to the John C. Campbell Folk School for a week-long writing workshop, which I hope will inspire me to resume my writing practice.

“Retire” sounds like “retread” to me. And there is something to that image: a whole new out-look, more traction (less dis-traction), getting a better grip on things, even when it’s raining. (And it’s certainly done a lot of that here this summer!)

Age brings the blessings of greater understanding and wider perspective. Even as the body is deteriorating, the soul is expanding. I am grateful for soul-expansion!


Both-And

August 18, 2012

Speak what you think now in hard words, and tomorrow speak what tomorrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said today. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

A few weeks ago, I created a post called “Leaving Librarianship,” and said I wanted to make space for something new in my life. Since then, I’ve gotten a job with a Georgia library system to facilitate their strategic planning process, and I’ve volunteered to help start a local Friends of the Library group! Apparently, I’m not really leaving librarianship, at least not yet. And I realize (again) that making space for something new needn’t be done at the exclusion of everything else. Instead of either-or, it can be both-and. The poem I wrote about this a while back is here.

Life is a spiral for sure. I circle back to the same themes again and again, each time at a slightly new level of understanding. What themes repeat themselves in your spiral of learning?


Leaving Librarianship

July 24, 2012

For nearly 30 years, I have been working as a public librarian. Even when I “retired” in 2010, it was to do consulting and teaching in the field. I have now come to a place in my life where I want to make a space for something new. I don’t know what that something is right now. There is a certain amount of angst associated with jumping off the path and into the void. Where will I land?

Below are some words I am drawn to at the moment. As one who is typically mad for closure, it is difficult to rest in uncertainty, to not pick a new path right away. The challenge is to remain receptive in order to hear my soul speak. I am grateful for the luxury of choices.

We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us. ~Joseph Campbell

The end of one turn of the spiral becomes the beginning of another…we are designed for possibility. ~Gabrielle Rico

There is only one success—to spend your life in your own way. ~Christopher Morley

Where there is a path it is someone else’s way. ~Joseph Campbell

Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive. ~Howard Thurman

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined. ~Henry David Thoreau

Trust yourself, then you will know how to live. ~Goethe


Busy Summer

June 2, 2011

Summer is here. Over 90-degree temperatures expected for several days! For me, it promises to be a busy time. Here are some of the things I have going on this summer. I hope to maintain equanimity in the midst of all this activity.

Teaching: I am co-teaching a class (with Kathleen de la Peña McCook) for Valdosta State University’s Master of Library and Information Science program. It is called “Community Building” and it’s all about how to build community through public libraries. I believe this is the future for public libraries if they are to stay relevant and essential. In this blog post, “What Is a Library(an)?” architect Philip O’Brien says that librarians at the 2011 ALIA Information Online Conference in Sydney, Australia, had this to say about the future of the library: “a physical space, complimented by online space, a place of connections; between people and information, and between people and community, a community gathering space, and a social, cultural and learning hub, where people can find information, or create their own information.”

Consulting: (1) I am working with Stephen Spohn of LYRASIS to help Wayne County (PA) Libraries with an exciting project called “Redesigning the Public Library: A New Model for a New World.” (2) I am continuing to help a local nonprofit, the Community Helping Place with their strategic planning effort. (3) And I am doing some library board training.

More teaching: In fall (in addition to another section of Community Building), I will be teaching a continuing education class for North Georgia College and State University, using Julia Cameron’s (The Artist’s Way) suggestions for creative clusters. So I am also tuning in to anything that I can use in that class. Any ideas for me?

Other: This is in addition to yoga three times a week, monthly poetry group meetings, and a fair amount of time spent playing Rummikub online!

How’s your summer shaping up? And what will you do for yourself that keeps you grounded?


Becoming Nobody

March 12, 2011

When I retired from my day job, I decided I wouldn’t do much marketing for my consulting business–partly because I no longer want to work full-time. So I have been content to let work flow in as it will, to observe what that looks like. Well…apparently the nature of consulting is feast or famine. After months with just a little (maybe enough) work, this week brought three new jobs, which means I’ll probably be much busier in the coming months. This unpredictability will take some getting used to, and I may have to say “no” at some point.

But I like having the ability to let life be whatever it is. Thoreau said of his time at Walden Pond: There were times when I could not afford to sacrifice the bloom of the present moment to any work, whether of head or hands. Sometimes, in a summer morning, having taken my accustomed bath, I sat in my sunny doorway from sunrise till noon, rapt in a reverie, amidst the pines and hickories and sumachs, in undisturbed solitude and stillness, while the birds sang around. I grew in those seasons like corn in the night, and they were far better than any work of the hands would have been. They were not time subtracted from my life, but so much over and above my usual allowance.

Ram Dass says, You spent the first half of your life becoming somebody. Now you can work on becoming nobody, which is really somebody. For when you become nobody, there is no tension, no pretense, no one trying to be anyone or anything. The natural state of the mind shines through unobstructed—and the natural state of the mind is pure love.

I think of my shifting focus on being, not doing, as a great gift. Note the present participle “shifting”–I have certainly not reached that state of unobstructed mind Ram Dass talks about! But I feel fortunate to have had so many teachers and opportunities that have helped me reach this moment of awareness. May you all have the gifts of time, teachers, and opportunity to become nobody.


Ease Up!

August 6, 2010

We are the strivingest people who have ever lived. We are ambitious, time-starved, competitive, distracted. We move at full velocity, yet constantly fear we are not doing enough. Though we live longer than any humans before us, our lives feel shorter, restless, breathless…Dear ones, EASE UP. Pump the brakes. Take a step back. Seriously. Take two steps back. Turn off all your electronics and surrender over all your aspirations and do absolutely nothing for a spell. I know, I know – we all need to save the world. But trust me: The world will still need saving tomorrow. In the meantime, you’re going to have a stroke soon (or cause a stroke in somebody else) if you don’t calm the hell down. So go take a walk. Or don’t. Consider actually exhaling. Find a body of water and float. Hit a tennis ball against a wall. Tell your colleagues that you’re off meditating (people take meditation seriously, so you’ll be absolved from guilt) and then actually, secretly, nap. My radical suggestion? Cease participation, if only for one day this year – if only to make sure that we don’t lose forever the rare and vanishing human talent of appreciating  ease. ~Elizabeth Gilbert*

Having recently retired from my “regular” job, I have been interested in my fluctuating attitudes toward work, discipline, and creating new routines for myself. Life just feels different nowadays–different than it did when I was working, different than I thought it would feel, and different on different days. Sometimes it’s blissful (These Days), sometimes it feels like I’m spiraling downward and only have the energy to nap, and some days I am pleasantly productive without a lot of striving.

Today, this hit me in a new way: I get to choose. I can decide moment to moment how or even if I want to be engaged. I can notice what feeds me, what depletes me. I can determine whether I have done enough work, played enough, paid enough attention to relationships, meditated enough, exercised enough, and been kind enough to myself! Meanwhile, I am trying to avoid attachment to the good days and aversion to the not-so-good, to just experience each day as it comes.

What do you think about Elizabeth Gilbert’s advice?

*The passage is reprinted from Seth Godin’s free e-book, What Matters Now. Get it here.


Dreamy Idleness

May 26, 2010

Good ideas must come welling up into you. Wait for them. They come from the dreamy idleness of children. ~Brenda Ueland (If You Want to Write, Graywolf Press, 2007)

This, from the woman who gave us the term “moodling.” See references here and here. Ah, dreamy idleness! I am winding down May’s work and trying to prepare myself for a June of moodling before I go back to work in July. I suspect ideas (maybe good ones, maybe poems) will come as Ueland suggests. But I am resolved to rest in the no-expectations mind state, to be merely receptive.

I feel privileged and grateful to have this space and time; it seems luxurious beyond measure. To breathe and pay attention to the breath. To walk and notice walking. To bask in sunshine and feel breezes and be mindful of my body in yoga. To slow down, for goodness’ sake!

What happens to you in dreamy idleness?


Godin On…Well, Everything

May 21, 2010

My definition of art contains three elements:

  1. Art is made by a human being.
  2. Art is created to have an impact, to change someone else.
  3. Art is a gift. You can sell the souvenir, the canvas, the recording… but the idea itself is free, and the generosity is a critical part of making art.

By my definition, most art has nothing to do with oil paint or marble. Art is what we we’re doing when we do our best work. ~Seth Godin

Seth Godin is one of the gurus of our time. He’s associated with marketing, but has much to say on other subjects as well. If the name isn’t familiar to you, be sure to check out his blog.

You can also get a free download of his compilation of wise words from many sources called What Matters Now. I likewhat Derek Sivers has to say about finding your true passion: “…just notice what excites you and what scares you on a small, moment-to-moment basis…You grow (and thrive!) by doing what excites you and scares you everyday, not by trying to find your passion.”

May you do your best work (your art) today, growing and thriving on what excites you and what scares you.


Hello Again!

May 3, 2010

Do you know that disease and death must needs overtake us, no matter what we are doing? What do you wish to be doing when it overtakes you? If you have anything better to be doing when you are so overtaken, get to work on that. ~Epictetus

I have missed writing. In the flurry of changing jobs, preparing for retirement, completing a demanding class, and taking a couple of short trips, I forgot what I want to be doing when I am overtaken. Luckily, Teresa has reminded me: It is writing! Or perhaps writing is the means to the end: living mindfully, being present for life.

So, today, I am grateful for readers. (I have missed you!) I am grateful for writers, especially the Paperwhite Writers and the Stonepile Writers. I am happy to be back at the keyboard.

Epictetus calls us to our important work on earth. What is it that you want to be doing?


Semi-Retired and Loving It

April 7, 2010

Devote six years to your work but in the seventh go into solitude or among strangers so that your friends, by remembering what you were, do not prevent you from being what you have become. ~Leo Szilard

Everyone should have a sabbatical every so often. I have been working practically non-stop since I graduated from college in 1975. It has been next to impossible to separate my self from my work. Yet in recent years, I have longed to be reacquainted with who I am outside of my vocation. Not that there are radical differences, just that work (as I engaged it) has taken vital energy, energy that I now crave for learning how to be (as opposed to do) in the world. Perhaps others are able to do both at once, but I have always found it difficult, as I chose a vocation about which I was truly passionate. My colleagues were my friends; my friends were my colleagues, for the most part.

And now I am working only half-time in preparation for retirement. There is time for rest, for reflection, for getting reacquainted with my soul.

I think the concept of sabbatical is brilliant. According to Wikipedia (could be true!), 20% of British companies have a career break policy. In the U. S., it seems that only academic and spiritual work environments offer sabbaticals. And those sabbaticals can feel like just more work. I believe enlightened workplaces could offer sabbaticals that give the employee great latitude for self-exploration, with few “products” expected. Life is process. Can businesses honor the process, the individual quest for self-understanding, spiritual enlightenment if you will, and still be profitable? I believe so. And certainly the social services should give inherently underpaid and overstressed employees a periodic break from their labors.

What do you think?


Doing Nothing

February 28, 2010

How beautiful it is to do nothing, and then rest afterwards. ~Spanish proverb

In one month, I will go from full-time to half-time work, and then to retirement status to do consulting only. Yet I have found myself approaching this with some degree of anxiety, already feeling behind! I haven’t completely mastered my new QuickBooks program, haven’t printed business cards, haven’t learned enough about social network marketing. For years, I have felt a need for a sustained period of rest. And here’s my opportunity, but I’m not sure I know how to do it!

I once attended a week-long retreat called “The Lost Art of Doing Nothing.” License to loaf. Perhaps I can think of my upcoming retirement in the same way. If consulting jobs come along in the first year, that’ll just give me something to keep the boredom at bay. A mental shift is required, I think. As always, more mindfulness and less projection about the future will be helpful.

After all, Merton says committing oneself to too much is a form of violence. What do you think?


More and Less

February 20, 2010

Fear less, hope more; eat less, chew more; whine less, breathe more; talk less, say more; love more, and all good things will be yours. ~Swedish proverb

Who could argue with that bit of wisdom? It got me thinking: What do I want less of? More of? Here’s my list. Hope you’ll share yours.

Eat less; move more.
Keep less; toss more.
Waste less time; write more.
Fret less; smile more.
Fear less; love more.
Sit less; walk more.
Acquire less; give more.
Look inward less; look outward more.
Work less; play more.
Ignore less; help more.
Complain less; express gratitude more.

What do YOU need less of? More of?


No Violence

February 14, 2010

To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything, is to succumb to violence. ~Thomas Merton

Retirement is on the near horizon for me. Yet last week I found myself anxious and with too many demands. True, I am taking a post-graduate class and starting a consulting business, but I lost sight of the fact that I can build the business at my own pace. I don’t have to write a proposal for the first interesting RFP that comes across my path! I said recently, “If only I had as much time and energy as I do enthusiasm.” I want to help everyone in everything, and it is a form of violence, as Merton asserts.

He also wrote, “There is a pervasive form of contemporary violence…[and that is] activism and overwork. The rush and pressure of modern life are a form, perhaps the most common form, of its innate violence.” It is mindfulness I need…yoga, meditation, or simply sitting still and noticing the gently swaying branches of the maple tree, the silently melting snow, the clouds drifting across the mountaintops, the quiet of the house in morning.

Today, I will cease doing violence to my psyche. I will set aside rush and pressure. I will love myself as well as my lover on this Valentine’s Day!

How do you manage many demands without succumbing to violence?


Writing for My Life

February 13, 2010

First, it is impossible that you have no creative gift. Second, the only way to make it live and increase is to use it. Third, you cannot be sure that it is not a great gift. ~Brenda Ueland (If You Want to Write, Graywolf Press, 2007)

Sparrow at the suet feeder,
Fluffed to twice his size for warmth.
Snow on the mountains gleams
in the morning sun, mounds on the ivy
outside my window. I am between
tasks, home from travels, homework
to be done. My life depends
on this small pause, this moment
of quiet snow and sparrows.


Movement

January 5, 2010

It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new. But there is…more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life and in change there is power. ~Alan Cohen

I have given notice at work, and will be leaving full-time employment at the end of March. I will work a couple of part-time months at a library system, then retire. This will give me more time to build and market my new consulting business, as well as attend to soul time.

If you’re interested in the growth and development of libraries and nonprofits, you can check out my Web site here and my business blog here. Go ahead–critique and comment!

During this period I will be vigilant about keeping my new business activity separate from salaried work time. Mindfulness will be especially important for me in the upcoming months, so that I am fully present in whichever sphere I am working. But I am starting to feel the energy and power of movement!

Will 2010 mean change in your life? What adventures await you?


Home Ground

December 13, 2009

In dwelling, live close to the ground. ~Tao Te Ching

In the end, the final refuge is sustained practice. ~Dogen Zenji

Perhaps I am learning how to practice at long last. I spent all of last week traveling to, sitting in, and traveling home from meetings. But unlike on most of my business trips, this time I ate well and I exercised. 🙂 Instead of being exhausted and depleted when I got home, I was energetic and relaxed.

What made the difference? I believe it was a combination of greater self-awareness and mindfulness, the ability to stay present in my experience moment to moment. More and more, I feel at home with myself, regardless of where I am, who I am with, what I am doing. More and more, I live close to the ground of my being.

How about you?


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?


Rebirth

June 21, 2009

…human beings are not born once and for all the day their mothers give birth to them…life obliges them over and over again to give birth to themselves. ~Gabriel Garcia Marquez

I’m not sure it would be possible to count all the rebirths in my life, but I am grateful for most of them at least. There is something wonderful about new chances to move closer to what you aspire to be. I am now in the process of birthing a consulting business, which I plan to nurture slowly until retirement and bring into fuller flower (to mix the metaphor!) once I have retired. I hope this will give me the opportunity to share with others the benefit of my experience and learning over the years of my career.

In any event, I will no doubt continue to pursue learning, as it is my passion! And when we are learning, a myriad of possibilities present themselves. I hope to be reborn again and again before I have to leave this world.

Take note of the rebirths in your life. Are you moving always closer to the person you wish to be in the world?


Plain, Common Work

May 26, 2009

The best things in life are nearest; breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of right just before you. Then do not grasp at the stars, but do life’s plain, common work as it comes, certain that daily duties and daily bread are the sweetest things in life. ~Robert Louis Stevenson

I can hardly believe it’s been 21 days since my last post. What happened? Busy-ness. Vacation at Fort Mountain State Park. The Evergreen (software) International Conference. Excitement about the idea of starting my own consulting business. Family caretaking. Not enough yoga. Out-of-town meetings. Business lunches (fortune cookie: “A bold and dashing adventure is in your future within the year.”). Blind Willie McTell Blues Festival. Too much Facebook. Lots of reading (Olive Kitteridge may take its place among my favorites.).

Daily duties, daily bread. Sweet.


Gifts

May 5, 2009

Career counselor John Crystal offers the best way I have found to remember our gifts: “Think about those things you have always found it easy to do and don’t remember learning how.” We tend to value the knowledge and skills we have worked hard to acquire; if we earned it from the sweat of our brow it must be important, or so we tell ourselves. But when aspects of work or life come easy, we think they must not be all that important. Crystal asks us to consider the reverse, that the “things we have always found it easy to do” might point us toward our gifts. ~Russ S. Moxley, “It Also Takes Courage to Lead,” in Living the Questions: Essays Inspired by the Work and Life of Parker J. Palmer

Hey, maybe it’s OK not to know too much about how to write poetry, huh? I remember being dumbfounded at a poetry workshop years ago when poet Kate Daniels said to me, “You have a gift. You should develop it.”

I like this reversal of the idea that only that which we slave over is important. I know that the best dancers/artists/writers/athletes/you-name-its are the ones who make it look effortless. And while I’m sure hard work is an important element for making it look so easy, I don’t think they could ever achieve that without natural talent, without flowing with their gifts.

What can you do easily that you don’t remember learning? Do you devalue it because there was no struggle involved? Perhaps it’s time to acknowledge and develop it as your gift.


Surrender

May 3, 2009

The goal of life is living in agreement with nature. ~Zeno

Here is one take on the idea of “surrender.” As the opposite of giving up one’s true nature or conforming, we can surrender to the truth of who we are and find our right place in the universe. I believe that is what we all long for. It is a theme I return to again and again: Csikszentmihalyi’s concept of Finding Flow; what David Whyte talks about in The Heart Aroused (The Soul at Work); and what Parker Palmer refers to as the integration of soul and role (An Undivided Life).

Surrender in this sense is not giving in, but giving up the illusion of control, letting go of the defenses we have built against our heart’s desires. Those defenses may stem from parental or societal expectations, fear of failure, fear of success, or myriad other things.

If you surrendered to your heart’s desire, what would you be doing? What would your life look like if you were in agreement with your true nature?


From the Archives: May

May 2, 2009

pen

Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go. ~E. L. Doctorow

Selected posts from last May:

Radical Acceptance
This is a transformative practice.

Life is Now
Tolle exhorts us to pay less attention to our life situations, and more attention to life itself.

Faults-Image
Do we place greater value on projecting a positive image or accepting reality (in which we are all flawed)?

The Soul at Work
….or, as Parker J. Palmer calls it, the integration of soul and role


Let Your Life Speak

March 29, 2009

Before you tell your life what you intend to do with it, listen for what it intends to do with you. Before you tell your life what truths and values you have decided to live up to, let your life tell you what truths you embody, what values you represent. ~Parker J. Palmer, Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation

Now I become myself.
It’s taken time, many years and places.
I have been dissolved and shaken,
Worn other people’s faces….

~May Sarton, “Now I Become Myself”

Palmer reminds us that the word vocation is rooted in the Latin for “voice.” He has come to understand vocation as a gift to be received, rather than a goal to be achieved. Watching his granddaughter during the early days of her life, he could see that she had inclinations, preferences, and her own personality from birth. He says, “We are disabused of original giftedness in the first half of our lives. Then–if we are awake, aware, and able to admit our loss–we spend the second half trying to recover and reclaim the gift we once possessed.”

And he says: As May Sarton reminds us, the pilgrimage toward true self will take ‘time, many years and places.’ The world needs people with the patience and the passion to make that pilgrimage not only for their own sake but also as a social and political act. The world still waits for the truth that will set us free–my truth, your truth, our truth–the truth that was seeded in the earth when each of us arrived here formed in the image of God. Cultivating that truth, I believe, is the authentic vocation of every human being.

And: Our deepest calling is to grow into our own authentic selfhood, whether or not it conforms to some image of who we ought to be. As we do so, we will not only find the joy that every human being seeks–we will also find our path of authentic service in the world. True vocation joins self and service, as Frederick Buechner asserts when he defines vocation as ‘the place where your deep gladness meets the world’s deep need.’

This small volume of essays from Palmer leads us through his choices about vocation, his depression and dark periods, and his ultimate realization that he is a teacher. He believes our shared vocation, leadership in the world of action, is an outgrowth of our inner journeys. We should support one another’s inner work by creating “communities of solitudes,” not abandoning or trying to fix each other.

More ideas from Parker J. Palmer here.


Generativity

February 9, 2009

Where there is a path it is someone else’s way. ~Joseph Campbell

We need not to be let alone. We need to be really bothered once in a while. How long is it since you were really bothered? About something important, about something real? ~Ray Bradbury

Like most of us I guess, I have followed a lot of worn and recommended paths, made fairly safe choices, and rested in the familiar throughout my life. In recent years, though, I have been bothered by the question concerning what my authentic path is. What is it that’s right for me, that allows me to contribute creatively to the world in a way that no one else can?

It is this exploration that is to be the excitement of my old age, I think. There’s nothing inherently wrong with worn paths, and I have learned a great deal by following them. They save us a lot of time and energy in a way. But I feel the urge now to blaze my own trail, to better understand my gifts and how to share them.

I don’t think this necessarily requires a dramatic change in what I do and how I live; it is more an internal shift in perspective. I expect only gradual changes in the ways I engage in the world, the activities I choose, the invitations I accept or decline, the work I do in retirement, and so on. (But who knows, really?)

And this is not just about creative self-expression (no–I promise–it’s not all about me!), but about generativity. As someone who did not raise children, I want to help future generations in the only way I believe I can–by living my authentic life, by sharing what is uniquely mine to give.

What is your authentic path, your unique contribution to the world? Are you bothered by the question?


Success

January 3, 2009

Don’t aim at success–the more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued, it must ensue…as the unintended side effect of one’s personal dedication to a course greater than oneself. ~Viktor Frankl

I was recently nominated for a national professional award. (Thanks, Kathleen & Wally!) I can’t imagine myself among the list of those who have received this award, so I have had a hard time getting my head around the idea. I’ve always been fairly suspicious of award winners, but maybe they’re as surprised as I by their nominations. Several people wrote eloquent letters of support for the nomination, which I admit will be inspiring to look back at on the “rainy” days of my life!

Whether or not I receive this award, I am heartened by the nominators’ efforts, and it makes me want to pay it forward by nominating someone else for something. Meanwhile, I’m trying to remember Einstein’s words, “The only way to escape the personal corruption of praise is to go on working.” (See also an earlier post, Judgment.)

May you all have those in your life who believe you’re worthy of an award! Who would you like to nominate or otherwise honor?

P. S. Now at the risk of looking like I am aiming at success (although I hope you’ll agree that aiming at this kind of success makes sense), I’m posting my CED & Power of Less updates for this week: blogged, named my stuffed puppy (Bodhi or Buddy depending on how wise he seems at the moment!), checked out a book on starting a writer’s group, made an “artist’s date” with a friend, committed publicly to 15-30 min. of yoga one day a week at work, did one 10-min. yoga session plus a yoga class! 🙂


The Heart’s Door

January 2, 2009

A basket full of bread sits on your head; yet you go from door to door begging for crusts. Attend to your own head. Knock on your heart’s door. ~Rumi

Today I want to swaddle my heart, protecting it from harm, and feel it beating through my whole body. But I also want to crack open the door and peek inside, get just a glimpse to help me on my way. Fear of opening that door has existed long past its usefulness!

The truth is, things have been leaking out for years…I just wasn’t sure where they were coming from. Perhaps that’s a gift of middle age, the capacity to become reacquainted with your own desires and passions, to claim them as your own.

My often-neglected passions include creative expression (but isn’t this true for everyone?), balance (think yoga, solitude vs. relationship, work-life balance), and learning. What would you find behind your heart’s door?


World Community

December 27, 2008

Today the planet is the only proper “in group.” Participate joyfully in the sorrows of the world. We cannot cure the world of sorrows, but we can choose to live in joy. ~Joseph Campbell*

The election results have had a significant effect on my outlook. I am almost tempted get that bumper sticker that says “Proud to Be An American.” But I won’t, because I don’t believe there’s any virtue in nationalism, as we are world citizens living on the earth interdependently.

Campbell’s words help me reconcile the enormous suffering in the world with our responsibility to live fully and joyfully. Carrying the weight of that suffering doesn’t help anyone. As Dorothy Day said, “No one has a right to sit down and feel hopeless. There is too much work to do.”

May we live more joyfully at the same time we open to the world’s suffering with our compassion. Awake and joyful living will show us the path to our right work for the welfare of all.

*Today’s quote comes from the Word for the Day at gratefulness.org.


Awareness

August 3, 2008

Do not look back in anger, or forward in fear, but around in awareness. ~James Thurber

Travels to coastal Georgia this week reminded me how much I love the slower pace one encounters away from the bustle of Atlanta. And that slower pace is so much more conducive to what Thurber calls looking around in awareness! I had lovely and real conversations with people outside the library as we waited for the doors to open. I felt more balanced, more at ease.

How can I slow down, become an eddy, inside the hectic pace of my commute/work/travel, the rapid swirl of activity that is the city? Remembering to breathe deeply is key, I think. Coming home, I found my chest tightening as I got closer to Atlanta on the freeway, and I noticed my breathing becoming more shallow. I read recently about one technique for “tending your own energy field“: visualizing light in the solar plexus, spreading and expanding to fill your whole body.

What helps you maintain your calm equilibrium when you are surrounded by frenetic activity? I want to practice looking around in awareness.


Do What You Love

July 24, 2008

Pursue the things you love doing, and do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off you. All other tangible rewards will come as a result. ~Maya Angelou

I love blogging! I am surprised by that, as it is not something I would have ever thought I would enjoy so much. I’m astonished that I have been writing here for almost a year. I’ve always known I loved words and writing, and all my writing came out as poetry until I found this medium. But I’ve discovered that I really like writing these short, personal essays and ruminations. As I said in the last post, writing pulls me along into the work I need to do, suggests new ways of looking at life, and helps me make sense of the world. Grace Paley said, “You write from what you know, but you write in what you don’t know.”

What do you love doing? If you can’t do it for a living, how can you do it as an avocation? Or what small bit of it can you integrate into your life right now?


Conformity

June 2, 2008

We forfeit three-fourths of ourselves, in order to be like other people.  ~Arthur Schopenhauer

My mother used to tell a story she found amusing. It was about coming to fetch me from school in the first grade. I was standing in front of the class when she arrived, pretending not to know my colors. I don’t remember this event, but this is one of the saddest stories I’ve ever heard.

For I had been happily reading at least since age 5, had known my colors for far longer, and was academically way ahead of most of my first-grade class when I began school. But I had been admonished so strongly not to “show off,” to be like others so I would be liked, that I had hidden my abilities in the quest for acceptance.

It was many years before I was aware of my conditioning, and many more before I could move beyond it. Even still, I find myself thinking, “How will this look to others?” when I decide on a course of action. This is actually a skill that has served me well in career and political situations, but I have had to come to an understanding about the limits on its value. And I have suffered from applying it in situations where it is not needed.

I think this explains why authenticity is so very important to me now. I cannot bear to pretend any longer that I am something I am not. I actually think age is helpful in this regard, as we who are in public service approach retirement and can be whoever we are. How do you deal with this dilemma, in a political world?


Clear Space

May 28, 2008

Present-moment awareness creates a gap not only in the stream of mind but also in the past-future continuum. Nothing truly new and creative can come into this world except through that gap, that clear space of infinite possibility.  ~Eckhart Tolle, from The Power of Now

Thinking about that clear space, ironically, as I prepare to return to work after a week-long vacation. But the space Tolle means is space we can have access to anytime. Ceasing our obsessive thinking, coming into the present, we understand that time and space are one, here and now.

This is good news. It means creativity is available to me virtually anytime, anywhere. I don’t have to have a special writing pen or desk, a lot of free time or extra energy, or even inspiration (especially not ideas!). I have only to stop, notice, be in the now. Surrender to life, to the moment. Tolle says, “No truly positive action can arise out of an unsurrendered state of consciousness.”

How do you experience creative moments? Do they come unbidden; do you arrange conditions to induce them? What if you surrendered to the gap, that clear space of infinite possibility?


The Soul at Work

May 26, 2008

Tell a wise person or else keep silent.  ~Goethe

Our deeper struggles are in effect our greatest spiritual and creative assets and the doors to whatever creativity we might possess. It seems to be a learned wisdom to share them with others only when they have the possibility of meeting them with some maturity.  ~David Whyte, inThe Heart Aroused: Poetry and the Preservation of the Soul in Corporate America

This post began as a follow-up to the previous post, a balancing admonition about trusting others to understand our truths. It was prompted by my rereading one of my favorite books, from which these quotes are taken. I originally read The Heart Aroused in its first edition (published in 1994), and when I decided to buy a copy, I was delighted to find that it was revised in 2002. Exploration and revelation of our most authentic selves is certainly risky in the traditional workplace. But in the end, this post is less about the risks of disclosure and more about the broader subject of the soul at work.

Whyte helps us reconcile the world of work, or doing, with the soul, or being. He characterizes this divide as “a veritable San Andreas Fault in the American psyche: the personality’s wish to have power over experience, to control all events and consequences, and the soul’s wish to have power through experience, no matter what that may be.” Whyte cautions that “with little understanding of the essential link between the soul life and the creative gifts of their employees, hardheaded businesses listening so carefully to their hardheaded consultants may go the way of the incredibly hardheaded dinosaurs.” I believe this book should be required reading for all managers and students of business management.

Thankfully, there are environments that encourage the messy soul work that employees long to do. I came from (and helped create) one of those places, imperfect as it was, and I have since grieved for the belonging I experienced there. Whyte holds that when we do not feel belonging, “no attempt to coerce enthusiasm or imagination from us can be sustained for long.”

Whyte takes his title from the famous William Carlos Williams poem “Asphodel, That Greeny Flower,” which poignantly reminds us that “It is difficult/to get the news from poems/yet men die miserably every day/for lack/of what is found there.” Using poetry, psychology and myth, Whyte encourages us to face our fears and claim our authentic soul power in the world of work.


Faults-Image

May 18, 2008

Always acknowledge a fault. This will throw those in authority off their guard and give you an opportunity to commit more. ~Mark Twain

While most believe it is desirable to present one’s best self to the world, I have always held that authenticity is more important than image. This has resulted in increasing discomfort for me over the years, working as I do (as most of us do) in a political environment. It seems that we have become a nation of image-makers, and that we have learned to value image above truth.

What has happened to the climate in which one could acknowledge (indeed, would be encouraged to acknowledge) faults, be forgiven for being human, and be allowed to model self-respecting honesty? Now we want to throw her (or him) off the island. This is hardly developmental progress!

Do you experience this tension between vulnerability and truth-telling? How do you handle it?


A Hand Up

April 25, 2008

What do we live for, if it is not to make life a little less difficult for each other?  ~George Eliot

I am writing less, working more, and handing power over to stress these days, in spite of the beautiful greening and flowering of spring. Stop. Breathe. Rest. Pay attention. I have to remind myself. It is easy to get far removed from creative impulse, to forget to listen to inner wisdom, in this world so full of distractions.

Last night my friends made me laugh in spite of myself. Eliot’s quote makes me think of a bad poem I once wrote with an ending something like: “Why would we be here/if not to offer a hand up/still reaching with the other?”

This evening, the indigo bunting is what takes my breath away.


Being Flow

April 11, 2008

You write from what you know, but you write in what you don’t know.  ~Grace Paley

When the painting is finished, the subject reveals itself.  ~William Baziotes

Writing (or any creative work) is discovery. That is why it is so frightening, so exhilirating, so compelling. This blog is my exercise in writing in what I don’t know. When the blog entry is finished, the subject reveals itself. I merely try to follow my mind and heart where they lead–first in choosing a quotation, then in my response to it.

This is good practice, I believe, for surrendering to life, for letting myself “be carried” by the universe, for loving what is. Perhaps writing will save my soul. I keep returning to Ray Bradbury’s advice from Zen in the Art of Writing: “WORK. RELAX. DON’T THINK.” There is so much wisdom in that simple exhortation. I am not sure how it could be more perfect.

William Stafford said, “Intention endangers creation.” May I approach my work with relaxation and a spirit of inquiry. May I surrender to the world with faith that I will be carried. May I set aside intention, will, and the illusion of control in order to be in the flow–no!–to be the flow–of all creation.


Clarity

April 10, 2008

If you do not express your own original ideas, if you do not listen to your own being, you will have betrayed yourself.  ~Rollo May

Note that May talks about expressing and also listening. How do I know my own original ideas without listening to my own being? My new word is clarity. Years ago it was acceptance, but now I need to know what my original ideas are. I need to sit and listen to the voice inside. There are things/ideas/yearnings that I return to again and again. I want to notice those things, but with stillness and openness, and without feeling an urgency to act.

I spent the first few decades of my life betraying myself; I don’t want to do it ever again. To live authentically requires clarity. I am on an edge, a cusp, the dawn of a new period of life, so grateful to have survived until now. Silvia says we won’t die until we have finished our work here. What is my work? What is this next phase supposed to be about?


Creative Work

April 5, 2008

If you hear a voice within you saying: You are no painter, then paint by all means, lad, and that voice will be silenced, but only by working.  ~Van Gogh

If someone thinks writers are crazy when they writing, he or she should see them when they’re not.  ~Hilda Downer

April is National Poetry Month, and I have subscribed to a Poem-A-Day during the month of April from the Academy of American Poets. I have hardly written any poetry in years, but I still yearn to do so. I am finding the Poem-A-Day a sort of lifeline to my creative self!

No writing, yet, mind you…but I feel that the stage is being set. Daily life has intruded for far too long. Too much busyness over the last few months–work, a heavy travel schedule, and two simultaneous post-graduate classes. But today, I am going to stop and see the mist hanging between the hills, the red-bellied woodpecker at the suet feeder, the graceful redbud branches heavy with blossoms. I am going to stop and hear the gentle rain, feel the cool, heavy air, and smell the cheerful hyacinths in their barrel.

Poetry is, after all, rooted in mindfulness. “No ideas but in things,” said William Carlos Williams. And saxifrage can split the rocks.


Purpose

March 17, 2008

A person’s life purpose is nothing more than to rediscover, through the detours of art, or love, or passionate work, those one or two images in the presence of which his heart first opened. ~Albert Camus

Can you say when your heart first opened? I think Camus is telling us we have to approach this discovery obliquely. But I do think he’s right about it being our life’s purpose.

So, how in the busyness of our “detours” do we stay alert for those “one or two images”?


Focus

March 16, 2008

All that we are is the result of what we have thought. ~Buddha

I am inspired today by the March 12 post on zen habits, one of the few blogs to which I subscribe by e-mail, entitled The Magical Power of Focus. In the last few days, I have noticed a backsliding from my healthy habits of the last several months. So I am renewing my commitment to focus on health. 

My frequent job-related travel presents a challenge, as does my too-full schedule, so an important health practice for me is to create buffers of space and downtime around those activities. In particular, as an introvert, when I have periods involving intense interaction with others, I need times of quiet reflection to replenish my energy. Another important practice is mindful attention to the task at hand, being in the flow, and avoiding the temptation to multitask. 

Having tried in the past to focus on more than one goal at a time, I can testify that it only made me feel overwhelmed and ineffectual. Although it may seem as though I am trying to focus on several things at once (healthy eating, increased exercise, stress reduction techniques, etc.), I will really be focusing on one aim of health and well-being, with individual practices subordinate to that goal. Evaluating each activity against that overarching objective will, I believe, result in my becoming healthier.

What are you becoming as a result of your thoughts or focus?


Flow

March 8, 2008

Life is a series of natural spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them–that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like. ~Lao Tzu

Flow with whatever is happening and let your mind be free. Stay centered by accepting whatever you are doing. This is the ultimate. ~Chuang Tzu

Boy, do I need these quotations this morning! I am feeling battered by my situation, and it is so tempting to sink into bitterness or depression. I have just reread The Not So Big Life, and although I intellectually understand the concept of not “pushing the rope,” I find myself doing it over and over.

My whole orientation as a manager is to work toward positive results, so how do I let go of the results, “let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like”? I think one reason I long for retirement is to escape this conflict in me, but I do understand that is not the right reason to retire.

May I center myself by just sitting with things today, letting my mind be free. May I learn to let go of resistance, making way for acceptance of whatever I am doing.


Speed and Greed

March 5, 2008

How can you contribute your unique talents and gifts to the progress of the planet without damaging the environment or harming others? Can you be in the world but not of it, avoiding participation in the endless cycle of speed and greed that increasingly marks our culture? ~Stephan Bodian

Bodian explores the notion of “right livelihood,” deriving from the Buddhist tradition, but “evolved to refer more broadly to any meaningful, fulfilling work that makes a positive contribution to the world and expresses a compassionate or sacred intent.” The concept is simple: Do no harm.

But that’s harder than ever in today’s world, it seems. Bodian quotes Joanna Macy, “Right livelihood is far more complex now than it was in the time of the Buddha, because we find ourselves in economic and ecological relationships that are simply unsustainable in the long term. To the degree that we participate in these relationships, we inevitably cause harm in some way through our work.”

May I become increasingly aware of ways I participate in our culture of speed and greed, so that I may move ever closer to right livelihood through right intention and right action. May I be joyfully mindful of my work, seeking to be of service yet unattached to the outcome.


Balance

March 2, 2008

The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities. ~Stephen Covey

In the attitude of silence the soul finds the path in a clearer light, and what is elusive and deceptive resolves itself into crystal clearness. Our life is a long and arduous quest after Truth and the soul requires inward restfulness to attain its full height. ~Mahatma Gandhi

Without great solitude no serious work is possible. ~Pablo Picasso 

I have recently submitted requests for vacation days several months in advance. In May I will travel with friends to a state park for a few days R&R; in June, I plan to see Iris DeMent in concert; and I have scheduled several Mondays off to extend my weekends. The Mondays in particular will allow me space and time for silence, solitude and creativity.

For too long, my paid work has been a priority that crowded out others. While I love my work, I have to consciously attend to relationships, home, solitude and rest in order to maintain balance. How do you achieve balance in your life among the many demands you face and roles you play?


How Others Feel

February 27, 2008

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.  ~Maya Angelou

A part of my mind rejects this idea because I don’t like the discounting of what we say and do, but I know it is true. To a large degree, it is the emotional content of what we say and do that people connect with (or are repelled by), regardless of the intellectual content or even the actions themselves.

It’s usually easy to tell how people feel when we’re in close relationship: spouse, family, friends. But how can we better understand our impact on those who are less transparent to us or less forthcoming with their feedback? Do we need to concern ourselves with that?

I know that at work I am often intensely focused on a task at hand, and when I am interrupted, it takes a while for me to shift my attention to the person who needs it. I’m sure this has sometimes sent a message I didn’t intend. As an introvert, I am slow to warm up to people and need time to process interaction. But I would like to practice being more fully present for others and to smile more! 🙂


Free Time

February 24, 2008

…the Chinese pictograph for busyness is “heart killing.” ~from Sue Monk Kidd’s Firstlight

Whenever we have a little free time, most of us seek some form of amusement. We pick up a serious book, a novel, or a magazine. If we are in America, we turn on the radio or the television, or we indulge in incessant talk. There is a constant demand to be amused, to be entertained, to be taken away from ourselves….Very few of us ever walk in the fields and the woods, not talking or singing songs, but just walking quietly and observing things about us and within ourselves.  ~J. Krishnamurti

Today I celebrate space, free time. In addition to my work, which includes a lot of travel and a 3-hour commute 3 days a week, I am taking two post-Master’s classes this semester. So it is rare these days to have hours without busyness and obligations, but today I have virtually nothing I have to do. No “heart-killing” for me today.

I find that order, space, and free time are helpful in stimulating my creative impulses. So I will first tidy my office and then surround myself with the tools of creativity: paper and pencil, my favorite books, art supplies, and other familiar playthings. Even the computer is a tool for creative work if I refuse to be seduced by stumbling upon new Web sites, playing computer Scrabble or checking e-mail.

Later, I may “walk in the fields and woods…observing things.”  Or practice yoga and mindfulness meditation. How do you use free time?

P. S. This is a quote that belongs with my previous post on the ineffable creative process:  Art criticism is to the artist as ornithology is to the birds. ~Barnett Newman


The Beauty We Love

February 20, 2008

Today, like every other day, we wake up empty and frightened.
Don’t open the door to the study and begin reading.
Take down a musical instrument.
Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.

~Rumi

What a beautiful last line. It almost makes up for Rumi’s dissing of reading! 😉 And just look at that first line that describes the human condition–not one that’s special (“like every other day”) nor one that is unique to us as individuals (“we wake up”). The question Rumi begs here, of course, is “What is the beauty you love?” This poem is one answer for me.

Only in midlife have I begun to understand that this is the right question, much less to consider the answers to the question. As a child, I don’t remember having dreams about what I would be when I grew up. It didn’t occur to me to aspire to anything in particular, even though I came from a solidly middle-class household that valued education and achievement. Possibly this was true for many girls, whose socially acceptable options typically consisted of teacher, nurse, wife and mother. Most certainly, though, the question in my family would have had more to do with accomplishment as measured by society than with the beauty I loved. 

So…what is the beauty I love? Poetry, words, music, textural arts (fiber, glass, multimedia), laughter, yoga, living spaces with feng shui, human connection, singing. What is the beauty you love?


Driving

February 18, 2008

Car Crash

Yours will happen some dark night
On the long road from a family visit–
Perhaps when the planets next align
As they did last night: Mercury, Venus,
Mars, moon, Saturn, Jupiter–
Or when the sun is bright,
And you admire someone’s azaleas
Or catch a colorful line of wash
Blowing in the breeze.
Suddenly, you’re in a ditch,
Images swirling at the backs of your eyes.

I will be coming home from work
Scribbling fast to trap some phrase
About to slip through the sieve of memory:
Writing “fiddleheads of fern,”
Or today, “The Car Crash,”
When I looked up to face
Head-on, lights and sirens blaring,
A prophetic ambulance.
They will find me grinning by the side of the road,
A pencil clutched in my hand.

It is an understatement to say I do a lot more driving than I did before I changed jobs 18 months ago. Theoretically, I telework two days a week, but no week is the same. Today, for example, I drove 240 miles to present a 2.5-hour workshop.

In July 2006, I bought a new car for the new job, and five weeks later, hit a deer with it. More accurately, the deer slammed into me. I now have over 41,000 miles on this car, and I estimate that I have spent $4500 on gasoline in the last year and a half just to get to and from my office three days a week (not to mention traveling around the state).

The poem is not new, but I think of it sometimes on my travels. Mostly, I can ignore how vulnerable I am on the freeway around Atlanta and the highways of rural Georgia. (As Wally says, “Isn’t it terrible what we can get used to?”) Occasionally, the full impact of my lifestyle flashes clearly in my mind, and I have a strong desire to stop the madness–not to mention the violence I am doing to the planet.

For now, I will continue to do what I have to do in order to do work I love. And now is all we have, after all.


Lightness

February 3, 2008

To appreciate nonsense requires a serious interest in life.  ~Gelett Burgess

Let your life lightly dance on the edges of Time like dew on the tip of a leaf.  ~Rabindranathe Tagore

Life is too important to be taken seriously.  ~Oscar Wilde

Three ways of saying, “Lighten up!”  Tagore’s words also point to the ephemeral nature of life. If we don’t laugh now, then when?

Sure, there’s plenty to be distressed about. But satire can help us bear (and hopefully change) those things:

(Imagine a “Daily Show with Jon Stewart” clip here. Every time I try to bring one in from YouTube it disappears. If you can help, I’d love to hear from you!)

There is also much about life that is fun, light, playful. May I notice those things more readily, laugh more easily, and make play at least as important as work in my life.


Slowing Down?

January 15, 2008

You ask me how I can remain calm and not become upset when those around me are all bustling about. What can I say to you? I did not come into the world to agitate it. Is it not sufficiently agitated already?  ~St. Francois de Sales

My day yesterday started out to be relatively peaceful (one 3-hour meeting in a town 2 hours away), even though I forgot my intention to slow down for Slow Down Week.  Then I remembered (around 7:30 p.m.) that I had a weekly online chat from 8 to 10 p.m. for the class I am taking from FSU. My normal bedtime is between 9 and 9:30, since on the days I commute to Atlanta (like today), I get up at 4. And of course, at 10 p.m., following my class, I was wound up and had to spend at least a half hour unwinding before sleep.  Incidentally, my favorite way to do that is New York Times Sunday Crosswords.

Today consisted of one meeting after another–after my 1.5-hour commute, I did manage to have 7 to 8:30 a.m. to unpack my bag, clean out my inbox, and check my e-mail, but then the meetings began: one from 8:30 to 9, one from 9 to 10, one from 10:30 to 11, one from 11 to 2 (which went until 2:30) and one from 2:30 to 3:00 (my normal quitting time). Only at the end of the day did I remember it is Slow Down Week!

Now I am sipping red wine in honor of the week (a good excuse, don’t you think?) instead of walking on the treadmill (isn’t there something weird about that activity?) I used to go to a gym, where at some point I was really struck by all the simulations of natural activity–pretending to row, pretending to walk, pretending to bicycle. How bizarre.

I have another chance to observe this special week tomorrow–I am working from home, which means I can sleep an extra two hours. I’ll bet I can be more mindful, not cause much ‘agitation,’ and actually be more productive and centered.  So, tell me, friends…have you done anything differently for Slow Down Week?


Sleeplessness

January 10, 2008

True silence is the rest of the mind, and is to the spirit what sleep is to the body, nourishment and refreshment.  ~William Penn

As I often do these days, it seems, I woke at 3:00 a.m. with a sinus headache. My experience tells me that the only cure is to get up and be vertical for a while. And I actually love the silence of the morning. There is something about silence that is like a warm cloak on a cold day; it feels luxurious, comforting, and calming. I am grateful for silence.

Solitude and silence are grounding, too. Thomas Á Kempis said, “If you wish to grow in your spiritual life, you must not allow yourself to be caught up in the workings of the world; you must find time alone, away from the noise and confusion, away from the allure of power and wealth.” Who among us today knows the joy and value of solitude, of silence? There is something disturbing about the ubiquitous cell phone, and the apparent addiction of so many people to that form of connection. What are all these people talking about? When do they listen to their own hearts?

Later today I will conduct a training session for about 30 public library trustees. Tonight I will visit with two close friends, share stories and laughter, and bask in their loving presence. And all I do today will be more mindful, more effective, more enjoyable for the solitude and silence that have fed me this morning.


Busy-ness

August 30, 2007

It is not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is: what are we busy about? ~Thoreau

I’ve just returned from a conference in Charleston. Although most of the scheduled time there was very productive (Sandra Nelson teaching people from state libraries all over the country how to develop a Continuing Education plan), there is so much busy-ness to traveling: the planning, the packing, the breaks in routine that necessitate extra decision making, the orienting oneself to surroundings, the eating out, the meeting new people, the long hours of driving (in this case) or flying, the unpacking…

Now I am looking out at Cedar Ridge across the valley, and being grateful I am through with busy-ness for at least a day or two.  It has rained, a slow and gentle shower, and now mist is rising between Chestnut Knob and the ridge behind. 

It’s a good thing I will forget the irritation of busy-ness quickly, because this weekend I do the packing all over again for a week’s vacation at Gulf Shores (hallelujah)!