US: Exceptional but not The Exception

“We may be exceptional, but we are not exceptions.” This above insight was shared with me recently by a friend. At the time I felt I was having an exceptional experience. And it was. Exceptional. But this in no way made me, or others involved exceptions. What does this mean? It means we are not special in a way that sets us apart from others or the natural world. We are all bound by natural (nature’s) laws, and ideally, we are internally directed by ethical boundaries and spiritual principles that remind us of this interconnectedness. Whatever this exceptional experience is—some … Continue reading

During Such Times, What Matters?

Many of my writerly friends and students have contacted me recently discouraged and confused. What does any of “this” matter?, they ask. “Who cares what I write about?” Besides, they claim, “my story is not unique.” Let me respond first with a personal story. I found myself looking in the mirror lately with dismay. I see an old woman.  At the core of me I know a truth: that I am aging, and that I am doing a fine job of it. With the awareness that all judgment involves projection I looked around me. What do I see when I look at others? Do … Continue reading

Writing as Distraction

I had hoped that writing could be a distraction from missing my daughter. If wishes were fishes! “If wishes were horses then beggars would ride, If turnips were swords I’d have one by my side. If ‘ifs’ and ‘ands’ were pots and pans There would be no need for tinker’s hands!” So I tinker. I find, as all writers do, that writing takes us into our lives, our stories. Writing explores our possibilities, where we can become “intelligent tinkerers.” We tinker with an idea or an experience until something fruitful results. But we must not give up on our tinkering . … Continue reading

Make Your Own Bible

Writing, above all, is seeing clearly. Peter Mathiessen, Letters from the Wild Since the age of sixteen I have relied on spiritual journaling and the I Ching to navigate the ups and downs of my life. Spiritual journaling uses journaling and personal inquiry to investigate our life circumstances, deepen our spiritual practices, increase our awareness, and open up to our creativity. Self inquiry through journaling is a method used for thousands of years and is recommended as part of the treatment for depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and self-abuse (cutting). Many remarkable books, such as A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold, come from a journal. Journaling accesses the inner teacher … Continue reading

Healing Heartbreak (and . . . Can This Democracy Be Saved?)

In a dark time, the eye begins to see. —Theodore Roethke, “In a Dark Time” For decades, I have relied on Parker J. Palmer as a guide and mentor. He is an author, educator, and activist whose work focuses on the issues of education, community, leadership, spirituality, and social change. In Healing the Heart of Democracy: The Courage to Create a Politics Worthy of the Human Spirit (now in paperback!) he starts with: “I began this book in a season of heartbreak—personal and political heartbreak—that soon descended into a dark night of the soul.” This is particularly meaningful to me right … Continue reading

Living With Difficulty in Meaningful Ways

If we can learn how to live with difficulty in meaningful ways, our lives will move forward in a purposeful way. Since the only thing we have any control over is our own experience, the more we understand how to live creatively with whatever arises, the happier we will be. Worry and anger won’t change the outcome, and possessiveness doesn’t make anything permanent. Unfortunately, we have been trained to worry about the future, to fight with difficulty, and to try and manipulate outside circumstances. We are sold on the big lie that outside circumstances and “results” determine our happiness. When … Continue reading