Wednesday, May 31, 2017


It is an other rainy day in New England. I could remind myself of all the platitudes about what spring rain brings and how the clouds allow the water to recharge the aquifers, but I have a different idea. Rather then try to convince myself I am happy about the rain, I can work on my acceptance practice. 

Accepting the rain as what is doesn't require me thinking I am happy about it. I simply accept that rain is what is happening right now. It is something I can't control, and I can recognize it as such. If I don't, I can't be where I am right here, right now. 

Today, I am working on accepting what is, so I can be where I am. Right here. Right now.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017


This morning there was a Mayfly resting on one of the screens in the screen house. The light shone faintly through its wings. A Mayfly leg is as thin as a strand of hair, and it seems implausible that something so fine can endure, but it does. It got me thinking about the specific balance between air pressure and mater that makes it possible for anything to exist. 

The scientific vocabulary now includes the idea that a unit of life is better understood as a network, rather than an individual. I would extend this idea and say that a network is better understood as a relationship between things. In saying this, am not so much referring to the “things” but the “between” that is the relationship. 

For me, existence is only in this moment and in the space between. Mayfly reminds me of the culmination of perfection that is this moment and this space in between, this singular unit of life.

Monday, May 29, 2017


I love asking questions. Not any questions, though. I love to ask questions that illuminate people's purposes, passions, and callings. The Phoebes are nesting under the peak of the Eastern end of the cabin. I can watch them flying in and out of their nest from our bedroom window. This morning I opened my eyes and saw one hover briefly outside the window before flying to the nest. I wanted to ask the bird why it stopped to hover. Then it occurred to me that if I wanted to know, I could sit and watch them for a while. It would eventually become clear. That's the thing about birds and such. If you want to know why they do what they do, all you have to do is watch. Their intentions are manifest in what they do. These Phoebes are obviously committed to feeding their babies. I don't have to ask them. They are telling me by doing what they do. It strikes me that there is a deep honesty in this. The Phoebes are doing what matters to them. They are living their purposes in their actions. In the moments of their lives they embody what they are committed to. 

I am committed to illuminating the unique importance of every person by asking questions that manifest their purpose for being. The Phoebes remind me that my commitment should be obvious enough for someone watching me to understand what it is.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Bird Song

This morning, as I listened to the bird song, it occurred to me that bird song is honest. Then I wondered if the birds were telling the truth. Then it occurred to me that honesty and truth are not the same thing. Honesty asks that I do something. Truth asks that I know something. Perhaps the intersection of doing and knowing is far more simple with Bird. I hear the essence of Bird when they sing. Today I will strive to be honest. If there is truth on that, all the better.

Saturday, May 27, 2017


Early this morning the Cat circled the room twice before settling down on our bed for a nap. The Dog turned on her cushion several time before finding the perfect orientation to lay down and go back to sleep. Even in the squareness of the cabin, they find circles. They reminded me that circles are everywhere. In the cycles of the seasons, the seasons of life, the orbits of the planets, circles dominate our existence and remind me that everything is connected. 

In the June Scientific American magazine I read that “the unit of life may not be an individual, but a network.” I am grateful for the privilege of being a part of everything including the Cat's circle and the Dog's cushion.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Hard Work

This morning it is raining. The phoebes have to work hard. They are fly catchers. That means they catch bugs on the wing. When it rains, most of the bugs take cover, and wait for the rain to subside. But the Phoebe babies cant wait. They need to eat. So their parents work harder.

I watch and remember that sometimes I have to work harder to get past my thoughts. So the Phoebe parents fly out into the rain, and the tel tail flip in the air that happens when they catch something shows me that that babies will be fed. And I come back to now.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

As I sat on the deck this morning, I watched what the Phoebes were doing. This brought me back to what I was doing. I was sitting. I came back to my senses; the weight of my body on the deck, the breeze on my skin, the color of the trees, my breath. Then I heard the high squeak of the baby Phoebes, as their parents returned to the nest with food.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Today I am wondering what I can do to be of service. A family of Phoebes lives on the East side of the cabin. I sit and watch them going to the nest to feed their young over and over again, stopping only to look at me. They remind me of the importance of giving without concern for myself. They serve a larger purpose than themselves. Their work is in service of all Phoebes. Their personal needs are secondary to the survival of their species. They remind me how I can become distracted by my individual needs and forget about those around. We together are more than each of us alone. Today I will work in service of Us.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

For me the hardest part about being here and now, is remembering not to get seduced by distractions. Could'a, Should'a, Would'a, the future, the past, and my imagination are the biggest culprits. Catching myself in any of these territories is the first step. Once I remember to catch myself, I am back.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

This morning I woke up with a song.

Until those clouds disappear
I will be waiting for you

The song is about a specific kind of patience. The kind that has no agenda. The kind that knows that I have to go through what I have go to through to get where I need to be. And the kind that does not dictate that place. Today I am reminded of the importance of this kind of patience.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

This morning the crescent moon will make its journey through blue sky. This reminds me that the cycles of day and night represent nothing more than my position in relation to something far greater.

I am reminded that the possibilities for my life exist in this infinite frame, unbound by my terrestrial perspective.

Friday, May 19, 2017

This morning I woke to a cacophony of Birdsong. I listened, and realized that there were moments of silence. That brought me to the time I spend outside at night. Even on a cloudy moonless night, there is light. I can't see it right away. I have to wait; Wait for my eyes to adjust. They have to make the transition from what was, the inside of a well lit room, to what is, the outside. Slowly, my eyes begin to recognize the light. The light that was there all the time. 

This reminds me that in times of personal darkness or when the din of noise can seem overwhelming, there is always silence, there is always light. I just have to take the time to slow down, breath, and notice.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

This morning, I found Paper Wasp inside the screen house. She was searching and searching for a way out, but couldn't find any. Heavy snow this winter had frozen to one of the screen sections and ripped it almost entirely from the frame. The opening was gaping, but the Wasp didn't see it. She was looking up, when the hole was toward the bottom of the frame. 

She reminded me that there are always possibilities in my life. Sometimes, however, I am not looking in the right places because my expectations and habits are getting in my way. 

Thank you Paper Wasp.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

I have heard it said that the Willow tree is known for it's ability to bend with the wind, teaching us to be flexible in response to what life brings us. My experience is that all trees possess this talent for flexibility, even when the wind knocks them down.

When a Redwood tree falls, it becomes the beginning of more Redwood trees. Its very wood becomes the seed and the soil for the next generation of trees.

This reminds me that sometimes flexibility isn't always about surviving the storm in tact. Sometimes flexibility is about figuring out what to do with the pieces the storm has left behind.

Monday, May 15, 2017

7 Billion Geniuses- The Present and Expicit-Part II

When I find myself shut down or stuck, I check in with my breathing. Usually my abdomen is tight. I'm not breathing. 

So, I settle in and let my gut go. 

Then, slowly, one breath at a time, I get back to now.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

We started planning a week ago. We were going to take my mom out for dinner for Mother's day. I told her last week, and she was very excited. She lives in a nursing home now. Her memory isn't what it used to be. When we arrived at the home to take her to dinner, her face lit up with a light I hadn't seen in a long time. She was very excited. “What a surprise,” she said. She didn't remember that we had made plans. She didn't remember that we were coming. She didn't remember being excited the first time, when I told her we would be coming to take her out. She didn't remember that both my brothers were coming either. So when they arrived, she got very excited again.

For her, because of her memory, these situations are like having Christmas, forgetting it happened, and having it all over again. Beyond the pain of watching the sharpness of my mom's mind fade, and the dark times when she looses track of the basic things like how she gets to the grocery store, there is a lesson for me. Seeing every experience with new eyes, untarnished by expectations or regrets is something I can strive for. I can remember I am going out to dinner, but let go of the idea that I have any idea what is going to happen. Letting go of expectations and the idea that my memory is here to guide me, or keep me safe is a way for me to be more present in all the moments of my life. It may also ease my pain as, like my mother, my own sharpness start to fade.

Thanks Mom.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

This morning I saw a Squirrel climb one of the ladders of our old swing set. She did it to get to the top of the apple tree that lives off the Eastern side of our cabin. She reminded me that doing things that hard way is not a requirement. Sometimes taking the easier road is fine, as long as it takes you where you are supposed to go, and you don't hesitate to veer off the easy road when it starts to divert you from your path.

Then I imagined my Squirrel teacher stuck on the swing set, unable to get off to climb onto the apple tree, where her breakfast of buds was waiting. In my mind, she climbed up one ladder, across the top and down the other. Then she climbed up again, around and around in a never ending loop. This image reminded me of traps I can get caught in, where the seduction of ease blinds me from seeing what is available to me just on the other side of something difficult.

Thank you Squirrel teacher for bringing me back to balancing the value of challenge with the importance of not making thing harder than they need to be.

Friday, May 12, 2017

I woke up this morning with a song. Here's the lyrics so far.
When anger and worry
Won't get off your back
And rush to remind you
Of something you lack
Don't you know
It gets easier

I am reminded that no matter how hard things get, things always get easier. Acceptance, forgiveness, gratitude and service. “This too shall pass.”

Thursday, May 11, 2017

It occurred to me this morning that Catbird doesn't think for an instant what other people think about his song. He just sings. For me busking is a personal act of resistance. It is a stand in the context of voices and ideas that could distract me from doing something I love; Ideas that want me to think I am too old or not good enough, or want me to worry about what people might think. 

Catbird is a teacher for me. He is a beacon of being in a world of judgment and doubt. When I play in the street today I will be thinking of Catbird and doing my best to resist the distractions that would pull me down.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Being present and explicit requires, first, presence. A catbird is known to be very social. That means they like to hang around with us. We have one living around the cabin this year. He seems to like to sit outside and sing long complex songs, as if he's telling us about everything he's seeing. 

This morning, as I listened to his song, I worked to stay in every moment of it. Not anticipating what would happen next or what he just sang, but being in what he was singing as he sang it. This note, this moment, right here right now.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

As I sat and did my breath work this morning, tears began to flow from my eyes. When I was younger and I would cry, my parents would tell me that it was the Shorie in me. Apparently the Shorie side of the family was more closely connected to their tears. As much as I tried, I could not connect my tears to a sadness I was aware of, or a joy or any feeling that I could recognize. 

I am learning that tears are not always connected to a feeling my mind can recognize. Sometimes they are simply what my body needs to do.

Monday, May 8, 2017

On top of our screen house there is a weather vein. The rod that connects it to the roof is bent, so it doesn't work. It's called weather vein because if you understand what the wind direction tells you, you will know what sort of weather is coming. 

The wind this morning was from the West. Is a storm coming? I don't know, but I'll pay attention and maybe next time I will.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

This morning, I woke and wondered what I would notice and what it would teach me. Later, while I was doing my breath work, I realized I was still holding onto that thought. I noticed Peeper, Chipmunk on the wood pile, and Ovenbird singing in the forest, and realized I was holding onto them as well. Then I remembered the Zen Koan about the professor looking for wisdom, the Master, and the overflowing tea cup. The master tells the professor, “I can not teach you. Your cup is already full.”

Someone once told me to remember to empty the bucket. So I let go of what I notice, I let go or Peeper, Chipmunk, and Ovenbird, I let go of the professor, the Master, and the tea cup. Now I let go of the bucket, and I am here.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

This morning I saw Chipmunk on the wood pile. It reminded me of a moment last year when the there was a Chipmunk on the wood pile. Seeing last year's Chipmunk was followed by the flash of Hawk's wing, and no more Chipmunk. Having had the memory, I scanned the trees for Hawk. If I saw her, I impulsed, I could warn Chipmunk.

Then it occurred to me. If a warn Chipmunk and Hawk fails, Hawk will simply have to go somewhere else for her breakfast. Do I warn Centipede off from Chipmunk? And all any of this accomplishes is making death happen somewhere else. I realized that this all speaks to a rather misguided relationship to death. Staying alive can not be the focus of existence. Death is not the opposite of life. Death is to life as steps are to walking. I am left grateful for this moment, ever poised between its beginning and its end.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Some mornings I am particularly inspired by what happens in my life, and I get ideas for more than one journal entry. That happened yesterday. Having three in the bag, I found it difficult to pay attention to what was going on this morning, as Birchy and I sat on the porch eating breakfast. 

This reminded me of the times when I am so distracted by what I am going to say in response, that I stop paying attention to words of the person with whom I am talking. When this happens, I miss out. Holding onto what I'm going to say has me missing out on was transpires in the mean time. I have checked out and am stuck in the conversation's past. I prefer to shape my response after the speaker is done, and I have taken in all that was said. It keeps me in the moment of the conversation, not stuck in the past of previous thoughts and limited conclusions. 

Returning to the moment and realizing what was going on this morning inspired me to write this. Now I have. And here we are.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

In my computer's thesaurus a synonym for the word “worry” is “care.” To my way of thinking this suggests that absent but implicit in the word worry is caring. For me worry is passive and not useful. Caring is something I can do. 

So I wonder how I might find a way to express caring that is present and explicit.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

I am told that the health of amphibians is a good indicator of the health of the environment. Although it happens earlier and earlier each year, the peepers that emerge from the cow pond behind the cabin did so again this spring. 

I am grateful to them for giving me hope about possible futures.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

I was once told that a masterpiece was not intended to be the defining achievement of a person, but simply a testament to their having learned all that the master had to teach them. The masterpiece represented the point at which the student could begin to contribute to the art form in new and original ways. 

This idea created for me a motif for learning. Rather than thinking about learning as a liner progression to a final definitive end point, learning can be a process of coming to multiple beginnings. Each beginning is an opportunity to contribute originality, enriching what was and creating new beginnings. 

In this way I move from the idea of static masterpieces that we replicate in a line, to one where every masterpiece creates the possibility of originality, enriching and thickening the possibilities of what can come next, fanning out in all directions.

Monday, May 1, 2017

In one moment I notice that the Robins have returned to the Eastern side of the cabin. In another, I notice that the hawk is flying West when she hunts. Robin and Hawk live not 50 yards from each other, yet now each lives its life. A Hawk could kill a Robin so quickly the Robin wouldn't even realize what had happened. 

The Birds remind me that awareness and worry are not the same thing. 

Worry is about what might be. 

Awareness is about what is. 

A Robin can live safely, but only in a cage. A free aware Robin pays attention to when the Hawk starts for fly west to hunt, leaving the Eastern side of the house for the Robin to do her own hunting. Might the Hawk come back? Yes, but Hawk isn't here now.

The Birds remind me that my life isn't about begin safe. Nor is it about what might happen. It is about living in the context of real risk, and not letting it take me out of the wonder of this moment.