bon voyage #WritePhoto

Photo courtesy of Sue Vincent

She looked up in November and saw they were leaving. The geese flew, silent against the grey sky, headed for their winter home. She lifted her mittened hand and waved.

“Au revoir!” she called out to them. “A bientot!” she never failed to add, counting on seeing their return in the spring. 

She always said something in French to them. After all, she thought whimsically, they were Canadian geese — some of them might speak French. And, indeed, she was rewarded with a couple of fleeting honks.

She continued on her solitary walk, happy to have seen them, but sorry to see them go. She felt a fresh pang of loneliness.

Months later, against the blue skies of a spring day, she spotted the beginning of their return. She loved the way they traveled together, looking out for each other, sharing the journey. She listened to their honking chatter as if they might be calling out her name. 

One hand to her brimming heart, and the other waving broadly, she cried, “Mes amis! Bienvenue!” Her whisper followed, “I missed you.”

In autumn, a day came she never thought she would see.

This time, when the geese called, two smiling faces turned upward together.

She felt her heart fill and overflow, grateful, amazed for this perfect moment. She felt herself soaring in the sky with all the beauty that now filled her world.

She waved to the geese. “Merci! Merci beaucoup!” she called to them. “Thank you from the bottom of my heart!” 

Her companion gently laughed in amusement, pulling her close, waving joyfully.


Many thanks to Sue Vincent for this week’s #WritePhoto prompt, “Soar.”

thru hike #WritePhoto

I open my eyes. Still tired. Notice the dew on the tent, the sun just beginning to work. Muscles aching, I wriggle out of my sleeping bag. 

I rub my sore feet before lacing up my dirty Altras. What, after all, am I wearing that isn’t dirty? I laugh to myself.

Down some chow, a protein bar will suffice for now. A swig of water. Break camp. Get everything in the pack, hoist it on my tired back. 

Time to hit the trail. I grab my poles.

Yesterday morning, I remember how excited I was to see that verdant green as I came over the ridge. The sunlit hills lay before me looking lush and inviting after my time in the forest. There was an incline, but the trail was easy pickings. 

The miles passed under my feet as the sun rose, arced over me, and then made its ponderous descent. I pulled my hat low.

As the day waned, I realized the trail was cresting. One foot in front of the other. Left. Right. I looked up as I reached the top.

I laughed out loud. Ruefully. Nature seems to enjoy cooking up all these surprises for me. There before me I saw what looked like the surface of the moon or maybe Mars: a harsh, monochromic terrain, strewn with boulders. It looked like a long, hard trek. I set up camp in the grassy field.

This morning, I look ahead as I approach the forbidding land. It is shrouded with heavy, damp air. The towering rock formations loom like surly titans patrolling the perimeter.

Go, though, I will. I have trudged these many miles alone, discovering my rightful place in this cryptic world both savage and beautiful. This is, after all, the point. 

Left. Right. Damn, this pack’s heavy.

One day, soon enough, I’ll crest another hill, and find myself back in the phantasmagoria that I used to call normal. The city lurks unseen, out there, like a distant planet for now — far more ominous and strange in many ways than these brooding rock behemoths.

Left. Right.


Thank you, Sue Vincent, for the inspiration of this week’s #WritePhoto prompt.

tracks made

veru12_26_18Christmas happened, and now the focus shifts to the new year. The news media helpfully supplies us with recaps ad infinitum of what went down in 2018. It isn’t pretty, either. Nevertheless, they will rush us along toward Times Square and the sparkling globe countdown to 2019.

Seems like a reasonable time to look back over one’s own year, the highs, the lows… the lessons. Always lessons, you know, always.

This was a pretty huge year for me, and it was not an easy one. I made some big changes in my life, and faced some harsh difficulties. Looking back, I can see that the effort was worth it.

Letting go:  The changes I made somehow allowed me to finally, finally let go of some things to which I had been desperately clutching. Letting go was a huge, difficult years-long lesson; or, perhaps, the lesson was that refusing to let go is unbearably painful and one owes it to oneself and others to find a way to let go.

“There is something in the pang of change, more than the heart can bear. Unhappiness remembering happiness.” Yep, Euripedes said that.

Courage: The changes I made took courage. Change does, in fact, take courage. And I found that I have lots of it. Good to know.

Perseverance: Yes, thankfully there are those angels that meet you on the path here and there, but ultimately you are alone on the journey. No one can take your steps for you – you’ve got to do the work. That said, the angels are critical to shine a light for you, make you see a bit of the path just ahead and help you see it’s possible. I hope I can do the same for others.

Discipline: I faced some health hiccups which served to remind me to take care of my physical self better. This basically translates to establishing better discipline to run or walk, and to make the effort to feed myself well. Discipline is a challenge in other areas as well, like, for example, creativity. Discipline is a hugely important area of exploration for me across the board.

Boundaries – a lesson I thought I had already learned – once again became a subject for which I am apparently doing a thesis or something. The adventure continues.

Failures: Failure happens. Mistakes really are made. Pick up. Dust off. Learn. Regroup. Smile. Charge on.

Compassion: I felt burdened all year long to find the ways that I could bring active compassion where it matters. This applied to myself, to others, and to the world.  The events in the news media I mentioned earlier – they matter in this respect, too. Rather than be daunted by the foreboding material presented, the challenge is to remain in compassion and to work for positive change.

As I reflect back, there’s lots more. This was a rather epic year for me. I guess, though, I’m still sort of getting it all into focus.

And there is the path ahead.  Hence, 2019.

epic journeys

veru11_28_18I stumbled upon a surprising and happy memory the other day.  Peggy’s Cove in Nova Scotia popped up in a post on Glenn and Lynn’s engaging Just A Bit Further blog.

I crossed paths with Peggy’s Cove many years ago while in the midst of an epic journey, double-handing a sailboat on a very long voyage. I wrote a little bit about it before here and here.

I carry many cherished images in my mind from that journey, Peggy’s Cove among them. Even more than the treasure trove of mental images, though, it’s the stories I love. In the end, it’s the elemental experience itself – the challenges and  unknowns I faced and weathered – that I prize.

That journey changed my life. It changed me.

There were so many life lessons and character forgings I could not quantify them.

That is what happens with epic journeys.

Not all epic journeys are lengthy ones. Sometimes it’s a few days or even a few hours. You know when you’ve been on one.

And every single time, you come out richer, wiser, closer to your own soul.

veru11_28_18bEarlier this year, I spent a couple of days hiking on the Pacific Crest Trail in California. I met some thru-hikers while I was there, and later I followed some of them via their vlogs. Talk about epic journeys!

It is amazing to see how these folks change and grow and adapt and meet challenges and face fear and injury and make friends as they hike those 2,650 miles.

A few years ago, I met a young man who set out to walk across the United States. His whole mission was to promote kindness – to oneself, to those we know, to strangers. Sharing a moment with him a little past his 1,000-mile mark in his solo trek made a surprising impact on me – a real-time glimpse into the power of his experience. By the way, he’s still on that mission, even though that particular journey’s over. Check out his website, Go Greater Good.

There’s travel, and then there’s epic journeys. Those are the ones that test you. The ones that demand you confront yourself. Learn your own amazing strength. Face your fears. See what really matters. Grow your resilience, fortitude, creativity, self confidence, determination, humility, compassion, capacity for joy.

They remind you that your own life is an epic journey.

I don’t think it’s about doing anything extreme or exotic, it’s mainly putting yourself in situations that call on you to respond with parts of yourself you may not know so well or that you resist.

Or maybe forgot.



I count curiosity as one of my core values. Over time, however, I have more and more retreated toward safety and sameness to the exclusion of curiosity. It doesn’t produce positive results. Reading books will only get you so far. Where we have core values, we’d best indulge.

It’s a funny thing – how easy it is to let your world get small. I understand what happened. There were forces at work that drove me into a safe, controlled, uninspiring space. The trouble came when I failed to emerge from that sheltered space.

If on some level I was seeking protection from hurtful things in life, that shelter as a long-term solution provides no respite. It is itself painful.  It’s not being fully alive. And it’s exhausting.

So, I am looking at making a move, at making my world big once again. I have been looking at it for months, not quite able to make the jump. It’s just too easy not to jump, and I am clearly fearful of the jump.

What precisely is scary about the jump? That I’d really like to understand. Is it just the unknown, the unpredictability? For Pete’s sake, it’s not like it’s outer space. Or is it the break itself, letting go of what you so thoroughly know, the comforts of habit? Maybe it’s failure, or perhaps success, that looms frighteningly before me. Not sure. And I can’t see how any of it really matters. Still, the anxiety is there.

Meantime, there goes life. From my window, I can see it. There it goes. I know it’s out there.

There’s just no excuse. Even I know that once I’ve jumped, everything will start clicking again. I am wired for it.

I think it’s a little like parachuting, and the whole thing would be a lot easier if the instructor went with me. There is, however, no instructor. Just me. And life.


IMG_9883It’s getting ridiculous. What patience the universe has – to tell me this story over and over and over, and over again. Today, once more, the universe and I must go through it again, once is not enough. We have to do it twice, no really, three times today – in one day!

These startling stories which in the end all turn out to be the same story. And aha. I think I am finally beginning to see it now. It is my story.atown2

The universe keeps presenting me with these stories, forcing me to be confronted by person after person who has done this amazing thing, had a vision, followed through, and been rewarded. People who have changed everything, and changed nothing at all.

But now the universe is getting very specific. It knows me, after all, all too well. Where before it had not escaped me that I was hearing the same thing over and over, now, the universe is delivering up details.

Dammit. The handwriting appears to be on the wall. And it is pushing me up against it at the same time.


dreams ago

I just don’t know how to let go of this place. I walk back toward the pond, glance toward the ancient barn, and two sand hill cranes fly silently, low above me. Back at the pond, the red-winged blackbird is fit to be tied, and hounds me all the way around the pond. The precious little pears are coming out on the pear trees. Over there is where John had the most amazing garden, he just seemed to know how to do it. Sometimes, he would take a lawn chair into the middle of it, and just sit there happily with his cowboy hat on. Hidden in the weeds by the pond is what’s left of the Monarch, at one time the sailboat of our Swallows and Amazons dreams. Upstairs in the barn is where the boys discovered the crated up model airplanes, and history was altered. How many treks did we make down to the back barn to look after the ponies and the goat? Often I was down there by the light of the moon, the barn cats were happy to see me, even if the coyotes howled.
Inside, it’s not the walls, it’s the floors. Where those little feet trod, and grew into big feet. Where projects were built. Where kittens and dogs were hugged. Some of the rooms are almost frozen in time, and it’s almost unbearable to look. And the rooms that are sort of emptied are still filled with memories, and the boxes that sit there spill over with them.
I sit here in this most silent of places and wonder. Where is home?

not. virtual.


Life. Is not virtual. Life is not virtual. Life.Is.Not.Virtual.

I’m the real thing. I’m alive. I’ve got it all. Feelings. Thoughts. Sex. Sensation. It’s all. Real.

When I see the empty windows. The wild style. The paint on the bricks. It’s real. I’m one hundred percent.
I’m the butterfly.  I gotta butterfly to be.
So you just go ahead. You do whatever it is you think gotta do. While you’re doing that, I’ll be living. You can catch up later on. Mebbe. Like I said.

That’s what it was all about anyway. Right?

Um. Do I know you?


It’s eerie and beautiful and sad. The wind lifts the grasses, the swallows dip low over the pond, over me. Everything is slightly overgrown, ebullient with spring. I approach, and a frog plops into the water. I walk through the puffball dandelions. Looking back you can’t see I’ve been there.

Everything is alive, growing, undaunted, but the place is haunted with a sadness. Oh, I guess that’s me. It’s like a ghost town now, the swallows are clearly annoyed to have their space intruded. The grapevine is mostly hidden in the encroaching grass.

I look towards the house, and for the first time ever give myself license to look at it as it might be, not as it is. If I could, what would I do? I walk through the now-hollow rooms and wonder the same thing.

The rooms are mostly empty except for boxes. I sit down and play the piano in that silent, silent space. No kids playing nearby. No cats or dogs wandering around. Absolute stillness interrupted by the sudden sounding of the keys.

It seems there is no happiness on either side of this equation. It seems.