Monday, May 22, 2017

An incomplete thank you for the miracles of the world

Morning in Mexico
On this day as I begin my second year of gratitude practice, I give thanks for where I am and where Ive been and hope this poem makes up for some of the moments of gratitude Ive missed along the way.

for all the people I never thanked:

the authors, teachers, artists, carpenters,

the fighters of fires, the doctors of disease,

those who built the roads through the mountains and deserts,

those who grew the vegetables and fruits for my table,

all the meals and makers-of-meals who went unblessed,

all the garments and sewers and sellers of them 
that kept me dressed,

and the thousands, millions, of other unthanked souls

who have made my life possible, made it a joy.

for all the beauty I forgot to acknowledge:

the mountains, meadows, moonglows and manatees,

the soft summer days, the snow-covered pines,

the cactus blossoms of spring, the yellow aspens of fall,

all the trees I never thanked for my breath,

all the clouds I never thanked for their beckonings,

all the rocks I never thanked for their stories,

all the rivers and lakes, puddles and ponds,

the oceans of water that refreshed my days,

never once asking for my thanks.

for all the people who made me laugh or cry:

the jokesters, writers, actors, makers of movies,
the merry whistlers and designers of Tilt-a-Whirls,

all you bubbling fountains of mirth and magic
who brought forth giggles and guffaws, chuckles and chortles,
tears and torment, glimpses into alien worlds and other hearts,
graciously accepting my laughter and tears as thanks enough.

to all of you ... friends and family,

those recognized and total strangers,

finally and utterly incompletely,
thanks. ... Thanks! ... Thank YOU!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

What do you do when the Universe rejects what you thought you were supposed to do?

Fleeting Shadows
A few days ago I received the news that my application to the Squaw Valley Community of Writers had been rejected - again. This is the fourth rejection I’ve received from that prestigious writers’ conference, two for poetry and now two for fiction. Because I know, slightly, one of the organizers of the conference, I also received a personal, apologetic note saying only 38% of the applicants were accepted. Somehow, that made it worse. 4 out of 10 got in and I wasn’t one of the four. I’m not even in the top 40% of the applicants. That stings.

The creative life overflows with rejection. It’s part of the course. We’re supposed to suck it up and keep making our art and putting it out into the world. That’s what everyone says. That’s what I’ve always thought and said. But now I wonder. Now, I’m in this new world, in a new beginning, facing a clean slate. Which way to go?

I never expected this path of writer and artist. Nothing in my childhood labeled me creative. There were no early accolades or unexpected successes. Creativity has been like a quiet shadow that just showed up one day and followed me as I wandered through life. I’ve never known quite what to make of it or if it was even real. For some reason, one of my first poem friends, “Eldorado" by Edgar Allan Poe (printed in full below) comes to mind: 
 ‘Shadow,’ said he,   
   ‘Where can it be—
This land of Eldorado?’

But, no answer comes. I feel like I have journeyed long, in sunshine and in shadow, and still don’t know
if I’m on the right path. The desire to be be a writer came in the fourth grade … also accompanied by
rejection as my first recess play was rejected because no one could read my writing. And, art sprang out
of the dark days after Richard died. No one was more surprised than I when my art showed up on the
walls of a gallery, where it largely remained unsold.

Part of the angst of the creative life … for me … is the belief that art is, or should be, a conversation
between artist and observer. What the artist makes needs to be received, accepted, understood,

But, what if that’s not true?

What if making art is just something we do, like making the bed, cooking a meal, kissing a child's boo
boo, or planting a flower? We do it because it’s who we are. What if the world’s reception is basically
meaningless. Would it change who I am if the great Squaw Valley deemed me worthy of their conference
or something I wrote suddenly went viral or a piece of my art caught the eye of a critic?

I know the answer is “no.” I know what changes me is the act of writing, struggling to tell a story in the
best possible way. What enhances my life is the daily search for beauty and understanding with my
camera and words. What feeds my spirit is that deep intake of breath that happens when I see light
playing with the world or find words tumbling out of my head as if from some other place, bringing me
insights beyond my own puny thoughts. That is the critical acknowledgment, the acceptance and
valuing of a piece of myself that has somehow connected with the Universe through what I do,
regardless of what form that takes.

Poe ends “Eldorado” with the exhortation:

Ride, boldly ride,’ 
   The shade replied,—
‘If you seek for Eldorado!’

My take on this is that whatever I do, to do it boldly. Maybe the creative conversation I seek isn’t with
the world, but simply with myself. I write and make art to know who I am. If others come along for the 
ride, that just makes it more fun. 

Más tarde, por ahora audazmente ir.

Gaily bedight,
   A gallant knight,
In sunshine and in shadow,  
   Had journeyed long,  
   Singing a song,
In search of Eldorado.

   But he grew old—
   This knight so bold—  
And o’er his heart a shadow—  
   Fell as he found
   No spot of ground
That looked like Eldorado.

   And, as his strength  
   Failed him at length,
He met a pilgrim shadow—  
   ‘Shadow,’ said he,  
   ‘Where can it be—
This land of Eldorado?’

   ‘Over the Mountains
   Of the Moon,
Down the Valley of the Shadow,  
   Ride, boldly ride,’
   The shade replied,—
‘If you seek for Eldorado!’

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Rainbirds of Lake Chapala, harbingers of rain

Click here to hear the rainbirds
One of the first things I heard when I came to the Lake Chapala area was about the rainbirds. Theoretically, when they begin to “sing,” rain is 42 days away. Some of the less fanciful folks say the rain will begin mid-June regardless of the rainbirds. And, some rather harsh locals insist that they are neither birds, nor do they sing.

Admittedly, now that I’ve heard them, I would have to agree that few would call this singing and apparently the “birds” are Lake Chapala’s form of cicadas coming out of their long hibernation. Apparently the males flex their tymbals (drum-like organs on their abdomens) to make a sound somewhat like someone learning to play a one-stringed violin. (Click under the picture above to see if you would call this a song.)

In looking for more information about rainbirds and the weather here in this paradise billed as the second-best climate in the world, I found:

     - May is the hottest month, mainly in the upper 80s with a few 90s thrown into this largely unairconditioned land. However, the humidity is in the 30s so it’s dry heat and cools off at night to 60-70.
     - Rain starts in mid-June and mainly falls at night. (How civilized.) The mountains turn green, flowers flourish and the temperatures stay in the mid-70s to 80 through September. Sunsets are spectacular.
     - Sometimes tropical storms hover over the area, hiding the sun for three or four days, during which time everyone goes into a state of sun-deprived depression.
     - During the tropical storms, the winds play musical furniture with everything that isn’t tied down. 
     - From October through April, the weather is spring like with almost no rain but lots of snow ... birds.

More lake trivia:

Lake Chapala, from the Nahuatal word chapalal meaning the sound of water splashing on a sandy shore, is 50 - 70 miles long and 15-20 miles wide. It was formed 12 million years ago and was 7 times larger than it is now, covering the current city of Guadalajara. Mammoth fossils have been found in the lake bed.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Playing house in Ajijic

Today as I do the wash, make breakfast, and prepare for the delivery of some patio furniture, I have a sudden sense of playing house. However, it’s not playing house in the idea of doing something imaginary or not real. 
This is very real, and pretty normal … Missy’s on the back of the couch, looking out the window, protecting us from intruders, email pings occasionally and Facebook streams the latest incomprehensible actions of the world. These things happen wherever I go.

This feeling of playing house is more about playing than the latest move. I’ve moved a lot even though this is the first out of country move. This is an almost giddy … free ... feeling. Perhaps it comes from what I’ve let go of … the responsibility of owning a home, driving a car, the mountain of stuff that called me to appreciate it, dust it, learn to play it or use it more effectively, honor it. Perhaps it’s the rolling away of expectations to be something … a loving friend or family member, a responsible home owner/neighbor, an informed citizen, a writer, an artist, … an adult. A tangled ball of “shoulds” seems to have been lifted from my life, leaving me with an almost equally confusing tangle of choices.

This feeling of playing house is somewhat like a surprise package wrapped in a bright, red bow. Untying the bow with anticipation, I find a note that says:
Here’s everything you need to create a new life … time, energy, health, financial security, all fueled by curiosity and caring about the world. Make it what you want it to be. Explore new worlds … or not. Write a crazy book that no one will read … or not. Develop a new art style … or not. Gather stories and friends … or not. Recreate your old life in a new place … or try on a new life and look in a mirror to see what appears.
If I’m playing house, I can try any or all … or none of these things. I can wander aimlessly … or find a purpose that makes my heart sing. I can do … or I can be … or I can harmonize them into a tune.

I can even sit here navel gazing with words while the birds sing. Perhaps they are doing the same thing in a different language.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Walking into the little mornings of Mexico

How lovely is the morning ... the day of the mothers
A long night, tossing and turning, struggling to find sleep. Suddenly there is a marching band in the street.

Seriously. The vibration of drummers and the clarion brass section competed with suddenly alert neighborhood dogs, including Missy who added to the chaos. Desperate for sleep, I thought I had dropped into a mad woman’s dream, until I remembered that May 10th is Mother’s Day in Mexico and they have a custom different from our cards and flowers.

Mexicans take family seriously and mama is the glue that holds family life together. This day is so important that it begins shortly after midnight. Local musicians make their rounds from house to house serenading the mothers as well as the Mother of Mexico, Guadalupe, with the familiar strains of “Las Mañanitas” Mexico’s all-purpose song for serenades, birthdays, saints day and other celebrations. 
Click here to hear the serenade.
Click above to hear the song that came in the middle of the night from an unseen band of serenaders. Interestingly, as soon as they moved on, sleep settled in and I awake this morning, tired but with the sweet sense of being held in a different place.

One of the primary reasons I chose to come here to this community on the largest lake in Mexico is I wanted a walking lifestyle. The Universe works in interesting ways, however. During the process of "de-stuffing" my life getting ready for the move, I sprained my foot ... not a serious injury but one that is altering my approach to being here. I can't dart about yet. Everything is moving more slowly than I had intended. I'm being forced to slow down, measure my energy, take more naps. This morning I feel the effects of too little sleep. Rather than struggling against fatigue, though, I find myself drifting, savoring the unexpected gift of last night's song, refusing the pull of "shoulds," sinking into a new and different pace.

A quote from Andy Warhol found me this morning and seems like something to hold onto today, reminding me that there is a beauty in lost sleep and unexpected songs, a value in seeing the beauty in everything.

Thank you unseen musicians, thank you Mexico, thank you creaky body forcing me to slow down, thank you to everything in my life that has brought me to this place, this moment, thank you Andy for reminding me to look for the beauty.

"Everything has its beauty, but not everyone sees it."
-- Andy Warhol


Saturday, March 25, 2017

It's a Four Agreements morning

Facebook brought me news of a death yesterday, a friend from high school. It hit me hard, harder than I would have thought considering I had not seen or heard from her in over 50 years. She was a bright light from my high school years, someone I considered one of my best friends.

I don’t often dream of people, but, over the years, I occasionally dreamed of her and those dreams had a special quality. They were like reunions. I would always awaken with a joy of reconnection as well as a mourning of the lost friendship. We were separated the summer before our senior year when both of our families moved. We wrote for awhile, but those were the days before Facebook, and eventually life separated us and the tie was broken.

I tried to reconnect a few times over the years but met with unspoken rejection. For a multitude of reasons, I took it personally. This morning I poured my feelings of being unloved, unwanted, rejected into an Evernote file until the Four Agreements shouted: Stop the pity party!
The conversation continued: Yes, you were rejected by someone you once loved. Yes, that person didn’t approve of the way you lived your life. Yes, she’s now dead and you will never be reconnected in this life. Yes, she was hard-hearted toward you. And, yes, you’ve probably been equally hard-hearted toward someone who loved you. She was human. You’re human. People aren’t perfect. You’re still alive … try to do better. Keep your own heart soft. Be kind to yourself and others.

Remember: Don’t take anything personally!
All right already.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Forty Days of Memes: Day 2 Happiness and Wonder

Soap bubbles: Sticky water molecules sandwiched by a surfactant with a hydrophilic head and hydrophobic tail expanded by breath into a sphere-seeking, slippery, thin film reflecting color wave interferences which samba through kaleidoscopic patterns of iridescent colors while compressing the most amount of air into a minimal area  capable of withstanding the forces of gravity and evaporation before collapsing into a never-more, liquid pop.

Soap bubbles fascinate and delight for their beauty and fragility. A couple of years ago, when invited to participate in an art and science show in Fresno, I delved into the science of soap bubbles and came up with the 62-word definition above. Obviously, it doesn’t adequately capture either the wonder or the happiness created by these momentary delights.

This particular soap bubble has fascinated me since the bright, shiny San Francisco day when I took the photo. Many years ago, Richard had a device that would make these elongated gossamer rainbow catchers. It always irritated him when children delighted in popping them. And, you have to wonder what that impulse is to pop something beautiful that is going to self-destruct within seconds anyway.

I also wonder if it’s the very fragility of soap bubbles that takes our breath away. Soap bubbles are NOW. We have a second to be awed by them before they disappear never to be seen again. We can’t store them (except in photographs), we can’t say, “Oh, wait a minute, I’ll get back to you.” We have to pay attention while they’re in play. We have to let ourselves be thrilled by their shimmering colors during their glimmer of life.

What if soap bubbles offer us the most realistic of all metaphors of life? Savor it now, for in a second it will be gone.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Forty Days of Memes: Day 1 The secret destination of all journeys

Secret destinations. What an interesting concept. As if all journeys know a secret that we don't.

But, isn't that true? We start out intending to go to grandma's house and on our way, we meet a wolf.

I am starting a new journey, moving to Ajijic, Mexico. My intentions are to have a more outdoor, walking lifestyle by a beautiful body of water where community will grow naturally. What will I actually find there? I have no idea. And, that's a bit disturbing to the control freak that lurks within each of us.

We like change. But, we like it more when it happens the way we want it to happen and brings us stuff we enjoy. However, change is it's own master and it brings us whatever it decides is appropriate.

As I spend the next several weeks letting go of the present in order to embark on the new journey, I have to wonder about this secret destination that I am unaware of. Will it be joyful beyond my expectations or will it challenge me to the bone? One nice thing about living long is I know that, whatever the secret destination is, I will be able to deal with it. Pain or joy, it will be my life.

A man I once loved and still treasure said it better than I:
"Isn't life interesting~!  The paths we choose, the challenges we face, the hardships we endure and the joy of living.  They are all connected."

"Meme" is a relatively young member of our word family, but a useful and intriguing one.  Launched by Richard Dawkins in his 1976 book The Selfish Gene, it now means an idea that can spread from person to person somewhat like a virus, generally carried by a few memorable words and an image.

 With the advent of Canva which makes it easy to combine words and images to share on social media, I began creating memes. For the next forty days, I will explore these small potent messengers of ideas.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Sea Protectors

Ceramic Face - Ajijic, MX
Sometimes a piece of art just grabs you and doesn't let go ... like this ceramic piece found in Ajijic. Unfortunately I never know which piece will have that effect until long after, so I didn't capture the artist's name. But, there is something about that fish coming out of her head and the coral growing around her face, her sad eyes ... and that incredible blue.

Of course, hanging on that complementary background helped. Anyway, after several days of too much: too much walking, too much looking, too much confusion (strange language, unknown streets, and unfamiliar customs), it was time for art making.

When I came to San Miguel de Allende to be part of the writers' conference, I was hosted by Leslie Mann, a wonderful, generous woman. I expected a bed but found myself in an incredible gallery of folk art. I knew that some piece of the beauty of her home would wind up in a piece of art.
Balcony overlooking San Miguel
Little did I know the first to jump into the mix would be a rather ordinary, but lovely and colorful end table on the balcony. However the two came together and began to play.

The result turned into a statement about our seas, the tragedy of the dying coral, and the strength, determination and shear brain power it is going to take to undo the damage that has already been done. The thought that the beauty and abundance of our oceans may not be available for our children's children and their children, is indeed a sad one.

We all need to be Sea Protectors.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Martin & Rosa

Posted each year in honor of two people who changed our world.

Martin & Rosa

Twenty-six he was when destiny crooked its finger,
beckoning the still-green minister-scholar into the world.
Forty-two she was when she pounded on the door
Theoretically opened ninety-four years before.
It was the first of December, 1955, when history wove
Their fates together into a multi-colored tapestry of change.

“Tired,” she said, “Bone tired. Tired of giving up.
Tired of giving in,” she said and sat in the front of the bus.

Montgomery, Alabama, shivered as the temperature rose.
The old ways could be heard keening long into the night
As 42,000 people left the buses to stand by Rosa’s side.
381 days they walked: nannies, maids, carpenters, all.

Two hundred years of anger rose up to shatter the silence
And from this deafening roar came a molasses-rich voice
Spinning a song of hope with a melody of peace and love.
“I have a dream,” boomed and echoed across the land.

The young minister-leader painted a picture of a life
without color lines, a world without violence.
His voice lifted the dream: Richmond, Little Rock,
Dallas opened their buses, took down their signs.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent
about things that matter," he said, never silent again.
He took our hands and led us step-by-step onto a new path,
Brothers and sisters connected by heart rather than skin.

“Always avoid violence,” he said.
“If you succumb to the temptation …
unborn generations will be the recipients
of a long and desolate night of bitterness,
and your chief legacy to the future will be an
endless reign of meaningless chaos."

Thirty nine he was when one man with a gun silenced the voice,
But not the words …those four words branded into our brains:
“I have a dream …,” saffron-rich messengers left behind to
Carry forward the dream of a color-blind world of hope and peace.

Dedicated to Martin Luther King, Jr. born January 15, 1929;
Assassinated April 4, 1968.
And Rosa Parks, civil rights activist, born February 4, 1913
Died October 24, 2005

-- Joyce Wycoff, copyright, 2011

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Extreme Gratitude and a Failed Experiment ... ?

A friend recently recommended two of Pam Grout’s books: E-Squared: Nine Do-It-Yourself Energy Experiments that Prove Your Thoughts Create Your Reality (free to Kindle Unlimited members) and Thank & Grow Rich, a 30-Day Experiment in Shameless Gratitude and Unabashed Joy.

Pam has a delightful, casual, practical approach to spiritual matters as well as a marked fondness for experimentation. I’ve fallen in line like a duckling, embracing the extreme gratitude she encourages.

available from
I’m reading both books at the same time, writing in my Gratitude Miracles journal every day and then topped it off with what she calls a 2-step party plan:
  1.  Proclaim as you get out of bed that “something unexpected, exciting and amazingly awesome is going to happen to you today."
  2. Come to believe in blessings and miracles.

Pam’s Recommendation: To keep from falling back on old habits, she recommends posting three gratitudes to the world (such as Facebook) every day, making sure they are different every day and watching carefully for the miracles and blessings and note them as they show up. 

Then I decided to add her 48-hour “field of possibilities” experiment to the mix. This experiment requires that you spend 48 hours looking for evidence of the “all-knowing, all perfect FP (her term for the field of infinite possibilities). She adds, “To up the stakes, you’re going to ask the FP for a blessing or what I call an unexpected gift.” She emphasizes unexpected. This is not you asking for something. This is you setting aside skepticism for 48 hours"

Here are the steps:
  1.  Start the experiment.
  2.  Note the time and date.
  3. "Ask the FP to make its presence known. Ask for a blessing."

Okay, I read this at 4:37 Wednesday morning (one of those difficult sleep nights and thought, “Why not?”) I started the clock on the experiment and proceeded into my day (which included periodic naps.)

Last night there was a meeting of Sierra Writers, but it was raining, hard. But, I had promised to be there and I wanted to hear the speaker, a poet. Did I mention that it was raining … and cold? Finally, I bundled up and went.

This morning, I did my gratitudes for the day and was thinking about the experiment which, so far, was a bust. “Maybe I need to repeat my request,” I thought.

Backstory: Several years ago, poetry came into my life. I don’t remember inviting it, however, all of a sudden it was flooding me. I enjoyed the flood although it was time-consuming. I thought maybe poetry was “my thing.” Two rejections from the Squaw Valley Community of Writers for their Poetry Workshop and a rejection from the Antioch MFA program convinced me that poetry wasn't my thing. And, soon after that, the poetry stopped flowing.

The poet who led the meeting last night, Chris Olander, led us through a long writing exercise, using a series of prompts. I had no expectations of outcome. However, almost immediately I fell into a space I recognized, a space where words are in charge, somehow doing what they want without much input from me.

Chris gave us pointers on editing and told us to take our writing home and work it. This morning I started putting it into Evernote and realized I was liking it. And, after a bit of work, it was speaking to me, taking me someplace new. Suddenly, it occurred to me that this was what Pam was talking about. This was that field of possibilities taking me back to that feeling of joy that happens when words are flowing easily and effortlessly.

That was the blessing!

I’m not judging the poem that came as good, bad or indifferent. I do know that the feeling that came with it was one I have missed and I'm delighted to see it show up again. Happy first poem of 2017!

In case you’re wondering, here’s the poem … obviously influenced by the rain/snow/sleet that has been our state for the past several weeks.

Sky River

by Joyce Wycoff

Eagles swirl in dark squads
Shake feathered spans
in rusted rhythms 
tolling lost hopes and
melancholy dreams.

Day wet and confused.
Rain? Snow? Sleet? Fog?
Curtain. Cold and damp
blocking sunlight.

Dust turning to mud
as storm dances
across determined desert
racing to a destination
not marked on the map.

Drums reverberating 
beside  lonely campfire
casting shadow fingers               
across leafless black limbs.

Dreams slip through
mud-dark gaps
bringing stories 
Love found, love lost
Glory days, dreary seconds.

Dust stars form a marching band
playing in four/four time
kaleidoscope harmonies
shimmer, sparkle, shift. gone.

Evening drops moments from Sky River.
Nested eagles murmur quietly
Stilled drum skins hold vibration
Embers glow warm radiating
Glistening bits of life remembered.

(c) 2017

Sunday, January 8, 2017

What are you going to do about the current chaos? Two sure-fire answers.

There is a spiritual state capable of feeling gratitude for the person recently elected to lead our country. I’m not there yet. 
However, after two months of anguish and confusion, I am beginning to appreciate the chaos this election has created. Watching the great pain, fear and anger that prompted such an unlikely election has opened my eyes about how people react when they feel rejected and neglected.

Watching the newly-empowered making plans to dismember the social net we have pieced together over the past 80 years has made me more aware of the millions of hungry, homeless, jobless, elderly, sick and/or disenfranchised neighbors among us. In countries where this has happened before, people have learned to take care of each other when they couldn’t depend on their own governments. This may be where we’re headed.

Watching hatred flare unchecked has reminded me that we have yet to live up to the grand experiment that began when our country was formed. We were to be diversity in action. We were to be freedom and equality for ALL. We were to be a people who respected life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness … not just for rich, white, male, straight, land owners, but for all people.

We cannot wait for government to act in accordance with these principles; we must each live these values every day and with every person we connect with, regardless of political persuasion, color, religion, gender, or non-violent life-style preferences.

Kindness is a political stance. 

Individually, we must be the government we want, and perhaps kindness is one value that might bring us together, at least we, the ordinary people trying to raise our families and do the best we can to be good, solid citizens. We’ve fallen far short of our original vision and, unfortunately, it has taken a badly flawed human appearing at exactly the right moment, to wake us up. Now that we are awake, it’s time to recognize that kindness is a political stance.

Gratitude is a form of activism.

At times I want to rail at the misinformation, fight the hatred and bigotry, become a warrior for peace. And then, I realize that railing, fighting and warring is not part of a peaceful life. Finding gratitude for the chaos of these days reminds me that appreciation for all that we have is the way forward. We need to honor and celebrate every moment, every action of love, compassion, trust, and kindness, reminding ourselves that, basically, we are a kind, generous people. We’ve just forgotten who we are and gratitude helps us remember.

Almost everyone I talk to is trying to figure out what to do in this chaotic time. That wave of concern and activism is something to be grateful for. This is our country. Perhaps we have delegated too much of it to our government … or assumed too much. Perhaps the time has passed when we could assume our elected officials were citizen statesmen interested in the well-being of the nation.

So, what do we do now?

Every time we express our gratitude for the incredible gift of living in this country, we are actively fighting the mindset that this country needs to be made great again by closing the doors to all but the already rich and privileged. This country has flaws almost as big as its beautiful geography, however, as long as we are a democracy and revere a constitution created by wise people who knew that it would need to be revised and renewed over time, we have hope of moving toward a more perfect union.

I believe each of us who have benefited from being a citizen of this prosperous, democratic country needs to decide what we can and will do to insure its future and the well-being of our neighbors.

For myself, I’ve decided that my call is not to political activism. However, I will speak up against bigotry and hatred. I will advocate for kindness and fairness. I will use my words and my financial resources to support the founding ideals of our country and the rights and well-being of every woman, child and man and for this planet we call home.

I will remember that kindness and gratitude can make us whole again. The Dalai Lama said "My religion is kindness.”  If it’s good enough for him, it’s good enough for me.

Monday, January 2, 2017

This is what happened in 2017, one story of connecting with future self

Sunrise on Lake Atitlan, Guatemala
Harry Pickens is one of those magical people who show up in your life, sometimes only for a moment, but leave gifts behind that often take a long time to unwrap. Harry is brilliant, wise, heart-centered and an incredible musician who has played with some of the great jazz musicians of our time and even played for the Dalai Lama.  At 6’7”, he’s bigger than life in all ways.

I was fortunate enough to be on a visioning call with him on New Year’s Eve and, within an hour, life shifted. The call was like my past tapping me on my shoulder saying, “Remember me?” and my future crooking its finger saying, “Come this way.”

When I got off the phone, I had the thought that I have spent a good deal of my life like someone who reads a diet book and then goes and weighs to see how much weight she lost. I spent years reading about change processes: creativity, positive thinking, mental rehearsal, affirmations, dream tending, intentions and so on and so on. But, there was always a new book available, so I would open it and then another, and another, until I began to wonder why all these magical things weren’t really working.

Oh, life was good and I was learning and growing. But, something was missing. The synchronicities weren’t syncing. Things were a little too hard, rejection was coming a little too often. I didn’t feel like I was in flow.

For some reason, though, several months ago, I decided I needed a “practice.” Not that I haven’t had that thought for years … decades, actually … but, for some reason, this time I decided to actually make gratitude a practice. And, in order to do that, I needed a journal … but not just any journal, I wanted one that was easy and simple, one that would support making gratitude a practice rather a chore.

About this time, synchronicity did sync. An online workshop showed me how to create a specialty journal and within a few weeks, Gratitude Miracles was on and I was writing my gratitudes every day and noticing miracles happening. I have done this consistently for 32 weeks. Every day. Me, who has never managed to be consistent regarding any other practice. That in and of itself is a miracle.

I think this is one reason Harry showed up again, offering a visioning session that asked me to think about what I truly wanted to create in 2017. More importantly, he asked us to imagine it being New Year’s Eve in 2017 and, looking backwards, what would we feel pride in saying we had accomplished? Harry called it imagining our future self … imagining already being the person we needed to be to create what we wanted in 2017.

Intention Buddy

When Harry opened the call, he reminded us that when people come together in a common intention, the intention is multiplied. This set up a yearning for an “intention buddy,” someone to share intentions with for the coming year, someone to help with accountability. After going through all of my friends, I thought of two who might be interested in committing to an intention process for the year.

I sent an invitation and a sketch of the idea and process to them and, within minutes, one of them responded that she had just been thinking the same thing and was about to invite me to coffee to talk about it! LOVE synchronicity.

So we’re meeting Wednesday and I’m in a flurry of index cards and possibilities. Heaven! The first step I’ve chosen is to write 12 intentions from the viewpoint of 12/31/2017. Things I want to be able to say I did in 2017, things that would make me proud to say them.

Here they are … the 12 things I’m putting on index cards to place in a prominent place, all twelve visible at once, but focused on one for each month. I will post a progress report at the end of each month as part of my accountability process.

My Twelve Accomplishments for 2017

 In 2017, I …
  • honored the Universe that magically connects me with people and events and opens doors     seen and unseen
  • deepened my ability to listen to my inner wisdom
  • made friends with interesting, dynamic people who believe in me and my gifts
  • kept the promises I made to myself even when it involved discomfort
  • honored my physical being as well as my spirit and creativity
  • honed and enhanced my writing and storytelling skills
  • listened and learned life lessons from wise teachers
  • poured stories and art of courageous, positive action into the world
  • collaborated with powerful, wise people to make peaceful, joyful change in the world
  • powerfully and lovingly launched Yellowstone Howling and Mobius Dreamtime into the     world
  • attended two major writing conferences and learned from masters
  • explored two new worlds and spoke to people in Spanish
** After writing 12 serious things, I realized there was one missing, one I really want to be able to talk about at the end of this year:
  • got to spend time on a houseboat on a beautiful lake where I swam, kayaked and had long, wonderful conversations and fun with remarkable friends.

If any of this process speaks to you, please feel free to use it and share it.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

A cockamamie adventure in a corn nuts world

I’ve been studying alternative swear words. Some of them are truly wonderful: holy llamas, bullspit, blangdang, crab cakes, fragdaddle … and so on.

Many of those words are coming to mind as I contemplate an adventure that a young friend of mine is embarking on this first day of the new year. She’s a horse person and for a year or more, she’s been planning a long-distance ride to raise money and awareness about domestic violence. It’s a crazy long-ride but she has it all mapped out: four years, 48 state capitals, beginning here in Grass Valley.

Her ride starts today, in spite of the rain, in spite of the forecast of the biggest snow storm in years, projected to drop 8 to 12 inches, in spite of the lack of overwhelming financial support she’s received for the project.

When I first heard about the project, my spirit leapt up and shouted, “Wow! You go girl!” I spiraled into the adventure, admiring her courage, her determination, her willingness to break out of the box.

Then the practical part of my nature got caught in the stickers: winters, traffic, showers, snow, rain, food, bathrooms, loneliness. What would she do if she got sick? What if her horse got hurt? What if she needed to go home in a hurry? What if  …. ? What if … ?

Today I’ve been invited to see her off and it’s making me a little crazy. Not long after I heard about her plan, my skeptic kicked into gear. It's a cool idea, but it’s never going to work. She launched a rather outrageous Kickstarter project which didn’t work. That’s the end of that. She launched a gofundme project (The Centauride) which has only raised a few hundred dollars. This is never going to work. 

But, now she’s actually getting on her horse and riding away. I don’t know if she will make “It.” But I do know that she has impacted me and my thinking. So what if she doesn’t “make it?” She has an outrageous idea. She has passion and purpose. She has the guts to get out the door, make the first step. That deserves my awe-filled respect. That deserves my support. So, I’m dropping a few more dollars into her gofundme account and going out on this rainy morning to wish her well.

Then, I’m going to come home and figure out how to be more like Meredith. I’m going to find my own cockamamie project for this corn nuts world. I think we all need at least one of these in our lives.
To follow Meredith and Apollo on their ride: