Saturday, November 29, 2014

Ending NaNoWriMo (The Poet's Way)

I did it! Tonight I realized I mis-numbered my NaNoWriMo poems and I actually finished the 30 poem of November this evening.

I think this is the first time I've committed and followed through with a writing challenge ever. Here are my stats (Unofficial):

Poetry Words: 5400
Poems: 30
Total words (with 3 blog posts): 8650

I have one more day. I might break 10,000 words before midnight tomorrow night. I can't believe how fast my word count went up!

I learned a few lessons:
  1. I have at least one experience a day worth writing about
  2. I can give up perfection. Not every poem even has to be perfect or share worthy
  3. Writers' block is in my head
  4. Once I start writing, it is not difficult to keep going
  5. Four to six word phrases are great starting points
  6. Following through was about being in partnership and supporting my writers' group
How are you challenging yourself? What keeps you from completing a challenge? What keeps you working toward a goal?

Friday, November 21, 2014

What Sundays are Made of...

I am fully aware that it is Friday night and not Sunday. I've come to look forward to the days where
there is no where to be and nothing to do. When is the last time you let the day wind around you without putting any expectation or plan into it?

Let tomorrow be that day--even if only for an hour. Step out of your head and lead with your senses. What does the day taste, smell, and feel like?

What Sundays are Made of
Sundays are long cat stretches
and a late morning breakfast of
warm and sweet oatmeal
with butter in the bottom of the bowl

Sundays are toys flung
to every corner of the house
and half painted canvases on easels
with forgotten painting water
knocked over by a space rover gone rouge

Sundays are warm towels just out the dryer
and the smooth slide of the iron
back and forth, back and forth
across the sheets
and clothes laying in drawers like soldiers

Sundays are PJs ‘til noon
cups of hot tea and tendrils of incense
climbing toward the dining room light
and playing board games at the table

Sundays are chilly walks to the bakery
for day old bread and oatmeal cookies
for blue jay sightings and dog petting
and feet dragging in leaf mountains

Sundays are skipping naps to rake leaves
in the mid-afternoon’s sun
and making leaf forts
before the evening frost settles in

Sundays are for too late movies
and fast food dinners
for finishing just one more chapter
in your favorite book

Sundays are ending the evening
with another poem, a cat curled along side,
and that last hot cuppa
with this morning’s tea bag

Friday, November 14, 2014

When a Tree Falls

I was at a workshop over the weekend. If you walk along the edge of the parking lot you notice this mass of tangled limbs. If you are like me, you follow to see where those limbs lead.

When was the last time you followed the branch of a tree?

The Father Tree
I didn’t see you the first time I drove by
nor the time I ate my lunch in the grass
two hundred yards away

I saw you when I was bouncing my way along
the curb in the parking lot
nearly oblivious to the annoyingly straight painted lines
meant to pack as many cars as possible into your once
densely treed sanctuary

No wonder after over one hundred years
of looking after the stream you cracked
and fell into that damn parking lot
I could see where someone chopped and
hacked your bits away, likely with a loud saw
temporarily sending the birds and squirrels away
You did your best to fall
in a direction to take that lot back

I couldn’t help but marvel at your strength
and the curves of your branches,
Even fallen, you were mighty and noble
still watching over the sanctuary of the river

I admired how your strongest branches
Supported your curiously hollow trunk
and left a bridge, daunting enough to discourage
the dainty and clumsy-footed
while inviting the curious tree climber

I followed your bridge up and over
down, around, through, and up again
I sat for a moment in the sturdy hollow.
Were I a tree dweller, I would have made
a home with the berries and fungi and mushrooms
softening what remained of your heart

I saw the splinters where you shattered--
the field of daggers still new and unworn
by the rain and winter cold
I climbed atop the hollow sending my own roots
down, down, down
asking you keep my feet sure
The fifteen foot drop would surely be unpleasant
I inched out across your broken back on my belly
I still felt the life moving within you.
I watched the river flow around the bend
I silenced my breath and slowed my fast-beating heart
to listen to the leaves fall in the water
and for the echoing ripples

When you can’t watch over your sanctuary, I will.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

The Poetry Answer to NaNoWriMo

It's National Novel Writing Month and I am not a novel writer. To support my novel writing friends, I write a poem a day for the month of November focusing on the season or on gratitude.

How do you support your friends, partners and loves in your circles?

I study the mess of string and hooks and bits
sitting in my lap
"It will take weeks to untangle it, Mom."
I smile and find an end

After a few hours
I get out my back up plan...
A needle from blanket
that I was to finish last year

I weave and move the strings
through one another
wondering how I will ever
loosen the mass of knots in the middle

Hour by hour my needle and I
find our way until there are only
straight strings and hooks
Three or four hours, not weeks.

You make them into
something amazing that
only a child would think to create
And I? I was your detangler.

Thursday, October 23, 2014


I know a handful of people who chose not to breathe anymore. Today I honor them and the choice each on of us has to live or to die.

Suicide is seen in many circles as a death so horrible it can't even be spoken of. In each of my experiences whether family members, friends, or a friend's family member, the same comments and questions come up following a suicide:

  • It can't be so.
  • Who's to blame?
  • Why?
  • What could have I done different?
  • Didn't he/she know how much we love her/him?
We don't get the answers and what I found for myself is that I was asking the wrong questions. How I've reconciled the intentional deaths of people I know is that they simply chose not to be here. Am I sad and is death sad? Yes. Absolutely. Did I morn and remember them? Yes. Did I berate or was I angry about their choice? No. Their work was finished and they were ready to move on. By their own hand, someone else's, or accident, the work was done and it was time to move on.

Waking up and breathing through the day is a choice. I can honor those choices without knowing the whys.

How do I recommend moving through someone else's personal death choice?

  • Don't take it so personally. It's not about you
  • Stop rubber-necking, it's not your party
  • Raise awareness, not tragedy
  • Respect choice--your choice and other people's choice
  • Hugs, sharing remembrances, and lots of tears

How you choose breath over death when you wake up each day? How do you honor the folks in your circles that chose the time of their deaths?


I woke up breathing this morning
Breathing is a choice, you know
I could chose to stop--
Stop pushing air in and out of these lungs
By my hand, by my will, this breath could stop

I woke in the darkness to dripping coughs
in the next room that set my teeth snapping hard together
when the light breaks I could leave that child
by the road to the foxes and the deer of the dawn.
He knows better than to wander out in to the road
or to talk to strangers.

I could stop being a mother right now.
It's always a choice, you know.
For today I choose to move air. I make dinner, check homework,
listen intently, and step on the missed Lego of death.

As long as a still chest and this child of heart
hold the tingling pre-tears in my cheeks,
I wake
with grinning breath,
teeth on edge,
eyes dressed in last night's escaped tears
knowing my work here is not complete.

I'll can choose again tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Awash in Possibility

If you don't have a week to be away, do you have a day, an hour or a minute? How do you reconnect and renew? A doodle, a deep breath, a short stroll on a path or sidewalk, a poem?

Allow yourself renewal time today to remember what is possible and what is precious.

Awash in Possibility

I held my breath
and listened to the waves
Some say breath pause is where
the sweetness
the focus
the possibility
the perfection
the life

Even holding my breath,
the waves still meet the beach
with no regard to the sand
holding me fast in the water
as it's scooped up by the next wave
and the next
and the next
and the next
and the next
and the next

What happens here?
Do I anchor deeper in the sand and hold steady?
Do I fight the pulling and sucking of unconscious waves?
Do I dive in and let a riptide carry me away?
Do I walk to the sand and sit so far away the waves will never touch me?

Breathe in
Breathe out
Breathe In
Breathe Out

No move. No decision.
What doesn't happen here?
What hasn't happened here?

Am I as unconscious as a wave or
is the wave as conscious as I?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

How to Fall

I've always been fascinated by the movement of the trees, especially being from a place that has so few. Living in a place of many trees has been an exploration of a new language. In Maryland there are so many different kinds of maples and oaks and trees who flower. As the fall comes on, I notice the change in the sounds the trees make. The sound of falling acorns. The sound of the leaves in the wind.

Today go outside and listen. Listen under the obvious sounds to what's happening underneath. What do you hear under the cars driving by? What do you hear under the cicadas? What do they say to you?

How to Fall
Acorns fall in a plunk
Black walnuts thump thump thump
The wind blows
A dry branch crashes through the lower canopy
A single leaf lands on the leaves left on the branches
scraping and rubbing against its brothers
until it finds it grace on the greening brown grasses

When you fall...

Do you plunk?
Do you thump?
Does a stiff wind move you to crash
and bounce against the soft ground?
Do you roll down slick, empty hills?
Do you buoy yourself up in the arms
of your sisters, your brothers, your friends, your lovers?
Do you put yourself at the mercy of the stream's eddies and swirls?
Do you fly and lilt in the lessons of the butterfly?
Do you fall far from home?
Do you fall in? Do you fall out?
Do you fall so hard you bring down the entire tree?
Do you give yourself to next year's growth ring?
Do you fall at all?

The trees know you fall where you may
And root like dandelions
when the plunks
grow silent.

If you bring down the tree, that's okay too.
She's already forgiven you.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

This Wild and Precious Life

Mary Oliver is one of my favorite poets. Yes, I have many, many favorite poets. As the humidity and heat sets in to the day, it seems appropriate to bring Mary forward here.

This is one of my favorite one liner from her poem Summer Day:
Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

Recently someone* asked me how I would answer that question. Now I ask you. What will you do with your one wild and precious life?

This Wild and Precious Life
Make messes and beauty
Feel 100 percent human
Begin again and again
End as many times or more 
Nestle in the belly of trees to listen for the water pouring down the rocks
Catch the acorns falling from the trees
Collect feathers
Pan the bay for sharks who lived millions of years ago
Hold those teeth in your hands
and swim across the oceans older than we could ever dream to be

Marvel at the heavy-headed sunflower until the rain breaks it stalk
Morn the loss of its beauty and
Leave the seeds for the ants and the worms
and watch how many seedlings appear in its place 
Celebrate the bees resting in the dew under the sunflower's umbrella 
Grow back into the babe 
who knew no difference between
breath, heart,
love, & death

*Thanks, Joe, for prompting me to contemplate what I am doing with this life.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Inside the Blackhole

I took this picture today.

At first glance, I was disappointed. The morning glory is too centered in the shot, the camera is more focused on the green in the background that the flower, the flower itself is blurry at the center and around the edges. The morning light is all wrong.

Then it grew on me. Look at the light coming out of the center. The light is ethereal. The five point star is perfect. The lighter lines divide the star in to perfect triangles. The edges of the flower are blurry making them almost 3-d.

Is this small flower what it's like to stand on the inside of a black hole and bask in glorious light? Is this how our angel and spirit guides see each one of us?

A poem is coming from this simple morning glory, and it is nothing like I intended.

This week take something you that you see as less than perfect and find its gifts. Where is its beauty? What does it look like on the inside? What does it look like on the outside? How is it messy? How is it clean?

Saturday, August 16, 2014


Sometimes I ponder
How we both stood on this cliff
You jumped.
and I stood at the edge,

I stand still
and stand
and stand

and jump

back two steps
reaching back to the hands
waiting behind me.

I'll come back to the edge
to stand
to ponder

I'll remember you jumped.
You were graceful and messy.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

I See You

The Jumping Bean and I have been at odds for the last several months. I didn't want to play the way JB wanted to play and he acted out. He offered to play in the ways I liked to play, and I still didn't want to play. So he acted out more and it ended with a trashed room, nearly broken windows, and more tears than I care to count. We have big emotions, this child and I, and we are both growing into them.

While we avoided open physical wounds, the long-term emotional hurt potential was deep. I was left with the question: How do we repair the damage and hurt we've done to one another? How to we reconnect?

In the former Transformative Leadership and Social Change program at the Maryland University of Integrative Health, we had a ritual that brought us fully present to each person in the room. It went something like this:

Speaker: Hello, I'm _______.
Class: I/We see you, ________.

We would go around the room in the is manner, calling one another present, whole, and complete.

This was also the secret to reconnecting with JB. I made him a book full of all of his gifts using adjectives that describe him and pictures that proved it. I started out to bring some healing and ease to JB. I didn't expect the profound way that creating this simple chronicle of JB's gifts, would reconnect me to him.

Who are you feeling disconnected from? What can you offer to remind that person and yourself of her gifts?

Do you know what my favorite book is? This one.--JB

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Let it be So

I am practiced at needing a resolution and talking about something that happens. I'll talk it to death. I've been invited into the possibility that we can just let something go and move on without a resolution. So I mutually agreed to do it, acknowledged my emotions and moved on. It worked. Just. Like. That.

This week consider what could you let go of completely. Now do it.

Let it be So

There was the thing that happened
"Must we talk and talk
and relive it over and over again?"
you say.
I sigh and wonder if it could be so.
We play and it was so
End. Begin and again.

Sunday, July 20, 2014


I've noticed
when something aches
rubbing it with my hands
eases the pain

It stands to reason
if my heart hurts
rubbing would
ease the pain.

How is it that
even the lightest touch
grates the heart raw
like course sandpaper?

So much for rubbing.
So much for reason.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Entropy & Change

Humans (and all manner of creatures) have this amazing ability to adapt. This week I contemplated the times I've made a choice and walked into a new situation confident, scared, and blind. These choices often came out of necessity--move or die.

This isn't the literal death. This is the death of spirit--when movement has stopped and entropy threatens the very existence of soul. This death seldom happens all at once and it nibbles away until you adapt and recover or stay in place where your loss shows only in the deepest, blackest place in your pupils.

I make major like changes when I'm facing an adapt or die time. This week I paint and I write. Consider how you be with the times when you must adapt or face the death of your spirit. What patterns do you see?

Death to Entropy

Fifteen years ago,
I got on a plane to San Antonio
What the hell was I thinking?

About six years ago,
I filled a 2nd generation Prius
full of $1000 worth of Ikea furniture
What the hell was I thinking?

Almost five years ago,
I filled up a 2nd generation Prius with toy trains
and drove it to a house on a court within walking distance
of two schools, a trail, a waterfall, and active train tracks
What the hell was I thinking?

Seventeen months ago,
I filled up my 3rd generation Prius with Legos
from my cubicle and an unconfirmed job offer
What the hell was I thinking?

Today and yesterday,
 I filled up a 3rd generation Prius
full of $800 worth of art supplies
(without spending that much at all)
What the hell am I thinking?

Some things don't change much, do they?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Thirty-Three Toads and a Feather

Take a familiar walk in the dark. What changes?

Thirty-Three Toads and a Feather

Walk at the cusp of dark in the rain
with lightening bugs flickering in the bushes
and the birds silent in awe of the lost sun

The splash and dash on the path
could be a trick of the falling light
until you see it eight more times
Relax your eyes into the dark

You'll see toad-stoned shadows
as if Medusa has wound her hair into the vines
and holds their toadly gaze

Toads know Loud Walkers can't see in the dark
Stand ready to scramble to the slick mud
when a size nine foot becomes an umbrella
A flat toad is no toad at all

You walk lightly to tickle a toad with a a white striped feather
At least one in thirty-three still hold Medusa's gaze
Fear or trust, Loud Walker?

Friday, July 4, 2014

Useful Things

JB continues to teach me what adventure and the power of naming is all about. This morning was an ordinary hot, sticky July morning, and we took a different path.
He found a blue and white marble and I had a few blissful minutes to sit and listen to the water and watch the sun play of the backs of water bugs

When was the last time you stepped out of routine or took a new path for the sake of adventure and exploration?

The Place of Useful Things

An unfamiliar path off a familiar trail
near the ceaseless up and down of The Mountain
Follow the party shards down to the stream
to The Place of Useful Things
White and red bricks some broken, some whole
Cinder blocks with invisible eyes
The Cyclops is no oddity
Squared cement embedded like conglomerates
stepping around slopes of smooth round granite stones

You hop from stone to stone
I sit on a wide flat round rock watching you bound away,
listening for the incessant woodpecker
and for squirrels running through the upper branches
You bend over and picked something up
as I call in the dragonflies
I fly with the soft green body on black double wings
We look like dizzy butterflies--that's dizzy times two

The sunlight follows the water bugs walking like Jesus
You cradle your prizes in your shirt when I call you back
talking to the dragonflies, bounding from rock to rock
I roll my eyes, wondering what junk you'd bring home
I am as delighted with the blue marble as you are to share it
We bring treasures home in the berry pint and
eat the berries as we pick them

The wind starts the standing leaf ovation
The trees applaud down the familiar path
The Place of Useful Things you call it
Yes, useful. Useful indeed.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Rumi Whispered to Me

Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi is one of my favorite poets. What I love about him is how he puts the spirit of the thing outside the context of religion. You can read more of Rumi's history on and read his poetry in both Farsi and English on

What poet speaks to you and what does he/she say?

Rumi Whispered to Me
Stand in the field
Love into the right and the wrong of it
Keep the tea kettle on and the water hot
Invite every unexpected guest inside
Let them pass back and forth across threshold
Again and again
and again

Knock on the doors of strangers
and listen to the shape their words.
Their souls live in there

Be drunk and love deeper
Love anger like a lover. She is your passion.
Hold on to your lover tighter then let her go
Burn for her
She'll come back again and again
and again

Pray reverently
Pray irreverently
Pray to the salts of the earth.
Pray to the rains on the heaven.
Pray to the wine you wish you had drunk
Pray to the wine you wish you hadn't tasted

Stumble drunkenly down the road
In the arms of friends
Holding is found in the spaces between you

Fly inside to the mystery
Ask the moon to rise.
Be confused and silent, my friend
Dress your spirit in gold
and your body in clothes

Light a candle. Go slow.
Watch how quickly it burns.
Ask for what you really want.
The mirror of yourself lie in the flame

That field there?
Let's meet and share a stranger's wine until dawn
and lie down in the green, green grass
to watch the sun rise and fall into the full moon
Let's lie down in the green, green grass
to watch the trees rise and fall
from flower to green to orange to yellow to brown
Let's lie down in the green, green grass
to watch the snow fall and rise around us

The destruction of the heavens will fall around us, lovers
Look up and be sober. The stars still stand

Sunday, April 6, 2014


When was the last time to trusted the universe to catch you?

This spring has been rough. Winter keeps coming to cover the daffodils and the daffodils keep raising their yellow heads to meet the sun. It's been like that for many of us.

I wondered if I could trust the spring to come this year. Now that I'm looking at full spring, I remember that the robins and the crows and the cardinals all trusted the spring to come. They sat straight up and sang through every storm. They trusted spring to come and sang it up to us.

Go outside and look around you this week. Where do you see trust?

When the crow spreads its wings,
he trusts the wind to hold him
When the he reaches his feet,
he trusts the tree to catch him

Put out your wings to fly
Spread your toes to land
Know the wind holds you
and the tree catches you