When a Bird Needs to Find Her Nest

I’m writing this because I need to take note. I need to remember and recognize the importance and significance of three signs in one day.

Pretty much everyone who knows me knows that I’ve been traveling quite a lot these last fifteen years or so. After a lifetime of living in one state–mostly in one county, even–I moved across the country… and then I didn’t stop moving!

Recently, after one and half years back in Santa Fe, I’ve been feeling that nagging sensation that it’s time to move again. Then, a month or so ago, I suddenly got very clear that the home I’ve been living in was not working for me. I just knew I needed to be in a different home. I just didn’t know where it would be.

A few days ago, the woman in whose casita I’d been staying told me that she wanted to fix up the house and prepare it for rental. I told her I’d be out within a week.  I was actually relieved to have made this decision and to have my move expedited, but I still wasn’t exactly sure where I’d go.  I came up with a tentative plan and then I scheduled a reading with an old friend to see if I could get some clear guidance from Spirit.

That reading was today.  But first let me tell you how the day started out. I had a dream.

There is a woman, a singer who is starting to become popular and successful.  (She reminds me of Jennifer Lopez.)  After a little bit of discussion with her girlfriend, she decides she is ready to take a big leap. She is going to buy an expensive home for her and her daughter. And she doesn’t even discuss it with her boyfriend, she just takes the leap.

The home costs about a million dollars. It doesn’t stand alone but is on the upper floor of a large building which holds many other residences.  Her place is on the corner. There are no walls or ceilings or inner fixtures of any kind. I realize this means she gets to design and create it exactly as she wants it.  But what I notice and really appreciate are the incredible views.  There is a beautiful meandering stream below, near the building. And outside what will surely be a great window, I see mountains not too far away, and I know that between the house and the mountains, lying beneath the fog and clouds, is an ocean.

I am so thrilled for her.  Three of my favorite things: streams, mountains, and ocean!

Because I know that most of the characters in a dream represent myself, I take this dream as a really good omen. I am becoming more successful and I will be able to create a wonderful home in a beautiful location.

Significant thing #2.  I am sitting outside at a table, relaxing in the morning sun, playing a word game on my phone.  I hear a buzzing and look around. It’s the first hummingbird of the year! She darts into the courtyard over the top of the gate, even though there are no flowers, trees, or bright colors in the courtyard!  She goes straight to the corner of one of the windows where there happens to be a cobweb.  She looks like she is pecking at the cobweb, and knowing that in addition to nectar, hummingbirds also eat insects and spiders, I assumed she was trying to eat something that was caught in the web. Then when she flew away, my guess was that she didn’t want to get caught in the web. (I had a dream once where a hummingbird was caught in a web.)  There is more to this story, but first I need to tell you about the reading.

Significant thing #3. I had my reading with Jean.  As sometimes happens, the image she received for me was not a very pleasant one. In fact it was extremely unpleasant. And, my resistance came up. But Jean gently persisted in explaining the image and working around my resistance.  Eventually we got to some of my questions and Jean said that they (the spirits) were suggesting that perhaps it would be good for me to set down some roots. I was again resistant.  I do, actually, very much want a cottage or casita of my own at some point. I can even picture it quite clearly. But I simply “have the feeling” that more travel is in my more immediate future. Jean acknowledged that I was “like a bird which loves freedom,” and, she wisely added, “Even an eagle needs a nest.”

Oh! That was the perfect thing to say!  At last I really understood.  I could travel, but it was important to have a home base, a nest.

Now, back to the hummingbird and the cobweb.  A new Facebook friend, Rahima, remarking upon my experience with the hummingbird today, said that hummingbirds use cobwebs for their nest!

Oh, oh, oh! That little comment lit up my heart!  I suddenly became aware that I had received three messages today about building, buying, or creating my own nest. And what’s especially fascinating, I think, is that I received messages about both the largest (house) and the tiniest (of nests.)  Maybe I’m meant to have both a big and a tiny home!

I’ve been dreaming about tiny houses for a few years. I keep fine-tuning and refining the details of the tiny home I want to live in and travel in. In fact, here is a sketch I did on April 18th of one inside scene of a tiny house of my dreams.


But I remain open to a magnificent home with astounding views as well.

May my perfect nest be built in this nesting season.

Memories of Mom

Mom young

Mom n Dad laughing  Mom, Atticus, me

On this Mother’s Day I thought it might be nice to reminisce about Mom.  And in the process, I will be singing the praises of mothers everywhere.

Mom loved her family.  She bore five kids, one of whom was born when she was 40.  She loved us all dearly.  When she was older, seeing any one of us was the highlight of her day.  If we were all together, she was in her glory.

She especially loved to see us when she didn’t have to cook.  Oh, how she loved to eat out!  (A trait I seem to have inherited from her.)  And can you blame her?  If I’m doing my math correctly, I’m estimating she prepared about 16,000 dinners in her lifetime, about 2700 Sunday morning breakfasts, and I can’t even imagine how many lunches she packed.  In addition, I’m guessing she baked well over 100 birthday cakes.  Then, while everyone else was reveling in time off from work or school, she prepared well over 200 beautiful holiday meals, most of which involved a couple days’ work of cleaning, preparation, baking, cooking, and cleanup.

Mom was a registered nurse.  In fact, that’s how she met Dad.  Her roommate became her best friend, and a year or so later, her roommate’s brother became her husband.! When Mom and Dad got married, Dad started building a house on the plot next door to his sister.  Mom got to live next door to her best friend, and we got to grow up with our cousins.  All in all, it was a good arrangement!

Mom was a nurse for a while, but once the babies started coming, she gave up a career to focus on us.

When we were young, she would wake us up for school, make sure we were dressed, clean, fed, and out the door in time to walk to school or catch the bus.  In the afternoon she made sure we did our homework and, at the proper time in the evening, she ushered us off to bed.  Sometimes she would softly rub our backs.  On other nights my sisters and I pestered her with “What shall I think about” questions.  (We were under the strange impression that unless we had something to think about, we wouldn’t be able to fall asleep.)

On summer days, when we were young, I have very fond memories of Mom walking the four of us siblings (Brian wasn’t born yet) next door to meet our cousins and aunt, and then taking a walk down Burnt House Hill Road. We chattered excitedly, picked wildflowers, and waded in the creek at the bottom of the hill.

I also remember us accompanying Mom on her errands.  Once or twice each week she went to the local butcher to buy lunch meat for our sandwiches, and chicken and hamburger for our week’s meals.  We would watch as the butcher deftly de-boned the chicken breasts with a thwack of his knife and the prying of his thumbs.  Or, if we got bored, we’d walk around the store, eyeing the potato chips and other goodies of interest.

Occasionally in the summer Mom would take us girls shopping and, for an extra special treat, (more for her than us, I’m sure), we’d sit at a booth at Grants and order a hamburger or grilled cheese with an icy soda.  (Sodas were not a common indulgence back then.)

In an effort to save money for her large family, Mom would sometimes sew matching Easter outfits for me and my two sisters.  I confess these were seldom my favorite outfits, but in retrospect, I respect the effort it took for her to make them.  Later, when I was in high school, she would pick up various articles of clothing for us from local thrift stores.  Of course they were never quite in accordance with my own taste, and I’m pretty sure I wasn’t sufficiently grateful.  Many years later, I would frequent thrift stores myself and feel ashamed of the attitude I had when Mom was simply trying to enlarge our wardrobes on a small budget.

Like many women, Mom provided unpaid labor not only in keeping the household running, but in helping Dad with his business.  She was the one who sent out invoices to his customers and she was the one who paid the bills.  All of this was largely unseen and unappreciated work.  It must have been frustrating for Mom to always be doing so much for everyone else.  I’m pretty sure she didn’t get thanked often enough for all her hard work.

I remember one day when I stayed late for after-school activities in high school.  I had arranged that morning for Mom to pick me up instead of taking the late bus home.  She was late, and I was embarrassed to be waiting so long there at the front of the school.  On this particular day I didn’t thank her for picking me up as I usually did, instead I complained about how late she was.  To my great surprise, she burst into tears.  Apparently Dad had called to ask if she could pick up some materials to bring to the job.  (Dad was a builder.)  Whatever it was that she had picked up–probably plywood or something to that effect–had been strapped to the top of the car.  Then, en route to the job site, it had fallen off.  Mom had had to struggle, extremely flustered, to get it back on, by herself.  (There were, of course, no cell phones back then.)  Then she had to rush to Dad to drop it off, rush to pick me up, and then, of course, she’d have to rush home to, once again, get dinner on the table in time.

I had picked a terrible day to be ungrateful.

One of the few people in our family who faithfully expressed gratitude to my mother was my paternal grandfather.  Every Thanksgiving and Christmas, when ten or more of us would sit down at the table to eat the lavish feast that Mom had prepared, Grandpop would remind us of how much time and effort it had taken her to place all this food before us.  He said that after hours and hours of cooking, it would be a sin to gobble it up in just a few minutes.  He would then eat very slowly, savoring every mouthful, stopping now and then to compliment Mom.

Grandpop knew how to do gratitude.

When I was in my thirties, I had to face the sad fact that I was going to be getting a divorce.  I found myself really nervous about telling Mom.  But yet again, Mom surprised me.  She totally took it all in stride.  I asked her about it one day.  I said, “I thought you’d be angry or disappointed.”  She said something to the effect, “I just want you to be happy.”  Mom, you got a big gold star that day!!

When Dad was about 70-years-old, he had been invited to do a job in Europe.  For some reason, Mom had not been invited along.  Later she told me that she would have loved to have gone.  It was only then that I began to have an inkling that Mom had had many dreams that had gone unfulfilled.

Another unfulfilled desire was that she always wanted to redecorate the house. But Dad didn’t think this was a wise use of the family’s money, and so we seldom had new furniture.  Sometimes Mom would get new curtains or a new framed picture–something to help brighten up our living room.  But I strongly suspect that she gazed with envy at the homes of many of her friends who had wonderful taste and less frugal husbands.

Mom, I wish you could have known, deep in your heart, that though our home wasn’t always fit for House Beautiful, the more important thing was that it was always filled with love and laughter.  People of all ages loved to come visit us.  Our home was a happy place.  People could feel the love.

Thank you for creating such a wonderful home for us to grow up in.  Thank you for always loving us, no matter what.  Thank you for all your many sacrifices.  Thank you for your beautiful soul.  I was blessed–we were all blessed–to have you as a mother.







A Day in Dunsmuir

(Text and all photos by Cynthia Greb)
Dunsmuir is this quaint little town in the metaphoric shadow of majestic Mt. Shasta in northern California.  The more well-known towns at the base of the mountain are Mt. Shasta (city) and Weed, named after a lumberman.  McCloud is another sweet Shasta town. But I really love Dunsmuir ten miles to the south.

With a population of only 1500, Dunsmuir definitely qualifies as a small town, but it’s very accessible as it is situated adjacent to Route 5 (the interstate that runs from the southern tip of California up through southern Oregon) and it is also home to one of the few Amtrak stations in the region.

As a river valley town on the outskirts of Mt. Shasta, both the beautiful forested slopes that surround it and the beautiful river that flows through it are omnipresent.  And streets with a north-south orientation will often have a view of snow-capped Mt. Shasta.


The above is what it looked like as I was approaching Dunsmuir.

Dunsmuir dubs itself  “Home of the best water on Earth” and in 2014, water bottled from Dunsmuir springs did indeed win best tasting water in an international competition against entries from such places as New Zealand, Tanzania, China, Greece and Colorado. (Colorado and Greece tied for second place.)  http://www.mtshastanews.com/article/20140227/NEWS/140229645

I love pure, great tasting water.  It’s an increasingly rare commodity in this world.  And it’s only one of the great things about Dunsmuir.  Here are a few others:

“A River Runs through It.”  The beautiful Sacramento River, born from inside sacred Mt. Shasta, runs right through Dunsmuir.   In fact, it is said that the water travels through the lava tubes of the volcano (yes, Mt. Shasta is a volcano) for fifty years.  Quite a filtering system!  The upper Sacramento is a clear, gorgeous, often fast-running stream and is an ideal habitat for trout. Fisherman flock to Dunsmuir, but locals love to fish, too.  golden vertical

20180604_131143-1-1-1 (1)

This latter photo was taken through the dirty windshield of my car as I was driving on an extremely narrow serpentine road which ran along one section of the river.  On the one hand, it was an idyllic scene watching this man teach the little boy how to fish. (The idyll was marred only slightly by the woman fixated on her phone.)  On the other hand, I felt somewhat terrified that a fast-moving car could hit any or all of them.

Waterfalls.  There are a couple waterfalls in the Dunsmuir area, but Mossbrae Waterfalls are my favorite.  They are gorgeous springfed rivulets of water falling in a hundred places through the ferns and mosses of the verdant canyon directly into the Sacramento (which feels more like a shallow stream at this point.)  The visible waterfalls are about 50’ in height, but the width of the accumulated falls is about 150’. My first time there took my breath away; it felt so magical, like a fairyland. Currently it is very difficult to get to, requiring a long hike along active railroad tracks, which can be a little frightening at times.  But the good news is this challenging route cuts down on the numbers of people there at any given time.


vertics l


(Unfortunately, my little phone camera was unable to capture the vibrancy of the incredible green color that pervaded the space.  So, imagine much, much brighter emerald greens.)

Roses galore!  Because Dunsmuir is well over 1000′ lower in elevation than the town of Mt. Shasta, it is warmer and flowers bloom in abundance.  I especially love all the roses. There are so many!  Whenever this East Coast girl makes her way to this little town, her spirits lift.  It’s so exhilarating to stop and smell the roses!


Here is an interesting aside for those who are interested in esoterica.  Roses are associated with both Mother Mary and the planet Venus. (No accident then that roses are also associated with Love!)  In recent years, astronomers discovered, via computer, the exquisite rose-like mandala that Venus forms over an eight-year period in sidereal space. (It’s hard to explain.  Go to the following website.) http://www.skyscript.co.uk/venusrose.html

On this particular day trip to Dunsmuir, I did the following:

  1. Ate at one of Dunsmuir’s lovely cafes.  For such a small town, there are quite a few eating establishments.  My favorites are The Wheelhouse, outside of which the rushing water of the Sacramento on the other side of the railroad tracks can be heard, and The Cornerstone Bakery, right on the main street (on which there never seems to be too much traffic.)  Both offer excellent food with vegetarian and gluten-free options.  There is both indoor and outdoor seating at both. At the Wheelhouse, one can sit inside at large old wooden tables with scores of games on nearby shelves from which one can choose to play if so inclined.
  2. Sat alongside the river, which is more like a crystal clear mountain brook at this point.  Beautiful! On this particular day in early June, the sweet peas were in bloom.  Lovely. I sat beneath a tree and greeted the river, trees, flowers, sky, earth, and air.  I sent out blessings to the water. It didn’t take long to begin to feel the euphoria of such peace and beauty.  As many of you know, waterfalls and oceans are rife with negative ions which enhance well-being, relieve depression, boost the immune system, and elevate one’s mood.  Even medical doctors tout the benefits of negative ions: https://www.webmd.com/balance/features/negative-ions-create-positive-vibes#120180604_124647
  3. Picked up a hitchhiker.  On the way back home to my current residence near iconic Black Butte, I found myself pulling onto the shoulder of Route 5 to pick up a young man walking with a huge backpack and a little dog.  (In retrospect, it wasn’t the safest place to pick up a hitchhiker.) The guy’s name was Pan. This was his given name! Pan just happens to be my favorite Greek god. If Pan is the ‘god of mountain wilds,” then surely he must abide in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest.  Pan (the hitchhiker, not the god) had a cute dog named Tinkerbell. They were hitching their way up to Oregon for the Rainbow gathering.



All in all, it was a lovely day.  I most heartily recommend Dunsmuir in early June!

Following Our Inner Guidance System

I have noticed I’ve been getting somewhat better at recognizing guidance for the larger issues in my life, but I still sometimes miss the smaller intuitive nudges that come my way.  I had written about this very subject two years ago, and it appears I still have so much more to learn.

I am beginning to realize that these nudges do happen.  They happened four times in the last two days, and I didn’t recognize or honor one of them!  They were quick little thoughts I had and then just as quickly discarded.  I didn’t recognize them as my Internal Guidance System!  They seemed so subtle.  I just didn’t realize how important these thoughts were.

So, here are some examples.  The first couple were not about anything life-altering; they simply would have made my life a little easier had I listened.  But the third and fourth ones!  Why, oh why, did I not listen???

  1. I was going with my sister out to do an errand or two.  I had the thought to bring my sneakers and the book I was reading.  I discarded both thoughts because I rationalized I was going to be with her and I wouldn’t have time to read a book or take a walk.  Well, as it happened, we passed an art fair in town.  If I’d had my sneakers, we could have enjoyed the art fair.  And then when she went into the pharmacy to collect a prescription, she was there quite a while.  I could have been reading my book.  (See?  Nothing earth-shattering.  Just simple guidance.)
  2. I went to the grocery store and one of the items I picked up was a carton of eggs.  I was going to check to see if any of the eggs were cracked—in fact my hand was on the carton ready to open it, but it was one of those overlapping plastic things and it felt like “too much work” to open two flaps.  (Ridiculous, I know.)  I thought, Oh, if there happens to be one cracked egg, no big deal.  Well, when I got home I went to put some eggs in a pan to hard boil them for egg salad and, guess what, two eggs were missing from the carton!
  3. I went to the bank to make a deposit.  While in my car, I got out my phone to call my brother-in-law to remind him to take out the giblets before he put the turkey in the oven.  But when I went to make the call, it wasn’t going through; it just wasn’t working.  I had the urge to call and I didn’t extend the extra effort to find a way to get through rationalizing that I’d be home within half an hour or so anyway.
  4. After the bank I had the thought to run home to my sister’s house before going on to the grocery store for some items we needed for dinner that night.  But I discarded the idea thinking that I could probably finish the errand and be home within half an hour.

So, why was it important that I listen to my inner guidance?  While I was sitting in the car at the bank, my brother-in-law was lying on the floor with a fractured hip.  If I had called and gotten no answer, I probably would have stopped home before going to get the groceries and I would have seen him and could then have called the EMTs that much sooner.  As it turned out, my brother-in-law was lying on the floor in great pain for about an hour before my sister arrived home, rushing in the door, heart in her throat, because he hadn’t been answering any of her calls.

So, the upshot is this.  I’m guessing we all get these little thoughts all the time.  And many times we probably just rationalize them away.  But we have this Inner Guidance System for a reason, as I hope the above illustrates.

Sometimes our inner self (or whatever Force or Being puts those thoughts in our head) is wiser than we realize.  We just need to listen better.


Note: This was originally published on my website (www.cynthiagreb.com) in April 2016.

The Spiritual Lessons of Politics

I seldom talk about politics publicly.  I’m uncomfortable with how antagonistic and “us vs. them” we tend to get.  Political sparring, which can get quite vile, doesn’t fit in with my vision of the peaceful world I want us to co-create.  And while I very much want “good” people in public office who will be kind, smart, and wise (oh how idealistic I am!), I don’t enjoy fueling the fires of hatred and fear as the subject of politics is wont to do.

A week or so ago a friend voiced an opinion on Facebook about a candidate whom she favored. One of her friends commented on her opinion in a way that I didn’t perceive as particularly nasty, and my friend (for whom I had previously had a lot of respect), rapidly spiraled down into some incredibly nasty name-calling.  And they were both in the same political party!  If there is going to be such odious behavior even within parties, then how can we ever hope to achieve a modicum of civility between parties?!

How can we learn to be more respectful to those with differing opinions?  I wish we could remember that we are all human beings who basically want the same things; we just have very, very different ideas of how to get there.  I think people react with such extreme emotions because they are, beneath it all, quite simply, afraid.  They are afraid that such and such a candidate will ruin their chances of stability or financial comfort or peace or whatever.

I confess that my default setting is not political, but spiritual.  And so I tend to think in terms of spiritual growth and evolution.  In that vein, my fellow citizens, here is our growing edge.  Can we learn to be more civil with one another?  Can we learn that the venom with which we treat one another ripples out into the world in ways we cannot begin to imagine?  If we all want, deep down, to live in a more peaceful world (and I believe we all do — except possibly the arms dealers), then we need to learn to model more peaceful behavior.  We cannot hope to ever see a more harmonious world if we cannot learn to control our hostility within our own interpersonal interactions. And that includes our posts on Facebook and other social media.

Among my peers, there is one candidate whose words and actions many of us find abhorrent.  Truth to tell, it is very tempting at times to ridicule him; and many, many of my friends fall prey to that temptation.   Well, here is another HUGE spiritual lesson.  It’s a really, really, really hard one, but once achieved, it is absolutely transformational.  Can we learn to (bear with me) … hate the sin and love the sinner?

I know, I know.  The very thought of loving someone who is so unlovable is hard to swallow.  It’s like asking you to love Hitler or Stalin.  And yet, even the most vile and evil among us were once children.  Something happened to them somewhere along the way and they… swerved.  My guess is these villains act in such extreme ways because, deep down, they are afraid.  They cover up that fear with megalomania and narcissism and acts of inhumanity and horror.  But that doesn’t mean we should be as vile as they.  It does, of COURSE, mean we shouldn’t vote for them.  And we can do whatever is necessary to prevent them from getting into political office.  I’m just saying, can we do it in a more civilized manner without sinking to their own abhorrent behavior?

There is one candidate who tries really hard to not resort to name-calling and mud-slinging.  I respect him enormously for that.  What a role model.  Can we learn to espouse our views passionately without being vicious and obnoxious?

I, for one, would like us to try.


The Labor of Death

Unless there’s a sudden trauma,

dying is labor.  It’s clearly labor.

The breathing becomes more rapid,

almost a panting.

However, instead of laboring to enter this world

from the comfortable confines of the womb,

there is the labor to exit this world.

There is a struggle as the self gradually allows the soul to separate

from the familiar womb of the body.

Except the body is not a womb,

it is more like a cage

or a very heavy coat

encasing a soul whose nature it is to fly.

But we forget that.

We cling to the body because it’s all we know.

It’s all we’ve known our whole life long.

We forget.

We forget what it was like before we slipped into the womb

to begin this life.

If only we could remember.

If only we could remember

how very different dying would be.


~ Cynthia Greb, 2016


Beauty and Loss All Commingled

Today I spent two hours with my ailing mother instead of the usual four to six.  And as I indulged in the sacredness of time alone, I discovered myself sinking deeper into my “feeling body.”  Once again, I discovered that being too busy is anathema to the soulful existential questions and emotions I need to let bubble to the surface once in a while.

Mom’s health is declining.  It hasn’t been that stellar for quite a few years, but now her body is starting to fail in ways that are no longer remediable.   I found myself wondering how conscious she is of her decline and when is the right time to discuss it all.

My mother has suffered from mood swings and a fair amount of depression these last several years.  Even when she was living in her own home, surrounded by her loving (albeit increasingly demented) husband, excellent and compassionate caregivers, and a regular rotation of visiting children and grandchildren, she frequently found reasons (not always easily discerned by us) to dissolve into tears.  Being in a nursing home the last year and a half has not resolved her feelings of depression.

Fortunately, when I inquired recently of the RN on duty about the possibility of an anti-depressant, it was subsequently approved by the facility physician.  I am not someone who ordinarily believes in indiscriminate pharmaceutical solutions, but her crying jags were disconcerting and I simply wanted her to feel better.  (And Mom was, in no way, open to therapy.)

So the question of the hour is:  do I open the can of worms that end-of-life discussions precipitate?  Or shall I let her “feel good” for a little bit longer?

Unlike Dad, who embraced the idea of heaven and, though he loved life, looked forward to “going home,” Mom has only ever talked about death when she was unhappy with her life.  I find myself hesitating to talk about something that will likely send her back into a downward spiral.

On the other hand, as someone who worked for two different hospices, I know how vitally important it is to have the opportunity to talk about these matters and to work through all the myriad emotions which certainly arise.

And so, I pray for guidance to know when the time is right.

Meanwhile, after leaving the nursing home earlier today and finishing a couple errands, I arrived home and dressed for a walk in the cool October air.   As I ambled down the road, I was struck over and over again by sights so achingly beautiful, I found myself invoking God’s name in whispered awe.

The trees are aflame with color this year—golden yellows, vibrant oranges, corals, and scarlets.  Breathtaking and heart-opening beauty is everywhere.  Even the skeletal remains of Queen Anne’s lace and the dark petal-less heads of black-eyed Susans are beautiful.

In addition to the splendors of autumn, there are lingering roses, hibiscus blooms, and purple clovers—splashes of summer in the midst of dying grasses and fallen leaves.  Life and death are all mixed together in this seasonal transition.

As I walked I found myself feeling the grief of Dad’s absence in my life.  Like me, he loved nature.  We would have had some fine walks together this year had he still been alive.  But I know we are both immersed in beauty and love—he where he is and I where I am.  And Mom, too, though she is not as skilled at recognizing it or appreciating it.  Then again, her childhood was not as special as that of Dad or me and my siblings.  When she was little she was abandoned by those who brought her into the world, and so abandonment is often her default emotional setting (even now, over seventy-five years later.)

Beauty and Pain.  Life and Death.  Love and Loss.  It’s all here.  We are surrounded by it all.

As my wise friend Kristy recently said, “Some things in life cannot be fixed. They can only be carried.”*

May I carry it all with grace.




The Next Season

This is day #6 of being with parent #2 as she makes her slow exit from this life.

It’s been an important and exhausting time.  I am so grateful to be here with her, the woman who gave me birth.   And, as anyone who has maintained a long vigil with someone who is very ill knows, it’s a challenging road.

Today I was feeling very low energy.  I was tired, sad, overwhelmed.  Are these the correct words?  I don’t even know that I can accurately categorize how I was feeling.  I only know that I was depleted.

Fortunately other family members were going to be spending time with my mother this morning, so it gave me the opportunity to indulge in some alone time.  I am one of those people who needs a lot of time by myself, and I hadn’t had much solitude this week.

I walked to the side of my brother’s property and down the long leaf-strewn path toward the edge of a beautiful stream.  I found a rock in a pocket of sun and sat myself down upon it.  And that’s all I did.

I didn’t have the energy for anything else.  I didn’t pray; I didn’t prod myself to change or shift or buck up; I didn’t try to figure anything out.  I just sat.

I felt weighted.  I felt listless.  My spark was gone.

I just sat.

Gradually, eventually, the world began to work its magic on me.   After maybe ten or twenty minutes, I had the energy to lift my head.  I noticed more trees had changed color since the last time I’d walked to this particular spot.  There was one tree with beautiful bright coral-colored leaves.  And the sky was a beautiful cloudless blue.

I began to notice leaves dancing through the air, letting go of the trees onto which they had held themselves for many months, and spiraling toward the creek which gently carried them downstream.

I became somewhat conscious of the beautiful metaphor unfolding around me, but mostly I became aware that my energy was ever so slightly beginning to rise.

The world is a beautiful place.   When I’m sad or tired, it’s harder to focus on the beauty.  But it’s there, just waiting to uplift me whenever I take the time to immerse myself in it.

Can I help my mother release her grasp on this beautiful life so she can embrace the next even more beautiful one?  I don’t know.  That is my prayer.  My prayer is that she be at peace with the change of the seasons.  Not just spring and summer, but fall and winter, too.

We cannot stop the wheel from turning.

And there is no end in a wheel.  There is only the next season.

October 2013 583


Releasing the Old, Welcoming the New

Hello friends,

Those of you who know me know I love living in this wonderful small Colorado community in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.  So perhaps you will be surprised to hear that I’ve been getting guidance that I am supposed to move.

At first I wasn’t clear whether I was  supposed to simply move out of the home where I’d been living or whether I was supposed to leave Crestone.  So I made plans to do the first while endeavoring to get clear on the latter.  Soon the guidance got very clear.  I am being strongly called to move to Mt. Shasta.

Mt. Shasta is in northern California and it’s another relatively small town.  It, too, is known for its sacred mountain.  It, too, is a highly spiritual place of great beauty.

I am learning to trust that when I’m guided somewhere it’s usually because I have something to learn, people to meet, and gifts to offer.  I am sensing that this upcoming phase of my life will be exceedingly rich.  It feels like really good stuff is on the horizon.

So, right now I’m in that interesting place of preparing for what’s ahead while beginning to say goodbye to the place and people I have come to love and simultaneously trying to stay as present in the moment as possible.

I don’t yet know the exact timeline for this move.  I’ve been getting direction saying “Go now!”  I’ve been telling the Universe that I have a few more commitments to honor here first but that if a place to live and some work can be lined up, I am ready and willing to go.

So, to all my Crestonian friends, I send you love.  It has been a great blessing getting to know you all.  I’ll be around for at least another month and a half to revel in the magic that is Crestone.

Meanwhile, if any of you all have good friends or contacts in Mt. Shasta, I’d be grateful if you could pass them along to me.

The adventure continues….


The Art of Doing Nothing

I am self-employed.  Like many self-employed people, I have a couple part-time jobs to keep things flowing when I’m not writing or painting.  Today is one of those wonderful days when no other jobs or responsibilities are pulling at me.  My schedule is blessedly free.

I have been looking forward to a day like this so that I can get caught up—on revising my book, painting a new painting, making some necessary phone calls, etc.  There’s quite a list.  And yet I find myself completely uninspired.

I finally took myself outside to the deck for a couple minutes.  I journaled about how I was feeling.  Do I analyze my resistance?  Push through it?  Or do I honor it?

My energy was so low that I decided to simply honor this resistance and not do anything at all.

What a concept!  How often do we, in this often very frenzied culture, allow ourselves to do nothing?

I sat in a deck chair, resting my feet on a rail, one foot propped on another.  And I didn’t do anything.

I did casually notice the lovely trees surrounding me.  I noticed the blue sky and the warm sun.  I was aware of the sound of the stream softly flowing about a hundred yards away.  But other than that, I did nothing.  I was in a total yin place.  My yang had gone on vacation.

It was blissful.

I used to live about an hour and a half away from the shore.  Like many of my friends and neighbors, I would visit the shore a couple times a year.  There is absolutely nothing so relaxing as lying on a large towel on the beach, the sun shining down upon you, and the sounds of the surf rocking you to sleep.

Well, now I live a little over a thousand miles away from the nearest shore.  It’s not quite so easy to just jump in a car and get to the nearest sea.  But I discovered today that sitting out on the deck is actually pretty darn nice.

I can wear whatever I want (or don’t want, as the case may be), have a glass of whatever I want by my side,  and let the rays of the sun caress my body. Then, if I get too hot, I can simply move into the shade.

Suffice it to say, “doing nothing” necessitates me leaving the cell phone inside.  Far away.

This is what our dogs and cats do all the time.  Not to mention lizards, snakes, lions, and other animals.  Why do we humans feel we don’t deserve the same consideration?  Why do we only let ourselves do this relaxing thing if we’re on vacation or retired or at the end of a very busy day?  (And many of us have trouble doing it even then!)

I suspect I sat outside for only about half an hour.  But it restored and revived me.  (Look!  I found the inspiration to write!)

One night, about fifteen years ago, I had an incredible dream.  In this dream my body was guided to wherever it needed to go and whatever it needed to do.  I didn’t have to consciously make decisions, I had only to wait until the guidance kicked in.

It was an exquisite dream.  When I was coming to wakefulness I found myself worrying that I’d never be able to sustain that sweet feeling.  But it turned out, for at least that one morning, I could.  I simply allowed myself to do or not do whatever my body did or did not want to do.  And it was a delicious feeling.

Of course I know that many of us do not have this luxury much of the time.  But the truth is we could allow ourselves the luxury of doing nothing more often if we chose.  We don’t have to make ourselves a slave to “getting things done” all the time, every hour of the day.  We could allow ourselves more time on the deck, the sofa, a hammock, or the bed if we chose.

And if our current lifestyle and schedule do not allow for this kind of relaxation, might it not be time for a little restructuring?

Blessed be, everyone.  Enjoy some totally non-productive time  today “just being.”  You are enough.