Thanksgiving 2016

Eudora Welty wrote, “Ever feeling waits upon its gesture,” and I wonder what the gesture of gratitude might be. I think often of the photograph I saw years ago of a woman who carried white rocks to her small tent where she assembled a  garden of light against the bleakness of the refugee camp she lived in. I remember, too, the obituary I read after 9-11 (or was it an article) where a child walked about her yard with a basket into which she dropped feathers, acorns, pebbles (perhaps) because it had become very important for her to save beauty. It is a dark and rainy, this day before Thanksgiving. I look out the window at my neighbor’s Halloween decorations; a skeleton sits at the patio table, a ghostly figure waits on the swing.  Both serve as...

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A Hobbit Goes to India

Basically, I am a hobbit. I love my little house with its cozy rooms filled with books and blankets. I love my breakfast and my second breakfast of tea and chocolate. I love to listen to soft music while I stare out the  window over my desk waiting for my characters to say something. But, every once-in-a-while, as I’m sure you know, a hobbit is called to journey. I spent a year preparing for my trip by doing challenging things such as moving my yoga mat to other locations around the studio for my practice and making the occasional leftt hand turn while driving.  It’s okay if you are laughing at this; I am laughing too! As my departure date approached I became less sure I wanted to go. Having spent a lifetime with myself I had predicted this fear and...

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I sat beside fear and she taught me not to be afraid

On the train to Chicago I sat next to a woman around my age who was taking a much longer journey to visit her son, his wife, and the new grandbaby. We chatted back and forth a bit and then, because I can not resist blurting this out to anyone within earshot lately, I told her of my plans to go to India. She became quite enthusiastic as she told me of her dreams of traveling.  I recalled how Joseph Campbell described being able to know someone’s bliss by the brightness of her eyes; my companion had such a brightness as she spoke of her yearning to see the world. “But I won’t go,” she said. “Think of that plane with all those people in it, and no one even knows what happened to them. I won’t fly. That’s why I’m taking...

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What I found and what I lost

I decided to take a summer vacation on my front porch. When we bought this bungalow seven years ago, I thought it had a lovely little foyer. What a nice entrance, I thought, too bad there’s not really enough room for a coatrack, and those windows, which open inward, won’t allow for hat hooks either. Little did I know that this narrow space would become one of my favorite rooms in the house. I found a loveseat at a garage sale, and an old wicker chair that I covered with a red and white comforter.  Our golden retriever, Watson, and our cat, Goethe, Bill and I spent many hours together on the porch before the animals died. In those days we learned that if one of us moved, we all did, because that’s the dynamics of shared space.  After my...

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Focus is the direction of the gaze

About a year and a half ago my yoga teacher, Meg, offered a class in which we concentrated on the direction of our gaze. We still did all the yoga movements you are likely familiar with, but were encouraged to bring attention to where we looked, which was often quite close, at the tip of the nose or just a few inches in front of the face. So often when we think of focus we think of “concentrate” or “work harder,” but this class reminded me that focus can be as simple as “the- direction-of-your-gaze.” During a period in my life when there was a lot of distraction I was reminded I could choose where to look. Ever since I was in fourth grade and pecked out a story on the manual  typewriter (it was called “The Paper...

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Year in Review

  Someone just knocked on the door in my new novel, but I have no idea who’s there. I have peered into my subconscious by pretending to ignore it while eating tortilla chips. I have written a list of possible visitors. I have wondered if it was only the wind, a ghost, or the imagination of the character who stands in the kitchen. I have eaten chocolate. This looking-in-every-direction brings to mind Janus, the old Roman god whose dual-direction gaze is often associated with January, which reminds me I never did write my “year in review” post. I decide to look up my book sales and discover I’ve sold enough to be heartened, and few enough to be discouraged. Then I click on the map of the United States, and scroll through: New Mexico,...

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The  first time I read The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche, probably about twenty-five years ago, death was a metaphor, but when I picked it up again last week I did so seeking direct solace. I opened it to the chapter titled The Process of Dying and came across this description; “Our body begins to lose all its strength. We are drained of any energy. We cannot get up, stay upright, or hold anything. We can no longer support our head. We feel as though we are falling, sinking underground, or being crushed by a huge weight. Some traditional texts say that it is as if a huge mountain were begin pressed down upon us, and we were being squashed by it.” A few years ago I read a blog post by a woman I didn’t know, about attending a...

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