"It's as if a great bird lives inside the stone of our days and since no sculptor can free it, it has to wait for the elements to wear us down, till it is free to fly." Mark Nepo

Thursday, October 27, 2016


For the first time since before my retirement over a year ago, my calendar is empty. Sure, there are the usual notations for yoga and walks and haircuts. A new every other week commitment to write with high school seniors. Lunch dates with friends. But no big adventure. I'm not particularly happy about this state of affairs, regardless of the fact that I'm the only one in charge of my life these days. It's only been three weeks since my last adventure with the Vashonistas on Vashon Island, but already I'm feeling the itch to go.

I've grounded myself, not as punishment or out of fear, but to catch my breath and to recharge. To process and absorb. To reflect and find places in my being for all that's happened in the last year. So that I can feel grounded again. Yet I feel twitchy, edgy, left behind. Like a detox. I also feel with absolute certainty that this is what my soul needs most of all right now.

I'm already missing summer, longing to return to any of the many islands that have provided the settings for my most recent adventures: Hawaii last winter, Vancouver Island this summer, Impala Isle in Texas, Orcas Island for a wedding, and Vashon Island for time with my sisters. Surrounded by water and friends and for all but the last two trips, sunshine and heat. I long to be on the small island of a raft floating the Colorado River held in the embrace of ancient stones and accompanied by people whose spirit of adventure matches my own. I long to have the next island to look forward to - New Zealand or Australia or the Galapagos.

Two friends (two of the Vashonistas) are in Greece right now, volunteering at a refugee camp. I was invited. I played with the idea seriously. I wanted to go badly. Greece is an island, my urging voice said. Look at all the islands in your life these days. It's a sign you should go. They need you there. You'd matter there. But somehow in the excitement of the conversations about one friend's return to the camp and the other's first trip, a quiet voice kept insisting that it was not the right time or the right choice for me for now. And so, reluctantly, I declined.

I stand now on home ground, being thoughtful and intentional with how I spend the hours of my days. Imposing a gentle structure that has at its core being present and honoring my writer self and resting. I look at travel sites (when I'm resting), and talk to traveling friends, thinking if I only had something on the calendar, I would be able to really relax and accept this grounding time with a whole heart. But then I would be looking forward - looking into the future and anticipating (with great pleasure) something that's going to happen.

It's not like the present is something I'm trying to escape. I love home. I love my life. I love the solitude and stillness of these days. The rain soothes. The soft breezes and songs of arriving winter birds lift my heart to the point of tears. Watching Toby chase scents through leaves his same exact color with joyous abandon makes me so grateful to be alive, to have him as he turns 9, to be able to appreciate the beauty that surrounds us on our walks. Even the shorter days offer gifts. I walk into yoga in the dark (6:00 a.m. class) and come out to sunrise. Several days recently I've driven home under glorious skies with precious metal flashes of light radiating against Impressionist gray clouds.

For now my feet carry me down familiar paths, and I release again and again the yearnings for more and different. I breathe in cottonwood, and wonder at perfect spider webs suspended in midair. Dogwood leaves, each leaf one perfect lick of flame, light my way. I marvel at mushrooms pushed through the hard earth, unfurling a little more each day, into glories of color and symmetry. Air and earth are sustenance enough. There will come again the time for a life surrounded by water and a heart on fire with new experiences, in love with a world so full of beauty and surprise it makes me want to live forever just so I don't miss one single sight or sound or smell.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Chairs on the Dock

Chairs on the dock look away
from the land
toward water
 toward the horizon line.

Empty or occupied,
the chairs sit facing away
from all that's known,
from certainty and history.

Buildings on foundations
they occupy a space that 
is both grounded and not:
the dock solid ground over
ever shifting fluidity,
waves lapping in and then out.

The chairs sit still, as chairs do,
as their occupants do.
But there is a sense of outward

Chairs on the dock can't follow the winds
or the waves
or the tides
or the sun setting in the west.

But they bear witness.

And if you sit in a chair on a dock,
that chair holds you in possibility.
Its longings awaken yours
so that you know you can 
fly or float or find your way.
You know it even as you still 
don't know how.

If you fall asleep, there will always 
be another chair
on another dock
looking out on a body of water - 
or at least this memory 
of the balmy fall evening
you sat in a lavender metal chair at the edge of a dock 
looking into a Texas sunset over
a softly breathing lake
and you felt you had arrived

Thank you, Julie, for providing the creative space from which this writing came, and the bottom picture.