Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Dig into Yourself

"Go into yourself and see how deep 
the place is from which your life flows."  
- Rainer Maria Rilke

Your fingers that nudge keys
Use them rather than a shovel

Dip. Dig. Dive into the sand
The sea will swirl the hole 

Excavate into the depths

Let warm sand and liquid 
swish to massage fingers
Delve to discover a curiosity
that has remained hidden
It may scurry up to you

A nautilus shell empty of occupant
will reveal its silky texture

Empty means best
Ready? Get fill-eager

Let the salt water wash in
Probe your gifts forgotten
Notice the ways
memory arrives

Fears. Joys. Sorrows
Desires trickle

Into the layered years

If the tide hurries to shore
to inundate the empty space

Select your found treasures 
Bring them home.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Take a Break

Take a break to play with words.

Choose three letters of the alphabet to begin the process. They do not have to form a sentence or make sense. Go for two lines of nouns and verbs; four to a line or more.  

Go as fast as you can. Don't pay attention to the order. Let one word follow another without stopping.  

Just tickle the brain's synapses.  Avoid of, and, adjectives, and adverbs.

If you get stuck, stop and start with another letter. Using letters in sequence helps.

Find a pen that flows. A fountain pen with colored ink will lead you in mysterious ways.

Search for a rhythm rather than a reason for the flow of words.

Nature nurtures notions nutrients.
Nativity noodled needs nothing.

Manes manage motioned mantles.
Moisture manacled mischief's meanderings.

Octopus optimism opinionated October.
Occupation occluded oxygen occasion.

Prosperity proposes pilgrims petals.
Petunia play progressed potential.

After your three letter series, take a break. Walk in the garden or down the street.  Breathe in and out.

Return to your page and let the next words have their way with you in paragraph form.

What did you discover?

Monday, May 29, 2017

To Honor Our Veterans

Soldier, rest! Thy warfare o'er,
Sleep the sleep that knows not breaking,
Dream of battled fields no more.
Days of danger, nights of waking. 
-Sir Walter Scott

After the Civil War, the government created a holiday to honor the Union and Confederate soldiers who had died in battle. Union general John Logan chose May 30th because it did not honor the anniversary of any battle.

When World War I ended, they extended the idea to honor all United States soldiers who died in any war.

In 1968, Congress's Uniform Holidays Act severed the link between Memorial Day and the original date, changing it instead to "the last Monday in May" to allow for a three-day weekend.

Memorial Day has become a holiday for families to remember anyone they have lost (veteran or otherwise), to lay flowers at grave sites.

For those unable to travel to the graves of their loved ones, there are websites like, where one can create a cyber-monument and leave a "virtual" note or bouquet.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Determination of 29 Steps

Near the end of my running route, 29 stairs loom. I can decide to smell the flowers and climb them once. Or, depending on mind and body, repeats beckon.  

Up the stairs two at a time for longer strides, then a recovery down the hill to climb again.  

On high energy days it's all right to run the row and go.  When I'm sluggish or my mind twirls in unfriendly conversation, I go for five repeats at least.

It might take ten to jiggle the juices.

The 29 ahead alter thoughts and energy level; that's their job.

With writing and life, the same policy applies. One more line, or word must end a day's practice. I'll give it another go in search of phrasing in a poem or essay. 

Several tries solve a life challenge. 

The 29 steps call me to scurry onward.

In both situations, I will feel the confidence and motivation of inspiration combined with perspiration.

Which aspect of your life requires the determination of 29 steps? 

Write yourself through the ennui, confusion, or frustration. Don't stop before you feel a sense of accomplishment. 

Energize your heart.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Power to Positivity

How do we maintain balance in a world that presses us with what’s broken, what’s dreadful, and what’s wrong?
It takes patience and perseverance to sort out the news and waltz beyond worry.
Take time to skip looking at the catastrophe network or reading headlines for a day.
6f77a-heartsvelvetPush away from the computer. Leave your cell phone. Find hearts in shadows.

Go out in the morning and Sing!
Immerse yourself in nature.
Take a walk and replace negative thoughts and frustrations with the scents and colors that pass along the way.
Ask questions. What does a peregrine or bee do when faced with an obstacle?
Listen for different sounds.

Observe shapes and textures.

Imagine clouds with anxiety. Will the release of rain help?
Marvel at the ways the sea rants in ripples.
Distractions move the mind back to the present moment.
Rocks let the sea and sky pass over, under, around, and through.

Let nature’s wisdom seep into your thoughts and actions.
See smiles in petals.
Breathe in the majesty.
Find Power in Positivity.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Let Go

Let go of what has passed.
Let go of what may come.
Let go of what is happening now.
Don't try to figure anything out.
Don't try to make anything happen.
Relax. Right now. Rest.
- Tilopa

Relent and realize time in ease.  Let go of the mind's clutter and chatter. Erase the clatter.

Move into stillness.  Let in images of nature to return you to a placid state.  

Snuggle under the comforter of blue the sea offers.

Let your mind sneak into the clouds and feel the textures from silky to moist.
Smell the breeze for daisies.  
            Find an amusement in bee activity.

Let nature distract you until you've forgotten strains, stresses, and worries.  

Take a nap.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Moment to Moment

A Zen story from Paul Reps’ Zen Flesh, Zen Bones, illustrates the idea of mindfulness in the moment. After studying to be a Zen teacher, Teno went to visit Nan-in, an old Zen master. Teno left his shoes and umbrella in the entrance before entering Nan-in’s house. After greetings, Nan-in asked Teno, "Did you leave your umbrella to the left or right to your shoes?"  Unable to answer,  Teno realized he still had a way to go and went away for six more years to study.

Present moment awareness boosts stress resilience and well-being. Researchers find it lowers levels of anxiety and depression.
Leah Weiss, a teacher at Stanford University’s Compassion Cultivation Program, advocates mindfulness in action. She suggests practicing throughout the day, rather than just for a 10 minute meditation. Weiss suggests, “becoming mindfully aware of your thoughts, feelings, and surroundings even while you’re engaged in some other activity.”

Japanese railway employees have used a technique for error-prevention. The technique is called shisa kanko, variants include shisa kakunin kanko and yubisashi kosho. The term means, “pointing and calling.” 

In the early 1900s a steam-train engineer Yasoichi Hori, started to lose his sight. Worried that he’d go through a signal by mistake, Hori began to call out the signal status to the fireman riding with him. The fireman confirmed it by calling back.  An observer decided this was an excellent way of reducing error, and by 1913 it was encoded in a railway manual as kanko oto (“call and response”).  The pointing came later, after 1925.

The theory indicates that hearing your own voice, and engaging the muscles of the mouth and arm, stimulates your brain to become more alert. 

Research conducted in 1994 by the Railway Technical Research Institute noted that workers asked to complete a simple task made 2.38 errors per 100 actions when no special steps were taken to prevent errors. When told to add just calling or just pointing, their error rate dropped significantly. If workers used both steps together, they received the greatest reduction in error.  The combination of pointing and calling reduced mistakes by almost 85 percent.  

A wide range of Japanese industries and businesses now uses the technique, since the 1980s as part of a comprehensive program to reduce on-the-job accidents. 

Put more mindfulness into your life. Start with something simple, like pointing and calling before you leave home in the morning. 

Lights off? Check. Windows closed?Check. Money? Check. Phone? Check. 
With this technique, you’ll never forget your keys or valuables again.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Stretch Beyond Difficulties

We should not feel embarrassed by our difficulties, only by our failure can anything grow.
 -Alain de Botton

I begin the day with a yoga class to move past tightness and breathe beyond difficulties. This vinyasa class includes poses held longer,  movement, and a focus on balance and intensity. The challenges of class force me into the moments as I loosen muscles and breathe through my monkey mind.

During the days of my athletic competitions, the goal became ferocity and winning beyond the moment. We would say, "Some people focus on what they're going through, champions focus on what they're going to." In yoga the moment means focus without a need for the goal. It becomes difficult to avoid thinking about the "going to" when I fall out of a pose.


Breathing takes over. With twists and turns, my mind and limbs ease into the poses. Stretching right side, then left extends boundaries. How grateful I feel not to possess the appendages of an octopus today; four limbs require enough focus.

Remaining in each moment soothes the day's tightness. Strength past the struggle enlivens my body and mind. With a concentration on breathing, the process itself unravels frustration and opens possibilities the way my writing does. 

After class I watch clouds clumping and pelicans flying. The day seeps into my cells and brings thoughts of renewal with flashes of color and sound that erupt from the earth in flowers, songbird trill, and waves.

I feel refreshed and returned to my buoyancy. 

Consider what you find difficult today. How will you bring successes from the past to your present moments of discomfort? Write to discover and move beyond today's difficulties.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Delve into Details

"Sometimes a seemingly insignificant detail reveals a whole world," says artist Pierre Cordier. "Like the messages hidden by spies in the dot of an i."

Details and messages abound during the day.

Stay alert to tone shifts and minutiae.

Revelations emerge from what at first seems trivial.

Insights ignite in response to acts of beauty or subtle shifts of tone.

Branches bend and twist. 

See the spaces among the angles.

Glimpse into fine points and specifics.

Notice what you have never considered before.

Creativity is a natural extension 
of our enthusiasm.  ~ E. Nightingale