building community

veru10_31_18bAs difficult as it is to watch the Squirrel Hill neighborhood come together in their grief, it also reminds us of what community means, and of the power of community.

Protestors in Pittsburgh carried signs with messages like, “We are all neighbors,” “Love not hate,” “Words matter.”

In their grief, these residents turned out to shun the divisive, hateful acts and messaging of which we have all had enough. They shunned the President’s visit as an act serving to co-opt the grieving into a photo op – a visit squeezed in between political rallies that have all too often been forums for negative messaging. (One imagines he likely would have been vilified for not visiting, too, specifically in the context of that messaging.)

It is a beautiful thing to see people pull together to share their difficulties, and to try the change the world for the better. It is beautiful to see living, breathing community – where each unique individual becomes a meaningful part of the whole.

veru10_31_18In between sad moments such as these, though, it seems as if community has largely gone missing – and we all suffer for it.

Fact is, every single one of us has been commodified by an increasingly oppressive system, and that the price on our employment, daily activities, speech, purchasing, opinions, dreams, education, recreation, nourishment, health or the lack of it, old age – stands between us and our neighbors. It keeps our heads down, eyes averted, words censored. It keeps us too busy, too worried, and to divided to join hands and hearts in true community.

I see it every day in the folks I pass as I run or walk. I am always astonished and saddened by the many good people who never see me smiling at them, who grimly choose not to respond to my greeting.

But the spark is there. We’re humans, and the spark is always there. The strife we are suffering with right now has its origins in the deliberate damping of that spark.

Let’s shield and fan that little spark until it glows and burns brightly.

As Rabbi Jeffrey Myers urged, “Speak words of love, speak words of decency and respect.”

If we comport ourselves in keeping with that very simple message, we will see our times change.

It is a question for each one of us to consider – how to truly show up, meet our neighbors, and build positive, caring communities. Thoughts?

doubling down on healthy habits

veru10_29_18bWith the arrival of cold and wet weather, the indoor heat and all that, I lately found myself – yes – doing battle with a cold. I haven’t had one in a long, long time. And this is not how I plan to do winter.

So, I’ve been hydrating more than usual, and trying to eat a little better. I dosed up on Zicam for a couple of days. And I’ve been keeping up with the running and walking.

I suspect, though, that my defenses were down more from stress than anything else. So, there is work to be done on managing that.

The first part of managing stress is the simple recognition of my lack of control. Usually, when situations present themselves, I find myself anxiously seeking to do something, to find a way to fix things, or to at least help. But sometimes, that’s just out of my hands, and I have to accept that.

Emotional stressors that are basically outside of my control mean that my job is simply to take care of myself while providing whatever support I can. If I cannot help the situation itself, I can at least stay strong for myself and others by taking good care of myself.

I like one of Louise Hay’s affirmations, “I allow my mind to relax and be at peace.” Just saying those words, “I let my mind relax,” reminds me just to sort of loosen my futile grip on things and breathe.

The other things I can do are to try to rest, exercise, and nourish and hydrate well. Nourishment is an area where I frequently falter.

Single living makes it all too easy to be a slacker. As a pretty conscious although imperfect vegan, I rarely eat anything that doesn’t have good nutritional value. Where I do have trouble sometimes is eating at all or eating a good variety.

I have used Cronometer enough to have a very good idea of the nutritional value of the things I generally eat in a day. Cronometer is super helpful for showing you what you’re getting in terms of vitamins, minerals, carbs, protein, fats, etc. 

The big issue is cooking. I find it difficult to be inspired to cook for myself. Some days, especially now that it’s cold, I have a hard time even making myself put a salad together – and that’s often my main meal in the warm weather season.

I look up recipes to try, but when it comes right down to it, I just don’t care enough to spend time on it. This makes for some really lame meals. It’s a conundrum.

Grocery shopping is also always met with inner resistance. Thus, it is no surprise when I look about my kitchen and find a pretty paltry selection from which to put together a decent meal.

This is one area, though, that I can really work on in establishing a healthy front as we lurch towards winter.  I do not intend to tolerate ill health if there’s anything I can do about it.

Ah, what would Louise have to say right about now? I suspect, and I affirm, “I take excellent care of myself, and I enjoy wonderful health!” Or, perhaps, “I enjoy preparing nutritious meals to fuel my healthy body.” 🙂

rain run

veru10_29_18It starts out as just a sort of misty sprinkling. About the end of mile two, it’s a full-on rain.

Since it’s about 40 degrees out, I wear a couple of layers, including my windbreaker, along with a hat. And, of course, I wear my new running shoes. I tuck my phone into a plastic bag in my pocket.

I love running in the rain. It underscores intent and purpose. It’s deliberate. You know you mean it. You’re standing by your commitment. Nobody else is out. It’s just you and the elements.

Actually, it feels free. It feels real. No umbrella, no taking cover under a roof. No wondering how your hair or anything else looks. It’s just mixing it up with exactly what’s happening out in the open air.

You feel the raindrops on your face, cold and bitey. You try to keep various parts of you dry for awhile, but eventually give up. Although I have to say, the windbreaker definitely does its job.

As long as you keep moving, you stay warm enough, and it feels good.

Post-run, it’s a different story. The full sogginess of things finally becomes apparent. Socks are soaked and feet are cold. Everything, actually, finally starts to feel cold après run. Hat, gloves, jacket, pants, yup, everything gets quickly hung up somewhere to dry out in the hurry to get warmed up.

And that hot shower?

Whoa, you know you earned how good that feels.


step into the light


Who is not weary with the state of our world these days?

Another week passes in which violent acts and the rhetoric of violence, hate, and fear ratchet up yet further. My heart breaks for the victims and their friends and families.

This senselessness is not visited on our society by accident.

We cannot allow ourselves to be intimidated by this steady diet of fear and foment. We cannot shrink in fear, take cover, or button up in self-censorship before the emboldened bullying and horrific cowardly acts.

This is a time to walk, always and obviously, in love and respect. We need to show our true colors, love and respect.

It was just a week ago that the Women’s March on the Pentagon happened and received pretty much zero coverage in mainstream media. This was a demonstration and launch of a movement in support of peace in this world.

Could it be that there are those who just don’t really want us to be aware of our strength? To be aware that our values of love, respect, justice, and peace are met in each other and shared by so many? To realize our power in those shared values?

We need to force that hand with ongoing, persistent displays, both individual and collective, of what most of us are really about and what we really support – love and respect, peace and justice.

I remember a time not so many years ago that I planted a sign in my yard that simply said, “Peace.” This was so infuriating to certain elements in the area, that the sign was repeatedly ripped out or stolen in the dead of night. The word “Peace” was somehow a threat to those elements.

What if everyone who seeks and supports peace, love, and respect in this world simply showed it?

Although it’s most of us, we’re a pretty quiet bunch – and certainly in terms of media coverage.

Fact is, though, it is most of us, by far. And if we can just wake up, stand together, raise our non-violent voices, and use our unique gifts to express the message of love and respect, we will find we are stronger and more powerful than the dark forces that have seized the stage.

The oft-quoted thought by John Stuart Mill remains as true as ever: “Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.”

And Martin Luther King, Jr.’s observation remains sadly relevant: “The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.”

We all share this space on our planet. “Every man for himself” is not a productive strategy.

Let’s change the discourse. Let’s move away from the steady stream of vile rhetoric and behaviors to which we have become all too much accustomed and somehow tolerant. Let’s just not stand for it.

We need to speak in the light. Our words should reflect the intelligence and wisdom of the ages. We have the benefit of thousands of years of human history, after all. Violence and the language of violence solve nothing. They never have.

Let us go out of our way to step proudly and openly into the light for peace, love, respect, justice.

Stand firmly there. You won’t be alone.

New kicks


It was time.

There were just so many miles on my beloved running shoes. I mean, we were totally bonded. All that bonding took its toll.

My bedraggled, worn out shoes originally came into my life as a delightful surprise. One day, I headed into the running store to meet up and head out on a run. Upon arrival, the store owner told me that, courtesy of my son, I should pick out a pair of new shoes. Turns out that my awesome son had remembered my birthday and managed to think of the absolutely perfect surprise for me. He had called from out of state to my fave store and made the arrangements.

My son may not have envisioned the little impromptu party that went along with it (or maybe he did). Here were my running buddies, all of them also delighted by my son’s thoughtfulness. And then, the ensuing birthday wishes and, of course, shoe shopping. Ultimately, there was a get-together at the local brew spot. It was all very festive.

Those shoes went with me through wind, rain, and snow. They crossed finish lines. They bore witness to my tears, expletives, affirmations, and joyous aha moments. They were there when the geese flew over, when the butterflies circled, when the birds sang, when the alligators made their silent dare.

So many amazing memories, but emotional attachment cannot stand in the way of good, safe running.

Uhm, can it?

As I mentioned, it was time.

In a new-to-me town here, I made my first venture into the local running store in search of new shoes. I came out with just what I wanted, and so far, so good. Got the Altra Escalante, zero-drop, roomy toe box. Kind of weird to feel the cushion in there – feels very self-indulgent, but I think I’ll adjust. And I also understand these kicks to be vegan-friendly.

The shoes are not inexpensive to me, but they are important to me. It is a good thing that I could allow myself to make this a priority.

In a world that seems to be getting a little crazier by the day, it’s important to stay centered and hold peace in intention. Don’t ask me why or how, but my locomotion is part of how I make that happen.

So. Time to break in the new kicks.

sunshine and shadow

veru10_24_18bA really nice run late in the day.

It started out kind of rough.

I was really aware of how closed and tight my body was feeling. I focused on relaxing. I paid attention to my breathing.

My mind was all over the map and anxious. I decided to count the entire run – very slowly. This leaves very little room for, you know, thinking. I noticed that counting slower improved my pace, too. Go figure.

It was chilly out, but the sun was shining. Where I was running in shadow, it felt cold. Where I was running in sunshine, though, I could really feel the warm. I started noticing the light and the dark as I approached them.

It reminded me of one of the first quilts I ever made – a simple variation of an Amish Sunshine and Shadow pattern. Lots of bright colors juxtaposed with black. Everything, of course, solid colors.

After I got going long enough, I unzipped my windbreaker, and my hat actually made things too warm.

I found that by the end of my run, I felt relaxed and my mind had settled down. I looked up at the blue sky and felt grateful.

So many reasons to run.



Super tired this evening, but I made myself lace up and get out the door anyway. The brimming moon showed itself as I made my slow progress, filling me with a happy wonder. Here and there the autumn leaves lit up the trees. The cool air soothed.

My thoughts loosed and flew free under that big moon. So much to see, to feel – and to think I would have missed it if I had given in to my fatigue and shuttered myself in for the evening. 

By the way, it’s not quite a full moon – that happens on Oct. 24. Turns out it’s called the Hunter’s Moon, so named for shedding light on autumn prey.

This also happens to be the time of the Orionid meteor showers. Gotta love those shooting stars!

So many amazing things out there in the universe, if we just take the time to look.


simply connected

veru10_22_18.jpgOut the blue, an old friend calls after many months. It’s as if a lifetime happened in the interim. There’s not much bother catching up, because who can explain all that? And does it matter?

Not really. Because what matters is the connection, the recognition of another soul that is still somehow kindred despite time and distance and perspectives.

Thank you, kind friend, for reminding me. The experiences we shared, our reflections then and now, burbled right back up to the surface. The simple recollections of our shared past are like little bells sounding a joyful alarm.

That was you. That was me.

That is you. That is me. Still. How easily time slips through our hands but look at the amazing constants! 

And thank you, too, for acknowledging our differences – we certainly had them then and still do now. Somehow, we transcend them.

After all, even in our differences, we ultimately share the same concerns.

Don’t we all?

Antiwar/Peace initiative gears up this weekend


Peace. What a concept.

This weekend, anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan and many other peace-minded souls are participating in the Women’s March on the Pentagon.  The event brings focus to the wars and militarism that we fund and in which we participate around the world. It shines a light on the many ways our rampant militarism negatively impacts us, others, and the earth.

It’s time to rethink all that. It’s long overdue, even as our Congress has yet again just recently funded those operations to the tune of $700 billion with bipartisan support. And for so many folks, the media circus prevents us from even really noticing that mind-numbing budget or all that is going on in our name and with our tax dollars.

The Women’s March on the Pentagon hopes to raise the visibility of destructive militarism, and to turn our heads towards peace. On their website, they describe their genesis:

In response to the continuing march of military aggression by the USA and to put an antiwar agenda back on the table of activists, we are calling for a Women’s (and allies) March on the Pentagon on the 51st anniversary of the 1967 big antiwar event in Washington D.C. and subsequent march on the Pentagon that had 50,000 people!

The initiative seeks to end the wars abroad, close foreign bases, and dramatically slash the Pentagon budget to fund healthy social programs at home.


I checked to see if there might be some local events held in concert with the one in DC. Here in Michigan, crickets. (And I didn’t get my act together in time to organize anything.) Nor was it easy to find mention of the event.

However, here in Michigan, we do have the Michigan/Michigan State football game today. The Ann Arbor stadium averages over 112,000 people in attendance for one of these autumn matchups.

Imagine if 112,000 people got together to raise their voices for peace.

Instead, that throng of people will watch as the padded and helmeted players take the field, playing offense and defense in a startlingly obvious metaphor for military battle. The marching band with its militaristic drumming, formations, and flag-waving waits in the wings for halftime. People cheer for the fight, singing what’s aptly known as a fight song.

“Hail to the victors valiant. Hail to the conquering heroes….” as I recall from my days there.

Similar scenes play out in stadiums all over the United States, over and over again.

If only we could generate that kind of enthusiasm in the name of PEACE!

You go, Cindy and the other peace leaders in DC today! I hope that this weekend’s event gets some visibility and traction, and that more and more people wake up and hop on the peace train. I am on board.

remembering who you are – the toolbox


I still struggle against unhealthy patterns learned early on in life and in a long-term abusive relationship. The objective is always to remember who I am, and to honor that. That’s not always as easy as it might sound.

veru10_18_18aThere’s been a tremendous amount of work and education sorting it out. Along this journey, I’ve realized there are a few essential things that facilitate the process in a practical way – my tools, if you will.

My toolbox contains six go-to items that reliably help me remember who I am. I try to ‘touch’ my tools every day. (As a quilter, I remember a maxim that one should at least touch their current quilting project every day. The logic was that if you took time out to stop and touch your project, you couldn’t help but be drawn in to working on it no matter how busy or crazy your day was.)

So here are the tools in my toolbox right now:

  • Write

Writing is essential to me, whether I am journaling or writing for publication. The act of writing helps me to process and organize thoughts, to explore issues, and to connect. I write lots of different ways. Even when I am not writing, I am making notes. Writing also relates to photography, making me more aware of what I see in a day, and what matters to me.

  • Run

If I’m not running, or at least walking, it is a clear signal that I have shut the door on my self. Running is an amazing gateway to remembering who I am. It is a meditative process which engages my body and all its memories. When I run, I am very present. I am able to quiet the noise of the inner critic, and to just see what’s there. I am so grateful to have discovered this tool. It is indispensable.

  • Make

Creativity is at the core of who I am. This relates to writing, but it also relates to hands-on, tactile creative acts. I learned to sew when I was 12 years old, and the process of creating things from textiles has been a part of me ever since. Pen and ink is another medium to which I am always drawn. Building things, using tools, always satisfies. I love to express and to give through creative acts, but this is an area into which it is often very difficult to allow myself.

  • Nature

Oddly, it took me awhile to recognize my real need to be in nature. Nature is absolutely restorative. It brings me back to one. All of my running and walking is done outside, which is part of the reason it is such a profoundly centering experience. I love to feel the wind, the rain, the snow. I love the trees, the birds, the wooly bears, the Monarchs. When I am in nature, I am home.

  • Nourish

If one honors one self, this most basic act of properly nourishing one’s self must be addressed. I have noticed that, like running, when I stop eating and hydrating well, I have turned away from remembering who I am. It is, obviously, fundamental. This is a far more complicated topic than it might appear, because it touches on so many big issues from physical to spiritual, environmental, gender, ethics, and more.

  • Connect

Given the destructive patterns established early on for me, I struggle with connection. I do find ways to connect through all the other tools in the box, though. For example, at times, when I may have difficulty actually connecting with other people around me, I may connect by writing and/or publishing. I recognize, nevertheless, how important it is to be connected with other folks and with my self.  It is something at which I must consciously and deliberately work since my self has learned so well to simply hide. Running, creating, hiking, food are avenues to connection. I stay mindful of this. I am gentle with myself about this, though. This tool is not always easy to use, but it’s essential. Spiritual connection is also integral to, well, everything.

There’s a lot more I could say about each one of these areas.veru10_18_18c

One of my little ‘grounding’ reminders is to sort of count off my first five tools on the fingers of my hand – write, run, make, nature, nourish. Then, I put my hand against my heart to remember: ‘connect’. My little mantra helps to remind me that I have these tools, and to look for ways to employ them each day.

When I honor who I am, I am the best I can be for others.

What’s in your toolbox?