How are we affected by a smile?

Thich Nhat Hanh inspires reflection, exploration and contemplation with  Breathing in, I calm my body. Breathing out, I smile.” 

Exhaling, I play with how deeply from within the smile comes. 

How far does it extend?

Is there a bow of connection with in and out?

I’m reminded of the book Zen in the Art of Archery by Eugen Herrigel.

In archery, the hitter and the hit are no longer two opposing objects, but are one reality.

That brings me to Frederick Franck:

While drawing grasses I learn nothing ‘about’ grass, but wake up to the wonder that there is grass at all.

Frederick Franck: I know artists whose medium is life itself, and who express the inexpressible without brush, pencil, chisel or guitar. They neither paint nor dance. Their medium is Being. Whatever their hand touches has increased life…. They are the artists of being alive.

Ah, to be an artist of being alive, and with that,  “breathing in, I calm my body.  Breathing out, I smile.”

Smiles are Everywhere – Commonweal


It’s gray and wet today and I feel myself wrapped in a blanket of fullness, of knowing enough, as though not one more thing can enter.  Of course, that’s this moment.  Perhaps that acknowledgment brings change, or not.

I wonder what these early days in January ask of us, what we ask of them.  Years ago, I signed up for a yoga class with the intention to start the New Year “right”, but then the instructor spoke of this as a fallow time of year, and she kept the lights low, and we moved slowly and mainly rested on our mat.

I’m guided by these words of Rumi: 

“Let yourself be silently drawn by what you love. It will not lead you astray.”

I focus on the word retreat, and settle into the sound and meaning of the word treat, guided so gently by what I love. On the top of the mountain yesterday, I felt held, and focused on two hands, two eyes, two ears, two so we can hold both life and death as passage and guide. I wondered why the two words ears and tears are so close as though we listen more clearly when we allow liquid to flow out of containment into a wider world, a world we share with acknowledgment of love and care.

One son, his wife, and my grandchild have Covid. I feel fragile in knowing all we share, tender in trusting they will be fine, knowing again there is a separation over which there is no control, only letting go.

Heart-shaped abalone shell in the center of the labyrinth

The Healing Power of Nature

As we deal with issues of life and death, I find it essential to turn to nature so today I did.  I share my rainy-day journey through pictures.   I walked the labyrinth listening to the sound of the ocean, birds, and cows and their calves mooing.

Looking up in the rain from the almost top of Mt. Tam
Moss on an Oak on the Mountain
Stinson Beach
View from Commonweal
Daffodils bloom in the rain
Approaching the Labyrinth
The Labyrinth – a place to balance and heal
Offerings in the center of the labyrinth
View from Commonweal in rain – it could be Ireland

The Sky This Morning

I looked up and though it was raining, there was a glow of rose everywhere.

I’m going up the mountain today to be spaciously aware with friends who are making the most challenging and difficult of health decisions right now. May we all be well and gently whole!

The Morning Sky


My intention for this new year is to listen, listen to myself, others, and the world. 

I just finished reading Etel Adnan’s book, Shifting the Silence.  An artist and writer, she was born in 1925 and passed November 14, 1921.  This book looks at aging and loss.  What is it when we lose someone to Alzheimer’s or death?

I’m struck by certain passages and sentences.

Etel Adnan:

Bach’s music is the needle of the cosmic balance.

This has taken me into the core of a silence that underlines the universe: underneath the mesh of sounds that never cease there’s a strange phenomena, a counter-reality, the rolling of silent matter.

Silence is a flower, it opens up, dilates, extends its texture, can grow, mutate, return on its steps.  It can watch other flowers grow and become what they are.  We’re at the turn of the year, I have to invite somebody or something.  The live thickness of the silence makes sounds free themselves and expand.  The year is turning, has turned. 2018 is gone forever, gone into being the new year, people are dancing, 2019 has just entered, wide-eyed, utterly new.

Silence is the creation of space, a space that memory needs to use … an incubator. We’re dealing here with dimensions, stretching inner muscles, pushing aside any interference. We’re dealing with numbers, but not counting. Silence demands the nature of night, even in full day, it demands shadows.

She goes on to say: I consider the light that enters the room in the early hours of the day as a messenger of the sun, a direct voyager, a particle, a wave, who knows, but an object of sorts that left its solar source, covered miles, and landed on my skin. So the universe constantly visits us while waiting for us to reverse that itinerary.

Morning is still dark here this winter day, and I trust the turning, the turning that seeds, the silence that breathes and breeds in me.

Silence and Listening – hide and seek


What the pandemic has given us is increasing awareness of what we need, and much of that seems to be awareness of caring for ourselves and those we love.  

When I hear the word “space”, I think of Star Trek and exploration of the “final frontier”, but when we look within, there’s a beginning frontier to explore, one that appears to open out into a spaciousness in which to pause, renew, rest.

I’ve been with my journals from Nepal in 1993.  There was no safety net for the people, and yet those we met had their village, the support of their village.  At that time 50% of the children died before the age of five.  

I met a man, Donny, who was sick with worry over caring for his six children.  His corn was destroyed in the monsoon and he lost his thatched roof but he was proud that his sunflowers survived.

Yesterday, my son asked me about the “good old days”.  I spoke of my grandparents who lived through WWI and the depression, and then came WWII.  There’s always something to test us. 

We are here to see how we meet what comes, and I think of Kathmandu in 1993 where the leaves were swept with brooms, and the floors washed by kneeling.  The pace was both rapid and slow, noisy and quiet, and here we are, each of us, wrapped in a world that connects us all.

Tomorrow is a huge day for our country.   Democracy is both fragile and strong.

Yesterday I learned about The Robber’s Cave Experiment that was the inspiration for the book Lord of the Flies.

I read that nearly six decades later, experts have called the experiment unethical as it appears to have left  lasting mental damage on its subjects. I think as more and more comes out on the danger of what happened on January 6, 2021, each of us is shocked.

And yet on Christmas Day, the James Webb Space Telescope was launched.

According to NASA, “thousands of scientists, engineers and technicians” — from 306 universities, national labs and companies, primarily in the U.S., Canada and Europe — contributed “to design, build, test, integrate, launch and operate Webb.”

Smithsonian Magazine noted that “Webb will help scientists understand how early galaxies formed and grew, detect possible signatures of life on other planets, watch the birth of stars, study black holes from a different angle and likely discover unexpected truths.”


May we more deeply and expansively unite in observing the space within us, as we explore and expand our knowledge of the space we share.

This Day

Rain all day yesterday and now today a gray mist as birds fill the air with chatter, tweets, squawks, caws, and shrieks. 

I’m with these words of Rilke: 

We wasters of sorrows! How we stare away into sad endurance beyond them, trying to foresee their end! Whereas they are nothing else than our winter foliage, our sombre evergreen, one of the seasons of our interior year.

I honor winter evergreen and bare trees, welcoming the place of deepest feeling where sorrow and joy meet, rooting in a rise of gratitude, ease, and care.   

Looking East
Looking West
Looking South and Out

Original Face

My first blog was a sharing and exploration of my journey through breast cancer treatment in 2005 and 2006.  The book Breast Strokes came from the blog.

My second book was about the relationship between the mother-in-law and daughter-in-law, a complex one for sure, as each of us is complex and when we have two women loving the same man, a man perceived differently by each, understanding and compassion come to the fore.    

The third book, and the initial reason for this blog was my journey to Nepal in 1993 when I was 43.  I wrote it without the journals I so meticulously kept while there, so I relied on memory, but sometime this year I discovered the journals, carefully wrapped and tucked away.  I kept saying I’d go back through them, but then, there was always something “more important” to do but today,  New Year’s resolutions connected to hands connected to heart, I step back into the trip.  

My New Year’s intention is to post every day, and part of that will be a sharing of what I discover as I go back through journals from 27 years ago.  Today, I realized that the theme of the book, Airing Out the Fairy Tale, and my life, and possibly yours, relates to the Zen koan, “Show me your original face before you were born.”

Vicki, Celeste, and I went to Nepal on a spiritual quest.  We stayed in Kathmandu at 5000 feet to prepare.  We flew into Lukla at 9000 feet, and from there we walked down to acclimate before we continued back up.  

Today I’m reading of standing in line in Kathmandu on October 3, 1993, and it’s not really a line, but instead a cacophony of people anxious to get trekking permits.  I saw that all those around us were young, and yet I felt young even though I was 43.  Not intimated by age, I wrote, “Our spirits are high and so high we will go.”

Now, reflecting, I feel I touched my “original face” in Nepal. I was given the gift of understanding, a visceral immersion, elemental and original.   It is said that all souls circle around Mount Everest, Sagarmatha in Sanskrit, and Chomolungma to the Tibetans, when they pass. My mother-in-law passed away when I was there, and now, this beginning of a new year, I honor those who’ve passed even as I release.

Peace resides with the Tides!

Elaine Chan-Scherer’s photo of the sunset last night at low tide – Ocean Beach

New Moon

It’s the time of the January new moon, so King tides.  The flow is deep, and what’s hidden sleeps and is revealed.

My father passed 53 years ago tomorrow, and each year, I think the wound, the loss, is healed, but then, today, I’m held in soft tears, sweet ones, not salt as memories seep through.

These words of Ram Dass comfort me today, draw me forth. 

You are an entity, passing through a life, in which the entire drama is an offering for your awakening.

And there’s Cheri Huber:  Continuous awareness of being awareness takes continuous practice.

Today, I woke aware of what judgment does, and I release judgment of myself, and let it flow out with the high tide to reveal the treasures in the low.

Yesterday the light called me to capture photos in my yard. Wind chimes OM and flowers bloom honoring young light.


Today I prepare for entry into this new year.  I took the decorations off the tree on Friday and have been sitting with its glory and inspirational shape for two days, but today is the day it must be carried outside.

In that journey, I’m with Toni Morrison’s words from her book Beloved.  

Love your hands! Love them. Raise them up and kiss them. Touch others with them, pat them together, stroke them on your face… Love your mouth… This is flesh… Flesh that needs to be loved. Feet that need to rest and to dance; backs that need support; shoulders that need arms, strong arms… Love your neck; put a hand on it, grace it, stroke it and hold it up. And all your inside parts that they’d just as soon slop for hogs, you got to love them. The dark, dark liver — love it, love it, and the beat and beating heart, love that too. More than eyes or feet. More than lungs that have yet to draw free air. More than your life-holding womb and your life-giving private parts… love your heart. For this is the prize.

Friend Squirrel – we share a place