Discover What Is Truly Possible

My father was a traveling salesman throughout most of my childhood. He sold packaging products to small local cheese factories throughout Wisconsin and the Midwest. This was a face-to-face affair. There were no scams or virtual exchanges in the mix. And he loved the sale. The “wealth” for him was in making the contact and in a successful sale. He did well and at some point expanded into his own company where he had others working for him. Even then he kept traveling to sell his products face-to-face. This made him a weekend father at best, which was typical back then for many working parents. My … Continue reading

A Call To Action (And the Democracy of Love)

“Want some fries with that? Buddhist teachings reveal how distraction from the moment, and the reality of the moment, leads to confusion, apathy and misinterpretation of reality. But too many pasttimes are just that – built in to distract us. One of the great distractions is television, now extended to the screens of our computers and phones. Advertisements brag how we can watch our favorite shows any where, any time. Why wait in line in silence, or in conversation with those around you, when you can watch the little screen on your phone? I remember when going on a road trip meant we … Continue reading

FREEDOM Right In On Time

It’s freedom we truly want. And fear. Freedom from attachment, freedom from anxiety, freedom from bad relationships, freedom from our habitual and negative states. We want freedom to create, to love, to speak up, and to be ourselves. We were born free. Yet, dependent. Those who raised us either trained us toward freedom or toward an increased dependency on establishing our worth and self-hood on outward validation. We all experience suffering; this is the core teachings of the Buddha: We suffer but there is freedom from suffering. (The Four Noble Truths). We have the capacity to bring forth lasting states … Continue reading

What You See Is What You Get

“The way you look at things is the most powerful force in shaping your life. In a vital sense, perception is reality.”  John O’donahue, Anam Cara We writers and spiritual pilgrims are world builders, shape shifters; we make heroes, and, we identify and fight villains. We can be the hero in our own lives and stories. We discover personal truth where ever we are courageous enough to explore; we can consider any possibility. We can risk everything or risk nothing. Over the past few weeks I have heard a certain reference multiple times: We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are … Continue reading

The Two Wells

How Everything Has A Place I take my blind dog out under the white and pink blossomed apple tree to brush her. She groans as hair falls from her old body into soft golden piles in the greening spring grass. Just moments before how I worried about where I would be a season from now. Where might I live and who will share my days? She rolls around, such a happy dog Her golden hair remains behind an invitation to the birds now collecting in the trees take me use me to build your nest. I don’t enjoy worrying or obsessing about what … Continue reading

Here, Take This Gift

For life to happen we have to receive the first breath. For life to continue we have to receive the abundance of light, nourishment, love and care offered us. If we don’t know how to receive, we will starve. When we are not receptive, we become like Hungry Ghosts. These are the creatures from a Bardo state, where ghosts have small mouths, so little nourishment gets in and the food just falls through their phantom bodies. As a result they are always hungry. Parker J. Palmer refers to this state of chronic hunger as the “Empty Self Syndrome.” We may even win the presidency … Continue reading

Don’t Spare Yourself

Okay, so… I’m still taking violin lessons. Along with my violin lessons I discovered another life lesson, as well as a good lesson for writers. If I want to learn how to play the violin, I have to be willing to play poorly. Like I remind my writing students all the time — be willing to write several shitty drafts before the story works, before you “sound” pleasing.  The enjoyment found in writing several shitty drafts, as well as playing crude on the violin, is indispensable to progress in both. I delight in holding an idea and seeing how it comes out on the page. I enjoy holding the violin and … Continue reading

Violin Lessons for the Writer

I am taking violin lessons because (well, I confess I don’t know all my reasons). Someone recently asked me why I have a few strands of red hair. A story comes to mind: the gist of this story is that we must seek enlightenment like a woman with her hair on fire seeks the pond. But as I got my hair cut a month ago I simply felt like getting a strand of red added. Call it a nudge. Same with violin lessons really: I felt this internal nudge. I trusted these nudges enough to explore them. So here I am taking lessons from … Continue reading

My Valentines to You, Love Julie

Accidents   She said, “There are no accidents.” I didn’t know how this could be true. how can everything hold meaning? dark accidents made beneath shadows, discovery of a dead chickadee under the apple tree, red-blooded accidents of visitors from the past, wine spilling, i didn’t mean to say that, in that way, it was just an accident, golden accidents of passion, down by the horse barn out of sight, a secret is discovered, the timing of your visit, what filled the emptiness when you were gone, the rippling accident of water splashing over the edges of the bowl that I carry to put out the fire. … Continue reading

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