Saturday, February 15, 2014

Unification Theory

I miss my early am walks by the lake with my Dad. I miss being able to run out the door, hop in the car, and get to work without thinking about how long it will take to dig my car out. I miss my second bathroom that is disabled until the pipes thaw out.

However, I'm really enjoying the "we're-all-in-this-together" attitude at home, work, and the neighborhood. Once we were into the third, fourth, fifth, and snowmageddon storms this winter, my husband and son just got up and handled the digging-the-car-out thing before I asked. Last time, my son came in and told me that our neighbors were all out and told him to wait until the plow came through again to dig out the end of the driveway. At work, we all celebrated because our colleague from Germany managed to fly home to Frankfurt on THURSDAY during the storm, in time to take his wife to a concert in Stuttgart that they had been anticipating since Christmas.

Every once in awhile Nature hits us upside the head with the oneness of existence on this planet. Thanks.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


I've been thinking about the concept of cultivation. I started thinking about this after a conversation about whether it's better to "bloom where you're planted" or "plant yourself where you want to bloom". The more I thought about it, I realized both concepts put a lot of power in the soil. Really, those sayings assume the blooming is affected by where it's done. And that's true. The nutrients, the water, the air, every bit of the environment that surrounds any living things affects its growth.

Often in life, you can't affect the bloom. If you're an iris bulb, you will produce an iris bloom. If you're a swan, you'll be a swan, if you're a dog you're a dog, and so on. It's just going to happen, and that's a miracle in itself. But how do you help those swans and dogs you love to be the highest form of swans and dogs they were meant to be? You cultivate the surroundings you share. It's the best you can do. 

To cultivate is to promote or improve growth through labor and attention. Standing at the edge of the lake and yelling at a swan to go make a nest and quit pooping in the lake and spread those wings and fly is not going to have an affect on the swan or the lake. It's really just going to make you crazy. To have an affect on how things you love bloom, you're much better off paying attention, adding appropriate labor, and cultivating the environment you share. It's the best we can do. 

Sunday, July 17, 2011


I haven't posted anything here since February. I was however, still visiting the lake, and taking photos and thinking about why some things attract my attention more than others. I'm posting my spring swan-nest photos from the woods by the lake even though the photos are from May and June. I'm going to go back there later today to see what the end of July has brought to that nest, but that will be another entry.

This nest intrigued me and I realized it was because there's so much going on, even though there's no movement. Spring is pretty naturally an inspiration for gestation. Literally, these swans are sitting on their eggs, but I related it to the creative process in my life and the world in general. I was also trying to work the concept of gestation or incubation into one of my recurring themes -- duality. I kept wondering over these months what the opposite of gestation was, what was its polar opposite? Was it birth? Hatching? And really it came to me that there isn't any. Some things aren't dualities, they don't have a polar opposite. Birth isn't really the opposite of gestation. Hatching isn't the opposite. Birth and hatching are the polar opposite of inception. Gestation comes in between.

And so while I was not posting for these months, I was just regrouping after a very busy winter. You can't really worry about whether you look still and unproductive to the world, that's what I took away from this. Sometimes you really just have to let yourself breathe and that's all.

My cousin recently had bypass surgery. Thankfully, he's doing very well. But right after the surgery, they let him sleep as long as he had to to recover. The doctors trusted him to wake himself when he was ready and he did. Gestation.

My lesson is that even under pressure to perform, keep your own pace. Stillness has its place in life.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Still Snow

I have been away from my blog for awhile. Busy, busy, busy. My daughter to school, my son on with life, work around the clock, holiday entertaining, business travel...all the stuff of life. However, taking the day off for our wedding anniversary (26 years) and reflecting on what life is really made of, I realized the universe has been gently but steadily slapping me with the message that this busy-ness is not all that life has to offer. A few hours of stillness reminded me that taking time to be still, planning to be present to the people you love, and making the space to be open to life as it flows and not as you wish to control it is the path to your best self.

And there's no better visual representation of the depth of stillness than winter snow on a frozen lake. So I took myself and my new camera out to our lake. If you've followed this blog, you know that I spent a year documenting lake-life on a log. That log had been there at least 10 years, but I caught the last year it was in that position, because a flood dislodged it and it's now gone.

Since there was no log, I went to the dog park to capture lake vistas. and the first photo above is from that point of view. Very Currier & Ives, and the sunlight was beautiful, but I found myself still attracted to my old spot, even though it was logless.

Once back in "my" place, the same scene that I've photographed so many times, still had a something new to offer. The familiar can offer intimacy and inspiration if approached with respect, an open frame of mind, and an awareness of attraction. And so taking the time to let thoughts flow on my anniversary brought that thought, which could just as well be describing marriage.

So my takeaway was that it is really a pleasure I've been missing to make time for my husband, my children, my family and my friendships. Not time that just fits between work and other obligations, or time that's multi-tasking with everything we need to accomplish, but committed time without distraction. And to discern what is distraction and what is me, I have to also spend time in stillness.

The third photo above represents the beauty, depth and wonder of leaving a space to be still.

Monday, August 30, 2010


Here's a quote I came across today that kind of clarifies what resonated with me in the quote in my last post.

"Truth, like gold, is to be obtained not by its growth, but by washing away from it all that is not gold."
– Leo Tolstoy

So I thought of the "hiding" as actually a discretionary judgement of not dwelling on details that confuse the fundamental truth. Similarly the silhouette of this landscape against the sunset is really enough information to get the point and understand the "truth" of the moment perhaps better than a picture with distracting detail. Cropping with a discretionary eye washes away all that is not gold.

So hiding wasn't the point. The point is that life, if allowed to take its own course will reveal its beauty naturally the way it is supposed to. You just have to notice it. It's taken me a long time to have the faith that the world just works, even without me forcing it along. I didn't create this sunset, I just noticed it. And so I'm taking this lesson to mean that as my kids go off to college this year, I just have to notice them, not control them. Their spirits will shine the way they're supposed to because their innate talents are made to be seen.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Paradox and Passion

To hide a passion totally (or even to hide, more simply, its excess) is inconceivable: not because the human subject is too weak, but because passion is in essence made to be seen: the hiding must be seen: I want you to know that I am hiding something from you, that is the active paradox I must resolve: at one and the same time it must be known and not known: I want you to know that I don't want to show my feelings: that is the message I address to the other.
--Roland Barthes

To_hide_a_passion_totally_or_even_to. (n.d.). Columbia World of Quotations. Retrieved August 25, 2010, from website:
I'm posting this quote to examine the paradox of living a life without resistance and a life of achievement. Effort, discipline, structure, and responsibilities seem more associated with deadlines and pressure than ease and grace. Can they exist simultaneously?

Passion may connect them. I see passion in nature as the force that manifests itself in infinite forms. That's what I felt in Florida where the photos here were taken.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


The Australian Pines in Florida are an evasive species. Here at Stump Pass the state has killed them so that the native environment won't be choked out. At first we thought there had been a fire. There's something eerily attractive about the shoreline with those black and white trunks. And in the photo above, we once again see a log, for a time, grounded in the water and providing a structure that attracts wildlife and provides a dramatic focal point.

The point is that the life is always there, the structure just supports it for a finite amount of time. Although the structure supports rather than defines, it is what attracts the attention and makes this photograph. That bird could be any Floridian bird, but this one is special because it's framed by the tree. The context, the structure defines this birds presence in one particular moment. The environment is part of it's existence and an even larger part of it's observance by me.

I mention this because I've been thinking about "dependency on form". Existence is not dependent on form, but communication of existence is. You have to be somewhere to be noticed. And the somewhere that you are is the starting place that others have to connect with you. So your environment, context, or form is transient, but not separate.

I think that Tolle's point is best taken then, as instruction to be conscious of the form you take at any given time. Forms that work are structures that support rather than dependencies that limit growth.