Sunday, August 20, 2017

Illumination can arise


Do not resent them -- the simple repetitive tasks of daily life --
for in these quiet moments illumination can arise.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Not according to plan...


Sometimes things just don't work out;
"the best laid schemes o' Mice an' Men, gang aft agley."
The question then becomes -- how do we make the best of it?
How can we make this work?


Friday, August 18, 2017

Support systems


One of the gifts of those low tide moments in our lives:
they expose the strength and depth of our support systems --
the friends, the family, and faith that keep us straight and true.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

When things are looking dark


When things are looking dark, it gives us hope
to take the long view; to trust and to believe
in the dawning of the age that's yet to come.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Still waters


May this walk beside still waters restore your soul...

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Protective coloration


Sometimes protective coloration 
isn't about blending in to disappear.
Sometimes it's just about matching, to look like you belong,
but standing out enough so no one steps on you...
What choices will you make today
that won't be quite what you want or believe
but simply ensure you fit in with the crowd?

Monday, August 14, 2017

Fortunate


Encircled from afar
by the sun, the moon and stars,
How can we fail to realize
how fortunate we are?

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Stormy seas


How can we hope to weather
these impossibly stormy seas with so weak an anchor?

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Enjoy the view


Just because you can't get there from here,
that doesn't mean you can't enjoy the view.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Dahlia Prayers


Some days even the dahlias
are lifting their hands in prayer.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Alternative facts

The truth is, I saw all these things -- the pink sun, the dune grass, the bird in flight, the boat, the reflection on the water, the break in the trees where the bay cuts in... I just didn't see them all at exactly the same moment.

That's the wonder of Photoshop: I can put them all together into one arresting photo, and it looks like I captured the perfect moment -- with the possible exception of the metal heron sculpture on the left, which was turned a little away for my liking, though it's cool the way it's kind of pointing to the sun.

But the story this photo tells -- that I was there, and alert, with all those things coming together in a particular moment -- is not true; it only really says that I was persistent enough to photograph all the elements, and artist/photoshop expert enough to compile them all into a single image. And unless I specifically tell you that, I am misleading you.

They were all there -- the sun, the boat,
the weeds and the reflections --
just not at the exact same moment.
Just because the artist took the time
to shoot them and compile a single image
doesn't make it true. Does that mean Keats was wrong?

Is it any wonder that our society is struggling with alternative facts?

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Grounded in gravitas


It's possible, you know -- we learn it from the trees --
to be full of grace and humor, dancing in the light
while remaining fully grounded, rooted in the gravitas of being...

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Humble pleasures


That which is humble, simple and plain
can still add beauty and flavor to life.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Finding our balance


Nature somehow always manages to find her balance.
Why can't we do the same?

Sunday, August 6, 2017

When the past enriches the present

Though I've taken advantage of a couple of recent sales to acquire new canvases, I've basically spent this summer reclaiming old paintings that I never really liked.

It's certainly one of the things I love about working with acrylics -- if you don't like something you've done, you can just paint over it, and somehow the works of the past, textures and colors, have a way of enriching what's been laid over them.

It's a little bit about redemption, to be sure; that old mistakes can be turned into something wonderful. And it's a little bit about giving myself permission to fail: you know, paint whatever you like, explore new techniques, be free with colors and forms, because whatever doesn't work can be painted over, replaced.

It's also about learning to listen to my heart, and learning to trust my instincts -- something I've traditionally found it difficult to do. I'm particularly aware of this this morning for two reasons. The first is a bit of a story; I'll try to keep it brief.

Back when I was in my 20's I had a little radio show -- Pooh Corner -- in which I read children's books aloud, often accompanied by various jazz musician friends. It was fun, I enjoyed it, and I knew even then I had a good voice for that sort of thing. So years later, after I moved to Seattle and had quit work to raise our daughters, I thought about pursuing a career in voiceover work: you can pick and choose your hours, you can often work at home, and I could be using this odd gift that really took very little effort on my part.

So, on the recommendation of a friend, I began studying voiceover with an instructor in Seattle, heading into the city every week to learn more, to correct issues, and to read various and sundry scripts into a microphone in a recording studio, listen to the playback, and correct some more.  This went on for months, and I kept thinking I'd get a demo and an agent out of the deal, but somehow the work was never quite good enough, there were always imperfections, always more work to be done; more weekend workshops to be charged for...

Eventually I decided this was going nowhere, that clearly voiceover was a dead end for me; that I would never measure up, never have what it takes to succeed in the field -- or even get an audition. So I stopped going.  It wasn't until several years later that it began to occur to me -- because I got involved with a little podcasting group -- that perhaps the problem wasn't that I didn't have the chops, but that the instructor  just wanted to keep taking my money.

So when I received an email about a voiceover workshop that would result in a demo, I decided to sign up. The workshop was yesterday, and it was terrific: not only did I learn a lot, but I got tons of positive feedback -- and it looks like I'll get a demo, and even possibly a couple of demos, and an agent (?) out of the job.

We'll see -- the proof is in the pudding, and the pudding hasn't set yet. But I'm realizing several things as I look back over this story. In staying with that first instructor for so long, and then assuming that her assessment was correct, I may have cheated myself out of a career -- simply by not trusting my instincts about my own gifts. At the same time, I am amused by how thrilled I am by the positive feedback I got from yesterday's instructor. Why does it make me feel so happy and uplifted, and why can't I generate that kind of confidence on my own, without the feedback?

And yet -- there's a part of me that doesn't trust the feedback, and wonders if "oh, you say that to all the girls," you know, it's just pat praise, because that's what gets the instructor his jobs. The truth, I suspect, lies somewhere in the middle of all this, but until I actually get the demo that's supposed to result from yesterday's activities I won't really know quite what to think.

Which brings me to the second story (sorry this post is so long). Yesterday our daughter sent us a link to a blog post written by a former engineer at Google, in which he blasted another Google employee who made the mistake of sending a company-wide memo saying women should not be engineers. This particular daughter, who holds a managerial position in an engineering firm (as did I, back in the day), has always struggled with imposter syndrome -- a phenomenon many women know well, that sense that we don't belong here, that we don't really know what we're doing, even if we're getting lots of positive feedback. CF my struggles with voiceover work, cited above.

The blog post was wonderful, and talked about how basic engineering skills are essentially a commodity; that an engineer's real task is to learn to make those skills work in the context of an organization, attentive to both fellow workers and the needs of the customers being served by the product -- and that those skills are exactly the sort of "feminine" skills that the Google dude was decrying.

This kind of open backlash against women, which began surfacing back in 2014 in what's referred to as Gamergate, an attack on women in the videogame industry, seems increasingly common these days as political correctness slides sickeningly down the tubes with the advent of our current administration. The feminist in me is both horrified and oddly pleased to see this kind of thinking exposed after years of knowing it existed and seeing it buried under false platitudes. And some part of me is thrilled to hear that there's a man out there who "gets" that it takes a blend of masculine and feminine skills and gifts to make something work: as the parent of two daughters, each of whom has what I believe to be a very healthy balance of masculine and feminine traits, I would like to think that the world I will be leaving behind for them will appreciate that and somehow be more into respecting gender equality.

But I digress. Let me see if I can cut to the chase here. I guess where I'm going is this: I believe that by meditating, by consciously endeavoring to stay connected to the Divine, by consciously endeavoring to listen to that voice as it filters through the wisdom of our own hearts, we can rise above the push and pull of the voices around us -- both the undeserved criticism and the empty praise -- and somehow know the truth that lies at the center of all that; the truth about what we bring into the world, and the truth about what we're meant to do in this moment, now, to give voice to wholeness and somehow bring a better world to fruition.

The results may not be perfect, anymore than any of the recordings I made yesterday were perfect. But if we can keep listening and improving, the results may be good enough to share -- like this painting, which is just so much more pleasing to me than the ones that lie beneath it. And we just have to trust that everything that went before feeds into, informs, and enriches what is now.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Inflexible truth


Each of us believes we know
The truth about something,
And we're all invited to share that.
It's only when we become inflexible,
Thinking ours is the only truth,
That the world devolves bleakly
Into black and white.

(Image in photo by Phil Shaw, from Rebecca Hossack Gallery, Seattle Art  Fair)

Friday, August 4, 2017

Holding together


We hold them together:
the colors of the Now, the attractions of the present,
and the distant allure of the heights we've yet to climb...

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Love spills through each of us


Through each of us,
Love spills into the world,
Colored by our own unique
Perceptions and experiences.
What colors will you share with us today?

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Conservation



In the cool of the evening
I will rest and conserve my energy,
That I may have the reserves to survive
The heat of the day to come.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

To rest, and to restore


There is a time to act,
to do what we were born to do,
but there is no shame in taking time
to rest, and to restore;
to revel in the quiet between the dark and dawn.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Monday's to-do list


Monday morning, once again;
time to make another list 
of what we "otter" do...

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Just because you're different...


Last night we went to see a movie called Beatriz at Dinner. It showed a lot of promise: Salma Hayek looking unusually plain, John Lithgow in a more serious role (unusual for him) as an unscrupulous billionaire developer... We were even told Hayek's performance might just be Oscar-worthy. What could possibly go wrong?

But in reality, despite Lithgow and Hayek, the movie was pretty awful.  All the characters were stereotypical, none of them were likeable, none of them grew in their roles or appeared to learn anything from their interactions with one another, and there were WAY too many 70's-style interjections of fraught unintelligible mystical moments: rather like the callow and pretentious posturing of a third-year film studies major.

Not only did the movie reinforce all our prejudices about wealth and poverty and the victims of each, but it was also clear the writers had no idea how to end the film, any more than they had any idea how to help either characters or audience learn from the depicted events.

And yet -- there was this sense, just fleeting, that it could have been great; that the premise for the movie -- a humble Mexican massage therapist invited to dine with a ridiculously wealthy group of developers -- could have made a difference, could have offered a chance to cross that great divide. Which is, I suspect, why this image leaped out at me this morning; that sense that a situation becomes more interesting when you add a little variety, shake things up a bit. And so this poem, because I'm always optimistic that things COULD change, even when they don't.

Just because you are outnumbered,
just because you're different, or you don't fit in,
doesn't mean you don't belong.
Where you are is exactly where you're meant to be,
and what you add could surely be
exactly what is needed in this moment.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Everything contributes to the whole


We all know the phrase "No pain, no gain."
But the truth is bigger than that:
All our experiences, both good and bad,
add depth and richness to the glory that is to come.

Friday, July 28, 2017

A unique and shining light


There is, within each of us, a brightness,
a unique and shining light.
Hold it tenderly, and protect it,
as the clouds cradle the moon.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

True wealth


As I age, I realize more and more
that true wealth lies not in what we own,
but in what we've had the opportunity to experience.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Not thinking about compassion

My husband used to laugh and say
"Don't think about a yellow Volkswagen,"
and of course, that's the first thing I'd think of.
Don't think about a yellow boat, and there it is.
Don't think about your problems, and there they are.
Perhaps we should try not thinking about compassion...

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Be yourself


Just by being yourself,
you bring light and color into the world.

Monday, July 24, 2017

New patterns


When I sit still and allow the waves
of wisdom to brush up against me,
glorious new patterns of thought are born...

Sunday, July 23, 2017

On the nature of truth


Like human beings,
truth is far more complex than it appears.
What looks uniform from a distance
may prove, upon closer inspection,
to be riddled with faults and crevices:
don't believe everything you think.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Our mystical strength


Each of us has an inner super-hero,
a mystical strength we can use for good.
What's yours, and how will you share it today?

Friday, July 21, 2017

Seeking that quiet center


When I try to still my mind,
some part of me is always racing toward the future,
while some other part is leaning back into the past.
Help me to find the quiet center
that lies between the two.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

The flame of love


The flame of love may rise and set in our hearts,
but it is always there, coloring our thoughts,
and when they grow dark it circles round, ready to flare again.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Silent reminders


Even in death,
we leave our mark upon the landscape,
silent reminders of what was,
and what will be.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Make time to feed your soul



Take some time today to step outside: 
Whether you just sit and appreciate
Or take a walk on the wild side,
It's bound to feed your soul.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Time to break the cycle


There will always be circumstances beyond our control.
But the larger and more pervasive they become,
the more determined we are to control what things we can,
and the angrier we grow when those attempts are thwarted.
What will you do today to break that cycle?

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Enchanting invitation


You don't have to be bold to be beautiful.
Subtle colors and contrasting textures 
have a beauty all their own; their quiet charm
an enchanting invitation into mystery.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Illumination from within


Even as we reach for the light, let us not forget 
that we are also illuminated from within...

Friday, July 14, 2017

Longing as a function of distance


I learned this morning that the root of the word
longing is actually long, as in distance:
a craving for something that's far away: 
calm, when we're busy; connection, when we're separated; 
hope, when we are awash in despair;
action, when we feel trapped, disconnected or becalmed...
What, dear one, do you long for today?
And what steps might you take 
to lessen that uncomfortable distance?

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Morning light


Take a minute to stop, breathe, and greet the dawning day; 
rise a little earlier if you must. 
Bask in the wisdom of the morning sun;
find solace in the coolness of her shadows.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Revel in the gifts


The arc of life seems largely unpredictable:
though birth and death are given, 
much of what occurs in the years between
may come as a surprise: early promise unfulfilled,
or darkness blossoming into light...
and still we trust, and learn, and grow,
and revel in the gifts each new day brings.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Step away, step away


Summer offers a perfect excuse
to discover again the simple pleasures of childhood:
being with friends, splashing about in the waves,
reveling in the warmth of the sun...
Walk away from whatever electronic device
has you in its thrall and take some time to enjoy the day!

Monday, July 10, 2017

Resting our thoughts


Somehow our problems look smaller,
and their solutions a bit more obvious,
if we just take a little time to rest
our eyes and our thoughts...

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Ominous


When we start seeing the world in black and white --
"either you're with me or against me" --
even the simplest, gentlest scenes 
begin to seem more ominous...

Saturday, July 8, 2017

The promise of life to come


Why are we determined to contain and protect
something which has no apparent life?
Is it for the memories of what once was,
or the promise of life to come?

Friday, July 7, 2017

Refreshing innocence



In this dark world we refresh our souls
By gazing on the innocence of flowers.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Driven toward the light


Have you considered the possibility --
or do you remember --
that some of the darkest aspects 
of our experience and personality
are what propel us into the light?

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The complexity of the Natural World


"Age cannot wither her,
nor custom stale her infinite variety."
Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Happy Independence Day!


... and if, today, you're celebrating freedom,
what is it freedom from? 
And what is it the freedom to do?

Monday, July 3, 2017

The more we have


The more we have, the more we spend
protecting what we have...

Sunday, July 2, 2017

What color is your life today?


Some days 
you just need a little color in your life...