love you first

IMG_7244I don’t understand you. I don’t know who you are. I don’t know if it matters.

The best I can hope for is knowing me, and loving you. It’s just a mystery.

But if there is no knowing me, then there is no loving you. That’s not a mystery. It just is.

I cannot fix the pain in I see in your eyes. But look, look into mine, and see the joy there. Why, why not?

Love you. Love you first. I can wait. Smile first. The Buddha smile. Then, love me, smiling.

Snow fog, impromptu lakes, Ruiz and equal rights

IMG_7248Yeah, so the arctic blast was followed up this morning with lightning, thunder and rain. This afternoon, the warm temps are wafting what snow remains into fog. Elsewhere, the melted snow is flooding into seemingly spontaneous lakes, one of which is in my front yard, and others which are stretching across the roadways. Although the roads are for the most part clear, my driveway is a slippery, wet, icy mess. When I went to leave this morning, I backed up, applied the brakes, and …just… kept… going. Thought I would crash into something, but managed to avoid it. Ah, the joys of Michigan winters.

I was supposed to run with my buddies today once the lightning subsided, and I was all prepared to do it. Looking forward to it, in fact. There is nothing I like better than feeling all intrepid by running in weather. Nevertheless, power was out in some places and one of my buddies couldn’t get out of the garage and well, you know, …. run was cancelled. I suppose, I suppose I could have run anyway, but it just quashed all my ambition,

My thoughts are all over the map today. One is on a book I plan to read shortly, inspired by (thank you very much) a post from the delightful Disashi Soul. I like the premise of The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz as described on Amazon. 1. Be impeccable with your words. 2. Don’t take anything personally. 3. Don’t make assumptions. 4. Always do your best.  What’s not to like? I will read the book, and let you know.

IMG_7251Another thought on my mind, of course, completely unrelated. That would be the 26th Amendment to the Constitution. When I was in my teens, I remember campaigning for this constitutional amendment. I remember that with soldiers dying in Vietnam, it did not make sense to me that some of them never had the right to vote in the country for which they died. Others felt the same way, and ultimately the amendment giving the right to vote at 18 was ratified and adopted.

Okay. I still have issues. This time it would be with our inability to ratify and adopt the simple language of the Equal Rights Amendment. The ERA has languished for decades as our country can’t quite bring itself to say, “Yeah, we’re all equal.”  Really, what is wrong with us that we cannot, in all these years, manage to say that our constitution views us all equally, regardless of gender? It makes me feel embarrassed, ashamed for us. Everyone likes to act like we have this great, forward-thinking country, and yet the very basis of things is flawed because we can’t handle a simple step like this. And yes, this is on women as well as men.

Women, where are our voices? We’re a little more than half of the population of the country. We have jobs, we parent, we fight and die for our country, and yay, we can vote, but our own constitution stops short of acknowledging we are equal. The fact that the language as been on the line for decades but couldn’t quite get ratified tells us that at least some people believe we are not equal, and by their ability to hold sway, we are not.  Well, come on. This is just asinine. We may have ways we’re different, but we’re all people here.

Perhaps rather than attending Super Bowl parties we should be out campaigning for this very most fundamental issue that affects us and our progeny. How is it that we can all rally around inane things like the Super Bowl, but there’s precious little momentum for our rights, or for peace, justice, you know, that sort of thing?

This is not to disparage the efforts of those who do have the courage and focus to be out there on the issues, but it is a call for the rest of us to wake up.

And yes, there are plenty of men who get the equality issue. Nevertheless, all I keep hearing on this subject from the male, ahem,  leadership in this country is the furthering of crap legislation that is actively anti-woman. That would be from every level of government, including my own and other states’ shameful efforts against women, allowed to move apace despite pushback from the electorate. What the hell?  Or how about religious leadership that actively seeks to put women down and essentially, do them harm? Yeah, the Catholic male-led hierarchy may be leading the pack in this, but they have plenty of company across the board in organized religion. It’s. Not. Okay.

Find your voice. You can sign the petition to support the ERA here. It’s fundamental. It’s what civilized people want, male or female.

dreams return

handwriting practice, 8 yrs., J.

Today as I drove along, lost in my own thoughts, humming to music on the radio, it suddenly occurred to me that I really could dream again, that parts of me were indeed  beginning to engage on dream thoughts. I am delighted.

My dream thoughts are still murky, but I see trends.

Reading the log of my long-ago journey triggered all sorts of things for me. I had completely forgotten that I had taken the guitar, and played it, on the trip. I had totally forgotten that I used to easily understand the MAFORs and the Beaufort scale. That I routinely considered ebb and flow and riptides when planning a day’s journey. All the blue whales, humpbacks, belugas, pods of pilot whales that I had seen, the jet swooshing down the Saguenay, the bells I heard that made me cry below St. Anne de Beaupre. That I had seen Perce Rock from the sea.

I looked at images of Perce Rock online. I had a memory of it, but I was still astonished to realize I had seen it up close, from the sea. And, indeed, that day, in my log I noted my strange feelings about it – the realization that I was truly on an intrepid, mysterious adventure. As if all the ruggedness, the challenges, the unknowns had somehow escaped my notice until that day.

It would be kind of cool to see Perce Rock again.  Yeah, so there are places I want to go. And there are things I’d like to do.

Yes, the beginnings of dreams again. At last.

whales, waterspouts, wind

chart with course and fixes marked on it
from the log, down in Lake Erie
from the log, off the coast of Nova Scotia north of Owl’s Head

So with all this sorting and packing, I am discovering all sorts of little treasures, lost memories, happy mementos. Yesterday, I chanced upon the only remaining pages of the log I kept many, many years ago when I set out on a long sailing journey, double-handing a wooden yawl. It made me happy to see it.



For some reason, all that remains are some copied pages of the log, spanning about three months of time. The log picks up at Harbor Island heading into the North Channel at the top of Lake Huron and covers the trip to Owl’s Head Bay on the Atlantic coast of  Nova Scotia, via the St. Lawrence Seaway. The rest of the log, and the originals, are gone.

The rest of the log covered the rest of the trip, from Owl’s Head Bay all the way down the Atlantic coast to the Bahamas, then sojourning there for a few months before returning up the coast to the Hudson River and the Erie Canal. Those pages are forever gone, deliberately burnt in a fire long ago. Wish I had them now, though, because the incredible memories are getting fuzzy.

pen & ink I made of one of the views while sitting in harbor
pen & ink I made of one of the views while sitting in harbor


Anyway….. Fun to find these pages. I can see as I leaf through them how I grew comfortable with the cruising life, and how I enjoyed every damned day no matter the weather or the difficulties. Whales, waterspouts, wind, tides, locks, storms, mountains, fog, freighters, submerged rocks, cities, isolation, birds, people – it’s all there.

I was very alive, very aware. The whole point was the journey. It still is.

on hats and self compassion

IMG_7230As predicted, that “arctic blast” arrived several days ago and just spread itself all over everything. The cold is permeating our lives for awhile, so that we’re very conscious of our gratefulness in those moments when we’re cozy and warm.

I’m the kind of person who gets cold easily, so I am always bundling up against the weather. Even indoors, I buttress myself against the elements with sweaters and jackets, and on the worst days, a hat. And heading outside to brave the elements, I layer up, surrounding myself practically up to my nose with my jacket and two scarves and a hat. (Except, of course, on a run, when two tech shirts and a windbreaker do the job!)

I have an acquaintance that works hard every day, and is frequently out of doors. I never see him wear a hat or gloves against the cold. I complain to him that he needs to bundle up a little better. He scoffs at me, even as he sniffles with the head cold he has not been able to shake. I explain to him it’s about being good to himself, and that he deserves it. With a little further encouragement, he eventually gets himself a hat. Now, the trick is to get him to wear it. Being good to oneself is, for some of us, a difficult concept.

This is one of the roads I have been walking myself lately. My eyes were opened, of course, the hard way, to the essential of self-compassion. It is, obviously, about more than wearing a hat when it’s cold, but the hat makes a good reminder. I had to learn to recognize, acknowledge and honor when I hurt inside or have needs, emotional or otherwise. It sounds so ridiculously simple and natural and obvious, but for me self-compassion was truly a discovery and one I had difficulty embracing. We are not, however, put here on this earth to simply survive and suffer through it.

I am still learning self-compassion. It’s not about creature comforts or material things, but about allowing our feelings, setting boundaries, protecting and nurturing a vulnerable or wounded self. I validate that I am here, that I have feelings, and that the full spectrum that is me is okay.

Sometimes that concept may extend to things like making sure I get good nutrients, comfort or warmth, or pleasant experiences to the extent that it’s possible – simply being gentle and caring with myself.

So, oddly enough, I recognize myself in this business of wearing a hat. And whether this concept matters to my friend or not, I hope he will be good to himself – and wear a hat, dammit.

January run

IMG_7049Although the proverbial “arctic blast” is apparently bearing down on us, we were gifted this morning with relatively balmy temperatures for our run. One pair of gloves even did the trick. Not bad for January running in Michigan. Still, there were a few left over icy patches here and there, and one of my buddies took a tumble on one. She’s a trooper, though, and we still managed to cover close to six miles. It was a super run, followed up with hot chocolate and chocolate chip muffins. (Yeah, it was naughty, but we earned it, right?)

I have finally acknowledged to a few of my buddies that I am packing to leave. They are, true to form, supportive. They process this as we keep moving along, running the roads and the trails. Everyone seems to agree that this is a good place to leave, and they’d probably do it too if they had the chance.  It doesn’t make the whole thing any less scary.

How does one quite start over? Because I guess that’s the business I’m going about right now. It sounds very simple, bud-a-bing, but it’s not. The evolution of emotions that leads one over time to look around and realize that the things around them are just things, that life must be more than this amalgamation of what’s left, that the very most important treasures of life cannot be grasped and held, that there is, apparently, more to the story ….this evolution is profound and peaceful and disturbing and crazy and wonderful and horrible.

I would write about it all, but I ache, it hurts to feel these words that want to rise and flow through my fingertips. The cusp of change – it’s daunting, terrifying. I am so close I can taste it. What is happening is radical, intense. It will all look different when the dust settles.

At the same time, life just flows. So there I am. Running companionably along with my buds, chit chatting. Feeling the same cold air, the pavement under our feet. We recognize ourselves in each other in all the mundane and huge things we talk about, our laughter, commiseration. We watch each other change and grow, work things out, cope, rejoice – all as we keep the pace. The running itself has been both a catalyst and an anchor.

When I stop to think about it, the changes I have been privileged to witness in the other people in my running group have been profound and amazing and beautiful.

Why should I be any exception?

dream to sleep

dreamI am enfolded in arms. The space is aching with tenderness, peace. No words are spoken. I feel my breath, warm against a beating heart. Time passes, not pushed or pulled. Muscles slowly give up their hold as sleep tightens its own embrace … small, gentle spasms of calm release.  How is it that I remain wound in this strong embrace? The breath becomes long. It is given up to sleep. Still, there is no letting go.

When there are no dreams in sleep, is it my unconscious refusing to share? Unloved, ignored, stubbornly withholding its gifts. Well, have this gift. I bring the dreams to you. I can be cunning and beautiful, too.

I have already journeyed past. I have left many things behind. I have room now for more. Surprise. Like the light that travels from the sun and the stars, the thing you see before you is really just a memory.

No one knows. Phone rings. Appointments to keep. Faces. Papers. Motion. As if it’s real.

The beam is already shining, it’s traveling. You just can’t see it yet.

sheet music

sheetmusic1So in all my sorting out of stuff, my gaze traveled to my little stacks of sheet music – my fave pieces resting on the piano, and a whole stack of pages and books collecting dust nearby on a shelf. And I realized it had indeed been a long, long time since I had indulged myself by sitting down to play. In fact, over the years, I have only played occasionally for my own satisfaction. When I have, it has been alone, and sublime. Likesheetmusic2 my stitching, however, music has seemed a guilty pleasure.

As you can imagine, this does not make for “staying in practice.” Nevertheless, I sat myself down yesterday at the piano and played.  The cat dashed wildly through the room when my fingers began to explore the keys – startled by this new and large sound in what had formerly been a familiar, predictable space. I was startled myself.

So I wandered from Pachelbel to Debussy to Rachmaninoff, and, oddly enough, finished off with a whimsical trilling of “My Favorite Things.” Yes, my renditions didn’t exactly flow. I’m sure my timing was way off and my interpretation sorely lacking. Part way in to the Rachmaninoff I was astonished that I had ever mastered the piece at all, stumbling inelegantly to a halt.

And then here was this stack of music which included Cat Stevens, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Carole King, Simon & Garfunkel, American Pie. This stuff definitely shows the love, and it makes me happy just to see it, whether I remember how to play it or not.

It makes me kind of sad that I am severely out of practice, yet it doesn’t inspire me to start doing my scales and arpeggios. Perhaps that is just one of those things that I can acknowledge I have let go of, whether by accident or design,  and won’t get back. Sure, I can still play the basic stuff and the usual Christmas carols, but I’m not cracking my knuckles to do Clair de Lune.

sheetmusic3At the same time, I have had a thought in the back of my mind to revisit guitar. I never really gave it a good go. I still have the classic old guitar that Santa placed under the tree when I was like 12. I learned the basic chords, and a couple of songs, and that’s as far as it ever went. But, what the hey, why not now? I could sing along to my own guitar playing. I could even go places with it, like the beach or a park.

For all that I have resisted it, it is my belief that music is just plain good for the soul. I think part of the thing is that it brings us into the moment, and we are just there with it. If you’re playing or singing, there’s not much else you can be thinking about after all. That’s why, I guess, memories of certain moments in our lives are evoked by certain songs. Because we were really in that moment and it was time-stamped by whatever song was wafting through the air at the time.

So we’ll see. In the meantime, Love the One You’re With?


winterchairYes. I realize I am hibernating. It’s not exactly by choice, but it is by nature. Here in Michigan, we forge ahead every winter as if nothing’s any different. But, dammit, it’s cold and it’s dark. That’s just a fact. A good percentage of time, the roads just really shouldn’t be driven. We do it anyway. We do everything – anyway. We get up in the dark, go to work in the dark, and leave for home in the dark. I’ve really had it up to here. It’s the dark more than the cold that bothers me, but the whole cold thing cannot be ignored either.

I just checked, and they’re getting about 1.5 hours more daylight at the tip of Florida right now. Not that I’d like to move to Florida. But really.

Okay so this whole dark thing actually does have an effect on me. It makes me pull inward, and, yes, I just want to hibernate. So, I’m acknowledging it instead of trying to pretend it’s not happening. In that spirit, I spent the day nestled within the walls of my abode – packing to leave.  And it was very productive.

It’s not so much packing, as getting ready to pack up. I have to sort through my stuff and toss, donate, or prepare to take with. I made very good progress in this effort today. It’s getting less and less difficult to realize that I can part with most of the stuff I’ve been keeping around for, like, ever. And it feels great to simplify.

I have now galvanized in my determination to leave this place. If the dark winters and my own personal experience weren’t enough motivation, the Michigan legislature has sent a clear message to me that they neither value my opinion or existence, nor do they care if I or anyone else is able to get a job that can pay the bills. After their $1.7 billion gift to business, followed up nicely with Right to Work, and tax changes now taking effect, the regular working joe here in the state this year is paying more taxes and working longer and harder for less – if, indeed there is a job to be had. And if you’re a woman, they’ve spelled it out that you just don’t count, because they’ve taken away options for dominion over your own body – as if that was ever any of their business.  Education is being profitized, to what end we may all imagine. And, as for a simple little thing like the idea of a republic, the Michigan legislature made it clear during the wild ride of their lame duck session that they have nothing but utter contempt for the will of the voters. If anyone had any doubts about that, the reinstatement of the ‘tweaked’ Emergency Manager law after the voters specifically nixed it on referendum should have made that crystal clear.

So much for reinventing Michigan and bringing the economy back. It’s reinvented alright. Pure Michigan and all that. As far as I’m concerned, with this Neanderthal approach to governance, they may as well put up a dead end sign at the state line, or at least a warning for poor innocents to stay away. Certainly career-minded women anyway. Or students. Or seniors. Or just people who want a decent job and a career path.

So, I don’t mean to be all crabby about this, but there it is. I’d like to be all hopeful about it, but, you know, it is winter here. Like I mentioned.

Actually, I’m pretty happy right now despite it all. Sorting and packing is giving me some peace after a long struggle. Now that I’ve made up my mind, I’m going to try to expedite. It’s a big job, but it’s worth it. Indeed, it’s become imperative.

Oh, in other matters, had a great run yesterday with my crew. We covered about 6.5 miles, most of which was merely wet instead of out and out icy. It was a gift. The ice is back tomorrow.

thinking of Aaron

I have been reading today about the death by suicide of Aaron Swartz. This amazing person was only 26. He was obviously gifted, and apparently burdened with a sense of responsibility to our community, in the broad sense, that he could not help but act on. He applied his formidable talents and insights to make significant contributions,  to make things better in the world, and in some unconventional ways – something many people will never even dream to do.

And indeed why would they? For his efforts to free up information in service to all, Swartz was facing felony charges. A treasure in his own right, a person whose value and potential to us all was immense, was being fenced in, cornered, with intent to crush and imprison. How is it that a person with innovative, positive contributions bursting at the seams was not treasured and protected, but instead pinned down and threatened with jail? What exactly is it that we value?

While the federal prosecutor pursuing Swartz apparently boiled it down to “stealing is stealing,” somehow that same yardstick has not been applied to, say, Wallstreet bankers, who very clearly did not have the greater good in mind like Aaron did. And they’re just the first ones that happen to come to mind.

In Aaron’s tragic death, and the loss of his amazing potential, I think we must pause to consider our roles in this. We cannot leave the possibility of positive change to these singular brave people. It is simply too much. It is not enough to watch from a distance. We must gather behind them, and be the wind beneath their wings.

We must be willing to step out ourselves. We need to identify our true values, and stand by them. We need to use our gifts in their service.

I am sad beyond words about Aaron. Obviously, I do not know the whole story. I do know that we have lost a beautiful person – his brilliance and his creativity and his personal commitment. His fight for what is right, and, indeed, his battle with depression – those fights are our own, they are everyone’s.