slow down

“Restore your attention or bring it to a new level by dramatically slowing down whatever you're doing.” 
― Sharon Salzberg, Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation

On Mondays, I can usually count on a phone call from our son Brandon. Monday is fishing day for him and he often calls me in the evening to tell me about his day. A good day fishing for him, does not necessarily mean he caught fish. What it does mean is that he was out there, on or by some body of water, casting whatever rod he felt was needed to get the job done, doing what he loves. He has a few different fishing partners and there are always stories for him to share. I look forward to these calls. 

He calls last Monday night to report that he didn't catch anything, but man he had fun. It was a beautiful day out and he and his friend were on Whidley Island.  He tells me at one point he just turned his face towards the sun and stood there, just taking in the moment. Fishing always makes both of us think of my dad, his grandpa or Gramps as he called him, and so we talk a bit about Gramps. He tells me that he would give anything to spend just one more day with any of his grandparents and how time flies and we should make the most of it. I went to bed with a very full heart that night. 

It seems that this boy of mine, who will turn 35 in a couple of weeks has learned early what it really means to live. We can't do it all, so we must find what feeds and nourishes our soul and make time to do it. And while we are doing it, we must pay attention and be in the moment. 

I find myself doing more and more of this lately and with purpose. I take my time fixing dinner,  and will spend three days fermenting dough for sourdough bread. l am mindful when working in my garden beds, being careful of the delicate shoots coming up and taking note of the fat worms and the smell of the soil. I taste my food, smell my wine, walk the dog and close my eyes when I row. My world might not be very big, but it is beautiful and full and I try not to miss a thing. 

People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child—our own two eyes. All is a miracle.
— Thich Nhat Hanh, The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation
Over the years, certain stories in the history of family take hold. They’re passes from generation to generation, gaining substance and meaning along the way. You have to learn to sift through them, separating fact from conjecture, the likely form the implausible.

Here is what I know: Sometimes the least believable stories are the true ones.
— Christina Baker Kline, A Piece of the World

Spring is here for real and I go to bed most nights tired in the best way. Tired from working in the flower beds. My hands hurt and my nails are a mess and no amount of scrubbing removes all the dirt. He has turned most of the vegetables beds and all we need is a bit more warmth and I can plant some seeds in the ground. I find myself eager to get out of bed and wonder if I would be like this if I lived somewhere where the weather was always nice. I think the darkness of winter helps spring seem all that more delicious. 

how was your week? 

my rhythm

“It is a strange and wonderful fact to be here, walking around in a body, to have a whole world within you and a world at your fingertips outside you. It is an immense privilege, and it is incredible that humans manage to forget the miracle of being here. Rilke said, ‘Being here is so much,’ and it is uncanny how social reality can deaden and numb us so that the mystical wonder of our lives goes totally unnoticed.
We are here. We are wildly and dangerously free.” 
― John O'Donohue

I get stuck in the car this past week without anything to listen to and find an old On Being podcast on my phone. I listen to John O'Donohue's voice as he talks about beauty and time and the landscapes of our lives and as I listen my world widens. He seems to be letting me know that I am okay. That this simple, unencumbered life we are living is right on track. He helps me understand why the coming of spring brings me to my knees at times and why a few weeks ago, as we sat in downtown Seattle and listened to the Wailin Jennies sing in perfect harmony, I cried. 


I spend countless hours, during the week, working behind the scenes of this blog. (Mailchimp and I seem to have had some miscommunication problems and so I apologize if you are not getting what you signed up for on the subscription form but I think I have it all figured out now). 

I also spend hours messing with the layout of the blog. I try several new templets, thinking maybe I need a new look. Only to find myself back where I started. And, I work on my accidental projects. By this I mean I cull through my photos and am surprised to see that I indeed have some series of photos that I shoot over and over. I am afraid now that I have identified them, and given them a name, I might suffer from photoblock.  I put a few up under the photography tab and act like I know what I am doing. I fight with the whole dang thing until I consider shutting it all down. 

Because all the glorious, everyday beauty is slipping by and I am losing precious time tying to make this space something it is not, and I can't help but wonder why. . . 

I think about how "back in the day" I fought with time. It was a precious commodity and the few moments I had to myself were few and far between. I always felt behind. Today I get out of bed most days to a clear and open schedule. I am free to do just what I want. And after getting over the idea of what I should want to do, I have found things that truly fill me up. I have found my beauty, my inner landscape if you will and documenting some of it is my proof. It is one of the tools I use to construct my world. And I understand that the feelings I have about changing this space is just a way of shaping and building it. As long as I continue to show up, this space will evolve. 

I mean that everyone is involved, whether they like it or not, in the construction of their world. So it’s never as given as it actually looks. You are always shaping it and building it. And I feel that from that perspective, that each of us is an artist.
— John O'Donhue

You have traveled too fast over false ground;
Now your soul has come to take you back.

Take refuge in your senses, open up
To all the small miracles you rushed through.

Become inclined to watch the way of rain
When it falls slow and free.

Imitate the habit of twilight,
Taking time to open the well of color
That fostered the brightness of day.

Draw alongside the silence of stone
Until its calmness can claim you.”

— John O'Donohue

And I think when you slow it down, then you find your rhythm, and when you come into rhythm, then you come into a different kind of time.
— John O'Donohue

Maybe for right now anyway, I have found my rhythm. 

Coming out of Hibernation

“The winter solstice has always been special to me as a barren darkness that gives birth to a verdant future beyond imagination, a time of pain and withdrawal that produces something joyfully inconceivable, like a monarch butterfly masterfully extracting itself from the confines of its cocoon, bursting forth into unexpected glory.”
—Gary Zukav

And just like that we turn the corner and spring is in view. The yard is full of birds and tiny shoots of perennials, their hibernation underground complete. Mine too. . .  

I come into this season full of myself. Meaning, I settled so many of the battles I fought from within over the dark months of winter. I find myself emerging into this new season comfortable and yet motivated. Comfortable within my own skin and motivated to let myself shine. 

I make a list of things that seem to nourish my soul, taking everyone else out of the equation. 

1. Being alone in the quiet of the early morning, making my latte in the muted natural light of our kitchen. 
2. My rowing class. The idea that I really like doing something this physical pleases me and shows me a side of myself that surprises me a little. I walk out sweaty and full of energy, nourished in a way that is new to me. 
3. Gardening. I started gardening the year we were married and I am still at it. It is such a part of who I am that I would not feel whole without dirt under my nails. 

4. Writing. I have tired all shapes and forms and understand now sometimes a sticky note is as important as a long essay. 
5. Meditation. Of all the paths I explored to get myself back to me, meditating is the one I hold on to. Sometimes it is just three deep breaths, sometimes it is an hour. 
6. Letting go of judgement. Both towards others and myself. Also, leaning to just be true to myself and let others judge if they must and not to take it personal. 

7. long walks, snuggling with the dog, day trips with my husband, fancy cocktails with my kids, watching birds at the feeders, laughing at the squirrels, bodies of water, the sound of a train whistle at night, swimming in deep clear water, ferry rides, a good book, making bread, stretching after a class at the gym, bookshops, Mary Oliver's poetry, picking wild blackberries, tiny bouquets, gathering treasures on my walks, sunrises and sunsets, dinner from the garden, the smell of lilacs, a heard of elk, good music, a good movie, a field of lupin, easy conversations, honesty, equality, compassion, empathy, and love. 

8. My camera. It dawns on me that I have spent years trying too hard. Years looking for my real passion, my style my focus. I read too much about what makes a good photo, and I compare my work to others. I question my creativity and the reason why I do it. I am often not sure where to share and wonder why I want to.  And yet, when I cull through my archives I see it so clearly,  I shoot what nourishes me. My camera brings all of these things on my list to the forefront and enriches that nourishment. The entire process brings me nothing but joy. And sharing it with other via this blog, or social media is a something I enjoy doing. Following others, for all sorts of reasons, is inspiring and rewarding. 

I look at that list and see that much of it has a nostalgia feel to it. Moments of true happiness from my childhood and my early life shine through. I know where I lost myself. I understand the reasons and can identify the causes of the pain. And this helps for sure. But what really brings me out of this long hibernation is that I can also identify moments this past winter, where I had ah-ha resolutions and turned a corner. When I left something I was trying on behind because as much as I wanted it to work, it wasn't. When I stopped trying so hard and begin to like myself again, to not lay blame and to not hold on so tight to my mistakes I started to slowly  feel myself slipping back gently, into me. I opened my heart and my arms and allowed myself to be loved. I let go and moved forward. Different and yet the same, happy and content and strong. 

I have rooted myself into this quiet place where I don’t need much to get by. I need my visions. I need my books. I need new thoughts and lessons, from older souls, bars, whisky, libraries; different ones in different towns. I need my music. I need my songs. I need the safety of somewhere to rest my head at night, when my eyes get heavy. And I need space. Lots of space. To run, and sing, and change around in any way I please—outer or inner—and I need to love. I need the space to love ideas and thoughts; creations and people—anywhere I can find—and I need the peace of mind to understand it.
— Charlotte Eriksson

is spring showing her face yet in your corner of the world?