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August 2, 2022

Comparison is the Thief of Joy

“Comparison is the Thief of Joy.”

—Teddy Roosevelt

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” Teddy Roosevelt said that. A remarkable quote.

This is my personal story about that, a story that took place during the first year of Covid, 2020.

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Blog Posts

July 19, 2022

Flowing with the Stream

“How can I be still? By flowing with the stream.” Lao Tzu said that, in his Book of Wisdom, The Tao Te ching, otherwise known as “The Way,” a  philosopher poet/wise man of immense wisdom, in the 6th century. What an absolutely amazing realization. The streams and rivers do keep flowing, just like life. It is only our resistance to that flow, to what life offers us, presents us with, that incurs our agitation. “What is it that I am currently resisting?” is always a good question. What if we could be still, just surrender, just accept, just receive everything that…

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July 6, 2022

You are Not Lost

Think upon this: you are not lost. It may feel that way, at times, with the circumstances of the world swirling about us, as they are, and impinging upon our consciousness, as they do. However, consider this: You are not lost. You have only to touch the rare moment of Eternity, of Rest, of no time in time to know That Who You Are is beyond your small sense of yourself, your small sense of the world, and your small sense of being in this particular place at this particular time, in this particular world. You, however are Awareness waiting…

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June 28, 2022

Debbie’s Story

I am creating a special edition of my blog posting this week, as I have had the privilege of being in a particular conversation that I’d say is vitally important at this time, a time of shifting sands, beneath our feet, a time of importance for intentionally crossing thresholds. This posting points to a potent distinction that allows such a threshold crossing. The painting, above, was created by Debbie Hulbert, a participant in our fall 2020 virtual offering of Crossing Thresholds, a course that was based on my newly published book, designed to facilitate participants in crossing their next threshold.…

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June 20, 2022

Phoenix Ascends

Every five hundred to one thousand years, it is said, the Phoenix, a beautiful, scarlet and gold, giant, mythical bird, rises from the ashes of its own death. There is, the myth says, only one Phoenix on the planet at any one time. It sets itself on fire, inside of a nest of boughs an spices, and is consumed by the flames. Out of its own ashes, it arises, born newly. The regeneration of itself contains the ashes of its predecessor as an aspect of its next being. What a metaphor! This is such a time, for such an Awakening.…

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June 7, 2022

Living with an Open Heart

The Buddhists ask the question, “How do you keep your heart open in hell?” It is a worthwhile question, a relevant question, in all times, and perhaps, particularly, in these chaotic and anxiety – producing times, in this time of war, and despair, and senselessness violence and children dying. And underneath it all, is pain, anguish, brokenness. The importance, nay, the criticality, of living with an open heart, confronts us on a daily basis, for if we close our hearts, we die. “The brittle heart is easy to break,” my poem, “Heartbreak,” says, in my book, Crossing Thresholds. That message…

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May 23, 2022

Trust

Without trust, there is no peace. I have been thinking a lot about trust of late, trust in the universe; trust in the Tao, trust in the journey, trust that we belong to one another, that we are interconnected, as deeply as the roots of the aspen grove are connected to one another underneath the soil. Brother David Steindl‑Rast, Benedictine monk and one of the great spiritual teachers of our time call Faith, which is very resonant with Trust, “the bliss of certainty.” That phrase stays with me, begging to be examined, as we know that the only certainty there…

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May 6, 2022

Listen to the Song of Nature

February 9 is the “echoing” day of my birth. My husband and I gifted me with a journey to Muir’s Valley, Yosemite, now a Valley belonging to us all, where nature graces us with her beauty, her power, her wonder, her awesome, and the heart can sing with the rivers and the streams. Today, instead of some prose, may I offer you a few Blessings, and the gifts of pleasure, enjoyment, and heart‑song as you listen to my husband Don’s original Bluegrass song, Shadowline. Accompanied by our video, I invite you to delight with us in the shadows cast by…

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April 26, 2022

New Beginnings

This is a time for new beginnings. Each morning, I give myself a new beginning, consciously, intentionally, gratefully. In his book, Consolations, David Whyte says, “Beginning well involves a clearing away of the crass, the irrelevant, and the complicated to find the beautiful, often hidden lineament of the essential and the necessary.” I “begin well” by gifting myself each day with a morning practice, a practice where, in my chair, in my “poetry corner,” I create ways of settling into silence. Here, I find peace within, and the gift of experiencing life as a blessing. Poetic words, as well, start…

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April 11, 2022

Perspective Creates The World We Live In

This last week, in our first three days of our Heart of Leadership, one of the participants was a man whose purpose in life, whose orientation, whose commitment in life, is to hold a space for all different points of view to be heard, gotten, and appreciated. That reminded me of a cartoon I once saw, with two people on each side of the number 6, or 9, depending upon the point of view. The man who is standing on the side of the number that looks like “9” says to the person looking at the 6, “Nine.” The other…

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March 29, 2022

A Time for Healing

Coming out from behind our masks, what do we find? People.  People loving, people hurting, people having turned away from any light, people grieving, people hiding, people willing to come out of hiding, to be seen again. People longing to be held, to be touched, to be loved. The last two years of Covid have affected us, perhaps in more ways than we even know, unless we look, and listen, deeply. During this month, I enjoyed the extraordinary privilege of leading my foundational program, The Heart of Leadership, for one of my dearest clients.  In that five‑day program, we entered…

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March 15, 2022

The Firefall

When I was a child, each year my parents took me to Yosemite Valley. There, breathing in and breathing out the pure air, experiencing the awestruck wonder of a starlit sky, the great granite domes, spires, and cliffs rising sheer, straight up from the valley, I touched Peace. Every time. Our connection with nature gives us that gift, reliably, sustainably, deeply. John Muir called it “The University of the Wilderness.” Each year in Yosemite, a natural event occurs in the month of February. A small waterfall, depending upon the snowfall that year, falls from the east side of El Capitan,…

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March 1, 2022

During These Days…

During these days, I constantly ask myself, “What can I do?” “What can we do?” We can recognize the unity that is occurring throughout most of the world. We can spend some time each day, extending our hearts to the people whose lives have been displaced. We can learn from our fellow global friends to extend our hands. I was recently speaking with a most empowering man on the phone who was supporting my husband and me to procure tickets for an international trip we are taking later this year. We asked him where he was located. He said, “Moldova.”…

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February 16, 2022

What did Abe Lincoln know?

In a dangerous world, where violence and strife prevail outside, where the lines of war are being drawn as I write, how do we live? How do we live peacefully? How do we live, emanating love for our planetary companions? How do we carry the energy of peace with us as we walk through our days? How do we live free from fear while the news each day bombards us with messages of coming destruction? How do we not exhaust ourselves with our own busy‑ness and allow ourselves to be overwhelmed with the plethora of advice coming our way? These…

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February 1, 2022

Writing Changes Everything

In a time when the “world is too much with us,” to quote Wordsworth, it can be difficult, sometimes, to move from a conversation inside my own head, which I sometimes wake up into, in the morning, a conversation filled with frustrations, worries, and fears, into a space of serenity, equanimity, centeredness. I have a practice, each and every day, which I love to engage. I write. Before I write, however, I stop, pause, make, stir, and then drink my soothing tea. I watch the tea settle into my stomach. I observe myself inhaling, and exhaling, observing my breath, maybe…

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January 18, 2022

The Gift of Alert Awareness

We are all human. Very human. And we are all imperfect, very imperfect. In fact, perfectly imperfect. Our very humanity, our very imperfections, our very wounds and vulnerabilities, flailings and failings, crashing on the rocks, and recovering our well – being, thriving through the storm – all are the Great Learnings of our Lifetime. Living through this pandemic consciously, and all that is being wrought, brings us to great trials, Great Sleep‑fulness, Great Wake‑fulness. If you have been reading Blog postings for a while, or worked with me, you know how serious I am, how committed I am, what a…

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January 4, 2022

Trust In The Way Things Are

Have trust in the way things are and are not.  Love the world, and others, and yourself. Then, you can live in peace. By Amba Gale Perhaps I would not say “Happy New Year to you” this year so much. For that phrase, always said at the beginning of the next year, becomes a cliché, and without any created intention, and thoughtful blessings behind it, means nothing. Clichés have a way of putting us to sleep. Not only that, if you are like me, thinking it, or speaking it brings up the mind at this time. And, according to the…

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December 21, 2021

Cultivating Self Compassion

Full Moon, emerge! Come out of hiding. Teach me how to love. By Amba and Don Gale In my last posting, December 8, I invited you to reach out to someone in your past, perhaps even someone who has passed, and write to them the words inside your heart that you have never said to them. I also gave you the gift of listening to a song my husband wrote to his Mother, from his new album of original songs, Looking Back, Looking In, a deeply introspective body of songs. Here’s the song again, Momma. in the case you missed the last…

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December 3, 2021

Looking Back, Looking In

As the end of this year comes upon us, for many of us it is time to stop, to pause, to reflect, to look at our lives, and to be with those we love and have loved. Covid, if we have listened in a certain way, has given us many Teaching lessons – gifts of discovering patience, living graciously with uncertainty, dancing with the unfolding of the world, experiencing the beauties of nature as a healing balm, experiencing grief, and loss, finding ways to live with our fears and worries in a way that they can be included, and perhaps,…

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November 24, 2021

The Blessing of Being Grateful

Tomorrow gives us an “official” day for giving thanks… …for giving thanks for all the aspects and dimensions of our lives for which we are grateful. In her book, Wake Up Grateful, based in Brother David Steindl‑Rast’s teachings, Kristi Nelson suggests we bring gratefulness or “great fullness” to our everyday, ordinary, reality. What if we bring gratefulness to being alive, to waking up each morning, to taking our first breath of each day, to our family, to those who have passed, to those of us who are still present? What if we were to BRING our created gratefulness to all the events…

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November 9, 2021

Happy Isles

Being in Yosemite National Park with my parents was one of the first memories that I have. Here, you see a photo of my father, most likely taken the first time my parents took me to Yosemite, at Happy Isles, where the Merced River flows from the High Sierra Mountains on its way to the sea. I was about one year old. All my senses awakened there, in the beauty of nature and that Great Land. I remember that my whole body felt Happy, Awake, Alive. I returned every year. My favorite, favorite place there, amid so much beauty, was…

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October 12, 2021

Ignition

Outside, it is still dark. The coming season of inner and outer darkness calls to us to drop down deep, where the flame of our own inner wisdom is lit and enough to guide our way. It is a time for Listening. To what do I listen> I listen to Mary Oliver singing her life, and my life, into joy, amazement, astonishment each pre – dawn morning as I rise to greet the day. I listen to the objects all around me from my travels, speak to me of lands that I have loved. I listen to the heron fishing…

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September 27, 2021

Patience

“You can’t do good work if you are impatient,” my husband, songwriter and producer of his first CD recording of his original songs, says to me. “You have got to get the patience thing handled,” he says, referring to the pace at which the project is being completed. True, enough. This also applies to me. You could also call this moment, although it may seem somewhat incomprehensible or esoteric, “leaning into surrendering to the unfolding conversation of the universe.” Those are big words and may sound odd. At the same time, if you lean into them, you might get what…

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September 15, 2021

Let the Way Open

Last summer, on a quiet day, a sailboat made its way past the island in front of our cabin. It seemed to glide effortlessly as it caught the wind, its sails billowing. The energy of the universe, and of Grace, moves through us in just that way. However, to tap into it, we need to raise our sails, as well. We also (and this is hard for most of us) must surrender, or let go of needing to control, which need stops us from accessing that flow. Sometimes, it is hard to let go of control. And it is exactly…

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August 31, 2021

Wounded Healer

In David Whyte’s book, Crossing The Unknown Sea, Brother David Steindl‑Rast says to him, “The antidote to exhaustion is wholeheartedness.” What an amazing thought to ponder. This is a story about wholeheartedness. In the heart of the forest is a wounded tree. This tree is located in the magical, mystical forest of Glenstal Abbey, in County Limerick, Ireland, and we were led there by one of the Benedictine monks, Brother Anthony, who guarded the forest with his love. The tree was a total surprise. My husband and I were journeying with Turas D’Anam, which in Irish, means “Journey of the Soul,” in…

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August 17, 2021

Letting Silence Speak

I have just returned to the mainland from Isle Royale National Park, where, with Practice, you can tune into the Silence. Nature does that for me, if I approach Nature as my Teacher and my guide, with an appropriate reverence, humility, and longing. Though “letting silence speak” may sound like an oxymoron, it is not. And though you may think I can describe what Silence speaking sounds like, I cannot. Not really. Not if you want a direct experience. A direct experience, which is after all what matters, is beyond understanding, and a description is the language of understanding. It…

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August 3, 2021

Sleeping on Isle Royale

As you read this posting, I will be in Isle Royale National Park, where the pristine wilderness – the sounds of the day, and the deep blue silence of the night, can seep into my soul and speak to me, bring me on an inner journey where, like a pilgrim, I find myself anew. Still at home, I am beginning to prepare: to prepare to being open, receptive to the land and the lake and the sky; to prepare myself for the gift of Observation, to being present, to bringing myself into the amazing land of Wonder, where the trees…

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July 20, 2021

Awakening the Muse

We are in what many indigenous people call “liminal space” – a space between rooms, a space of infinite possibility. As we gradually make our way out of the last year and a half of our lives, stepping into, and creating, our new, future, may we do so consciously, intentionally, wisely, lovingly. Let us not think about “returning” or “getting back to normal.” Perhaps, just perhaps, there is no “normal,” and there is no “going back.” Let us stop, and listen, and then move forward, following our intuition to guide our way, shedding what must be shed along the way,…

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July 6, 2021

Come Dance with me Tomorrow!

The other day, I was sitting on the back deck, with my husband, and noticed I was not hearing what he was saying to me. Instead, I was listening to myself talking to myself! The minute I noticed, I shifted gears and started listening, intentionally. I got curious about what he was saying. I listened for discovering something new in what he was saying, and to be surprised by it, contributed to, by it. Sharing together, our conversation took us to a place that neither of us had been before we started conversing. Did you know that the root for…

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June 22, 2021

Being an Opening for Invitations

While we may think we know how life will unfold from here, if we tell ourselves the truth, we have absolutely no idea. I have learned many things during our experience with Covid, one of which is this: we cannot predict the future. While we human beings have an enormous resistance to uncertainty, uncertainty has been our home these last twelve months, and still will be. So, the question becomes: who do we need to be to live in this home, strong, inspired, enlivened? Boris Pasternak said, “Surprise is the great gift which life can grant us.” If we were…

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June 8, 2021

Hiding is Given a Bad Rap

We are so filled with prescriptions for positivity, that sometimes we forget to include, to allow for, to put our arms around, all those parts of ourselves that are hurting, that are lamenting, that are grieving, to be with what has ended, and embrace those parts of our lives, or ourselves, that it is now time to let go. As I say in one of my poems, “Heartbreak,” in my book, Crossing Thresholds, Island Reflections, pain not honored or fully experienced hides in the years, hides in our body/mind, goes underground, and so we live with a brittle heart, not…

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May 25, 2021

Magnificent Magnolia Morning

Each morning, before I go to my office, in my morning practice of drinking tea, and reading poetry, and writing, with an intention to “get out of my head” and “get out of my plans” and move into the natural world “out here,” something new clicks for me. The morning, noticing the bright red rhododendron blossoming near the greening of the leaves, and the waning petals of my magnolia tree, the poem, “Magnificent Magnolia Morning” came my way, opening the territory for me to reflect upon the impermanence of all things. Even though we often avoid it, or deny it,…

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May 11, 2021

Peony Serendipity

Several weeks ago, I was staying in a lodge in Southern Washington where my husband and I would be attending a Creativity Painting session the next day. Never considering myself much of a painter, I thought I would enjoy stretching some new creativity muscles, leaning into the “unknown,” letting go of my own painting critic, who has been with me since grade school, and inviting the Painting Muse in. The night before that painting session, a poem came to me, quite suddenly, and I wrote it down. Peonies were at the center of that poem. I could not recall what…

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April 27, 2021

Blessing for the Blossoming

A blessing is a special speaking, and a special listening, or, as John O’Donohue says, in To Bless the Space between Us, “a gracious invocation where the human heart pleads with the divine heart, cries out to its divine ground.” Today’s poem, Blessing for the Blossoming, comes right out of my own, current journey. We have a magnolia tree in our yard, which is springing into spring!!! Like the magnolia tree, I sense a gradual awakening in my own heart, my own spirit, and I ask for that, as well. Like a pilgrim, each morning, I walk the uneven path…

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April 13, 2021

Tapping into Your Creativity

Most recently, one of the Great Lessons I am being taught, during this Covid Crisis, is to stay true to the Creative Voice that is my own. To do that, I need to set aside my critic, and listen, deeply, to my own wisdom, my own intuition, my own deep heart knowledge, that speaks to me when I go deep into my own, inner Silence, the Silence that awaits me when I let go of identifying with my thinking mind. The mind is so loud, with its positions, opinions, judgments, beliefs, need to be right, need to make others wrong,…

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March 30, 2021

The Power of Words

Normally, we think of language as a place to describe, report on, analyze, instruct, prescribe, conceptualize. Our words refer to something that “IS” – out there. And we are just reporting on it. Theologian Abraham Heschel has said, “Words create worlds. However, we can generate another relationship with language. Language can also CREATE. Martin Heidegger, a 19th century philosopher, said, “Language is the house of being. In its home, man dwells. Those who think, and those who create, are the guardians of this home.” With creating our words, we create our world, give rise to who we are in whatever…

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March 17, 2021

Come Home to Your Self

There are journeys we must take. As thinking beings, they are part of our “required curriculum.” Connecting with our authenticity, our purpose in life, our gifts, and what gives us meaning is one of them. During this unprecedented time on earth, when the very ground we are used to standing on so solidly is shifting each day, where our time for traveling outward is restricted, we come to find that the old shorelines that used to mark our way are no longer available to guide us. Now, it is time to take another kind of journey, one that takes us…

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March 3, 2021

Coming into the Peace of Wild Things

“Every human being comes to earth with sealed orders.” Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard said that. A good question is, “What are your sealed orders?” I feel that one of my “sealed orders” is to go into the wilderness, and, through being fully Present, noticing, and not buying into, the chatter in my mind, I can hear the speaking of the world. And that speaking informs me, delights me, enlivens me, brings me to a new level of wisdom and care for all things. Poet Wendell Barry shares with us in one of his poems that when “despair for the world…

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February 16, 2021

Threshold Crossing Birthday

February 9, was my 76th birthday. My husband and I took a journey to the Olympic Rainforest, to Lake Quinault, staying at the lodge for a couple of nights. One morning, Don and I hiked up to the Falls’ Creek waterfall. Not having hiked like that in over a year, I was having a struggle, walking up hill, breathing hard. We almost stopped, before making it to the Falls. As the cascades we were seeing were so beautiful, we thought we had reached the top. Just as we were perhaps 10 steps away from the top of the hiking path,…

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February 2, 2021

Let in the Light

When we, creatively, intentionally, consciously, “breathe in the light,” the darkness begins to dissipate. Can you hear and see and feel and touch the lightness now coming our way? If not, perhaps it’s time for you to turn your face away from the computer screen, as I was called to do, by the Red‑tailed Hawk, and the breaker waves from North to South, and the sound of the winds in trees, and listen! Listen to a new song! Listen to a new Voice. Listen to the Music of the Wind. Listen to the possibility of Breathing. Light dispels darkness. Where…

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January 18, 2021

For Giving Endings

Today is a time for completion.  We are ending one era of our lives, here in America, and beginning another.  We are ending one year of our lives, here on the planet, a year of great disruption, grief, chaos, change, and unpredictability, and opening ourselves to learning commensurate lessons that come from us wanting to be ALIVE and vibrant, even as we move through this pandemic – lessons in resiliency, fluidity, in being centered, in gratefulness, and in faith. Often when something is ending, we find, in that ending, the inkling of a new beginning.  And yet, while the future…

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January 5, 2021

The Long Pause

The trees long to see the land, to come out from underneath the fog. And when the fog parts, even for a brief moment, a world of possibility opens. Grateful, alert to the day, surprised and astonished by what they see, a new threshold beckons and a new life begins. As we enter, you and I, the year 2021, a new world awakens. Not yet clear what world will greet us on the other side of this migration we are in, this year‑long (and more) winter of hibernation, of cocooning, we can, still begin to ask our questions: What conversation…

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December 22, 2020

As We End this Year

I have been asking myself, “What conversation or conversations allow me to create completion around the year, 2020.” What an incredible, unprecedented year this has been! Most of us experienced a certain momentum going into this year. I know I did, and when March entered into our lives, my life, our lives, we were turned upside down. Asking myself, early on, “What is being asked of me? What lessons does this new ‘required curriculum’ we must move through in our lives, individually and collectively, give us an opportunity to now learn?” was a nourishing question with which to move through…

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December 8, 2020

The Beckoning

Each season’s passing marks a new season’s beginning. Each era of our lives has its own challenges, which challenges become teachings; its own griefs, which griefs open our hearts to compassion; its own sorrows, which sorrows, when embraced intentionally as gifts themselves, when fully experienced, allow for the burgeoning of joy, and open us into gratitude, gratefulness, and Grace. This is a time of threshold crossings for us all, a time for healing, for harmoniousness, for making whole, with abundant heart, abundant awareness, and abundant courage, as we lean into and explore, like great adventurers, the conversations that can guide…

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December 2, 2020

Crossing Thresholds:
 A New Opening
Drop Down Deep

“The antidote to exhaustion is not rest,” Brother David tells David Whyte, in the book, Crossing the Unknown Sea. “The antidote to exhaustion is not rest,” David repeats woodenly. “What is it then?” And then, Brother David says one of the wisest things I have ever heard him say: “The antidote to exhaustion is wholeheartedness.” I WHOLEHEARTEDLY INVITE YOU to wholeheartedly devote yourself to gifting yourself with making a surprising, enriching, Life Giving, Enlightening, Awakening, personal threshold crossing, one that lights up your life, in the first part of 2021 through a choice of two virtual, fully community‑based conversations. While…

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November 24, 2020

Gratitude

While this is a time for Giving Gratitude, what does this mean? Certainly not just saying the words alone, but imbuing the words with the meaning behind those words. In what ways can we arrive into the Spirit of Gratitude, we might ask? Is it even all right, now, in these times, to arrive into Gratitude, when all around us, there are so many challenges, anger, hurt, disappointment, tension? And yet, in these dark times, growing even darker through the passing of each day, into the season of winter, the Light of Gratitude can be a beacon for us all,…

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November 9, 2020

Reflective Journaling and the Creative Imagination

My poetry corner is a sacred space for me, into which I enter every morning, before anything. There, I allow the poetic imagination to speak to me and to speak for me, and I listen, deeply, to whatever comes, and then take pen to paper. The touchstones and keepsakes, mementos, from my travels all over the world, remind me that wherever I go, I belong. Whether it is the colorful cup that looks like a Gaudi wall in a house in Barcelona, or coasters with fine precious stones cut by the men whose ancestors built the Taj Mahal, they bring…

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October 26, 2020

Song of Wonder

When we stop, when we still ourselves, when we attend, with full Presence, to the ordinariness of the world, the world becomes extraordinary. Move into letting yourself rest in, become one with, nature, and see where that takes you. You will, most likely, find that that path takes you into an inner journey where you meet your muse, your own fire of creativity, your own silence. When we quiet long enough, we deepen our own capacity to hear, and the world can teach us, can reach us. We can live in life being “a bride to amazement,” as Mary Oliver…

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October 14, 2020

Our Heart Knows the Way

In these days of little traveling outward, and, perhaps, deep traveling inward, we come to find that the old shorelines that used to make our way are no longer available to guide us. Now, we need to find a new compass, a new rudder, so that we may paddle towards that horizon which is uniquely our own. Attending to our heart, we find, that our heart knows the way. When we stop, get quiet enough, and still enough, and listen deeply, we can connect with our heart, we can discern our Voice, we can discover our one true name. It…

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October 6, 2020

What is Your Place in the World?

“What is your place in the world?” is, perhaps, one of the most fundamental questions we can address, always. A question asked by poets, thinkers, philosophers, thinkers, theologians, during all times, this question begs to be addressed particularly during this time, as the ground is shaking every day, where there is no shoreline to mark our way, where the external circumstances, ever changing, do not provide us with any information about who WE were born to be. When we connect with our Selves, at our core, when we discern our own unique thread, we are able to make choices in…

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September 28, 2020

Tapping into Your Creativity

Most recently, one of the Great Lessons I am being taught, during this Covid Crisis, is to stay true to the Creative Voice that is my own. To do that, I need to set aside my critic, and listen, deeply, to my own wisdom that speaks to me when I go deep into my own, inner Silence, the Silence that awaits me when I let go of identifying with my thinking mind. The mind is so loud, with its positions, opinions, judgments, beliefs, need to be right, need to make others wrong, expectations, disappointments, regrets, worries, fears, and so forth.…

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