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

Meeting Up With The Villain

One of my favorite writing coaches is Steven Pressfield, author of War of Art. His Wednesday blog: Writing Wednesday is consistently worth my time. Today he writes about Elements of a Great Villain, both the external ones and the internal ones in great stories. “What qualities do these Hall of Fame antagonists have in common? They cannot be reasoned with (Okay, the Furies did have a bit of a soft spot). They cannot be appealed to on the basis of justice, fair play, or the idea of right and wrong. They are internally, relentlessly driven to achieve their ends. Nothing can stop them except … 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

Privileged with Time (to Write)

“We should never allow our fears or the expectations of others to set the frontiers of our destiny.” –John O’ Donahue’ from Anam Cara Each morning I use passages from favored books to inspire my meditation practice and to direct my attention throughout the day. This following passage is a great read and reminder to help us in this New Year, taken from John O’donahue’s Anam Cara: One of the Greatest Sins is the Unlived Life   In the Western tradition we were taught many things about the nature of negativity and the nature of sin, but we were never told that one of the greatest sins is the unlived life. … Continue reading