Thursday, May 31, 2012

Just 10 minutes...

May 31, 2012


When I created this blog, I had a number of reasons for doing so.  One was simply a desire to express myself.  One was to have a way to put poetry and prose out there so that it might have a positive impact on others, providing amusement, or pleasure, or perhaps a moment of connection to something important.

But another of the reasons I created this blog was to provide myself a structure and a forum for the discipline of writing.  To practice, daily, whenever possible.  (And it is always possible if I am honest with myself, just like with meditating--you make something a priority for 10 minutes, or you don't).

So when I feel inspired, or have a poem or prose I have been working on to share, it is easy.  On a day like today, with a lot of patients to see and no immediate Muse on my shoulder or emotion to share, it is more difficult.

Therefore, I will end today's entry with this thought:

What is the thing that your heart, your spirit, your inner wisdom is telling you that YOU should spend 10 minutes on today?  And maybe every day?

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The secret of life...

The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time.--James Taylor

Hearing the tail end of this song on the radio yesterday got me to thinking about my own experiences and struggle with time.

Just saying I struggle with time sounds kind of silly.  It is like saying I struggle with gravity,  or with air.  So it is not time itself, but the layers of meaning, my own self-limiting perceptions that cause the struggle.

I tend to imagine time as linear, which of course it isn't, but almost everything in our culture save theoretical physics reinforces this idea.  Looking forward and looking backward robs this moment, right now, of its power and pleasure.

So I try to stay in the present moment.  And fail, and come back again.

And not only has the seeming linearity of time caused me distress, but so has my perception of it as being finite.  I only have so much time, and it is never enough, and it is running out.  Yes, surely I am mortal and will die to this existence as I know it.   But the fear and the rushing through (or holding back) has caused me to miss the magic of many moments, or to fail to register them fully in my memories in a meaningful way.

So I try be mindful, fully awake and alive to whatever is happening right now without ruminating about my mortality.  Meditation helps, yet I fixate time and again.

Then there is also the tendency to think of time as a commodity, like "no time to spare," which can lead me to an attitude of hoarding, being stingy and selfish with my time, instead of giving it freely to others.  The only antidote seems to be to try to cultivate an attitude of "yes" to whatever is happening in the moment, and to say "yes" as much as appropriate to the requests of others.

So I still hear myself saying no, and try to remember that we are all here for each other.

If anyone reading has any thoughts about all this, please share!  I need to learn from you!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A sweet joy to start my day...

So today I get to the office a little early to go through the mail from my absence.  First I find a long overdue payment to me for services I rendered several years ago.  I am thankful, but I do the math and it is about half of what I should get paid.  I will have to follow up on this before I deposit the check.  Sigh.

Then, I get a huge gift from the universe.

I find a little envelope with a name of a client from years past.  I open to find a thank you card with a hand-written note from L.  I have changed identifying information.

When I first started seeing L. she was a teenager, struggling with family issues of divorce and drug addiction, and all the developmental challenges faced by a bright young woman seeking to find who she is and what she wants.  She was earnest and sweet and open to working through her pain.  I remember I liked her very much, and was impressed that she knew, more than anything, she wanted to fly.  It was such a specific desire, and a beautifully apt metaphor for that to which her spirit aspired.  It has been years since we last spoke.

She writes to tell me that now she is in her late twenties, working as a pilot, finishing up a degree in aeronautical science, and planning a wedding to the man of her dreams.  She has taken the time to share where she is in her life with me, and to thank me.   She feels our meetings helped change her life, allowing her to move forward without baggage and achieve the success and happiness she is now experiencing.

I am so moved by this message that I re-read the note a few times and tears come to my eyes.  I knew I needed to write about this.

I seldom know what happens in the lives of the people I work with after our time together is done.  Of course I always wish the best for them, but it is an immense gift that L. gives me today.  I am so very pleased that she feels our connection and work together was pivotal in her growth.

Sometimes the work of a psychotherapist is hard, sometimes really hard, and some days more gratifying than others.  Bearing witness to pain in a genuine way can be depleting.  Not everyone has epiphanies or breakthroughs, and being the human being that I am, I can't or don't help every one this deeply.   I don't do it for the thanks, and it is how I make a living, but in moments like this I remember the true reason I am called to this work.  I feel honored and humbled.

For me there is no work I could do that is more deeply satisfying, and sometimes even sacred.  I can think of nothing that suits me better than offering my presence and what skills I do have to another person in a way that eases suffering, promotes growth, helps clear the way for living a life in tune with one's authentic self and in alignment with the well-being of others.

Well, writing is a close second.  I am grateful.

Thanks for listening.

And most of all, thank you L., for sharing yourself with me.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Tubac -- a poem

May 27, 2012

I watched a hawk for a long time today, and noticed that I never saw a flap of her wings.  There was no effort, just the total freedom of being in harmony with the present moment.  And in that letting go, the hawk soared higher and further away, until my eyes could no longer follow.  So I offer this poem:


is how I wish to be
like the hawk, black against blue
jade cactus below
and brown desert hills rise
just on the horizon
wings open
with draft and drift
in the moment before hunt and hunger
simply being
the floating
between earth and sky
in the nuance of now

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Why I Meditate

Why I Meditate

            with a bow to Allen Ginsberg

I sit because my Soul wants me to remember
I sit because my Muse wants me to imagine
I sit because baby girls get clitorectomies
I sit because then I can feel what came before my ego
I sit because I drink too much
I sit because it is easier than standing up
I sit to honor the source of being
I sit so that others will learn the power of mindfulness
I sit because I am aimless and distracted if I don’t
I sit because of genocide, hatred, oppression, confusion and fear
I sit because I need connection to All
I sit to experience silence, emptiness and spaciousness
I sit because it quells the white hot fear in the middle of the night
I sit because I am too old for cocaine, mushrooms and LSD
I sit to breathe in the pain and suffering of all, and to breathe out well-being and love
I sit for the spider, the snail, the cactus, the lotus, the dolphin, the dog
I sit for the transformation of the consciousness of the world

In the desert, with friends

May 25, 2012

Good morning from Tubac, Arizona.  The desert is windy, dry, sunny and starkly beautiful.

That is as far as I got in the morning before the day's activities began.  It was a lovely day of shopping in the artisan and boutique shops with the girls, and that lovely, easy and intimate conversation shared by women of a certain age.  We speak of the vagaries of aging, both our own and that of our parents, some dead.  We talk about the funny and joyful moments in life that balance out the difficult ones.  It was "girls night" in the kitchen to make us all dinner, and we fall into that seamless teamwork that is one of the things I value most about female camaraderie.  At the dinner table, we all laugh until our cheeks hurt.

Now, it is night.  The sky is a revelation, reminding me of the vastness of the universe.   I feel at once humbled and small, and also as exalted and expansive as the cosmos.  The separateness of my self merges into oneness with All.  It is how I often feel when meditating.  And how wonderful to feel this connection and unity, to live it in these few days I am spending with family of my heart.

I feel deeply grateful, and look forward to tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Focus -- a poem

Another poem.  I have yet to officially copyright of any of my writing as of yet, but I share what I have written here in hope that others may find in my words pleasure and meaning.


Focus, intent, purpose—attract and co-create.
My life, remade…but I am afraid;
Am I getting the lesson too late?

The habits of a lifetime, the limits from within.
And yet I know…it must be so
Any moment I can begin.

Cut the ties that bind me, let loose the shackle of fear.
Be here, act now…trust in the “how”
But it is I who must now steer.

Or is Not-I the source for course?  Yes. Together. One.
Above as below… let the energies flow
Allow, and get it done.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

My daily direction...

Well, I must say I felt a bit liberated yesterday, and those of  you reading and commenting, I appreciate your thoughts.  I had one of those days where I felt very centered in doing therapy, and joyful in dance class, and grateful all around.  So today I will share the whole enchilada from beginning to end, the entirety of my morning recitation and reflection, which I call my Boddhisatva Prayer, although I am not addressing a deity, just my higher self.   As I said, it is deeply personal and parts of it may only make sense to me, but comments and questions are welcome.

Another sunrise!  I thank the Universe for another chance to dance --  along the Middle Way.

I dwell in well-being.  I abide in abundance.

Meditation connects me to the ground of Being, and nourishes my soul.

Mindfulness is my way of being in the world.

Intuition guides me.

I move through the hours enlivened by Spirit, intent upon my purpose, and expressing the evolutionary impulse, with integrity and loving-kindness.

I manifest my desires and intentions, and surrounded by synchronicity, I draw towards me those people and circumstances aligned with that fulfillment.

I am the voice to my personal truths, and I speak with clarity, confidence, conviction and courage.  I trust myself and my boundaries.

Through the creative written word I provide for others an experience of pleasure and beauty, and a meaning which reminds of essence and connection.

I recognize and utilize the many aspects of energy so that in thought, word and deed, I follow the highest impulse, toward the greatest good.

I am present and compassionate with all those with whom I come into contact.

I ease suffering and promote enlightenment through the precepts of Buddhism and the skills of my trade.

Through me flows a source of healing, hope and light.

I am eternally joyful and grateful.

I am a Boddhisatva.

   May all beings be happy, content and fulfilled.

   May they be protected from harm and free from fear.

   May they be awakened, liberated and free.

   May there be peace on this earth, and throughout the entire universe.

Of course, the "I" statements reflect my best self, and the self that shows up on any given day will fall short, often painfully so.  I constantly trip over my selfishness, my hedonism, my attachments and aversions, my fears and insecurities.

But these words are one way of expressing the current culmination of several years of an arc of personal growth and spiritual exploration, a  journey which has been unsettling, surprising, amazing and liberating.

I want to stay on this path, awake and aware.  I want to feel eternity in being completely alive to the present moment.  I want to remind myself, always, that we are all connected and never alone.  I want to challenge my preconceptions, see beyond appearances, and grow in wisdom and serenity.  I want to be my better self, for those I love, for those I impact, and for the good of the world.

These are the seeds I wish to water.  

                                                      Although sometimes I choose tequila...

Monday, May 21, 2012

Opening up...

No postings over the past weekend, which was marked by debauchery including crawfish, Rock Band and a little too much wine.

This morning I sat down to meditate, and begin as I most always do, speaking aloud a prayer of sorts, really a sort of personal intention and mission statement, reminding me of who I am, how I am connected, and how I wish to live my life.  It is so deeply personal I can not quite share it here, which leads me to my thoughts for today.

We all have an interior life largely unknown to others.  For some of us, it is barely known to ourselves.

That is part of the work of psychotherapy, finding the parts of that interior life that are getting in the way and transforming them, calling forth the internal monologue and beliefs about ourselves and the world which make us reactive, inauthentic, feeling "different than," and sad and scared and alone.

The irony, and part of the healing of course, is finding out that we are really all the same, we all share this part of the human experience.  For even though our particular pains and joys are unique, we all carry around fear, insecurity, longing, attachments and aversions.

And so too we each carry in us the seeds to transform.  We have a knowing of who we are and what we are here to do if we can water the seeds.  Psychotherapy can help there too.  And so does meditation and spiritual practice.

So why am I shy to share here in words this statement of who I am?  If I am trying to live it I should be able to state it.  Silly.  The only way out is through.

I will start with the first few lines:

Another sunrise!  I thank the Universe for another chance to dance --  along the Middle Way.

I dwell in well-being.  I abide in abundance.

I move through the hours enlivened by Spirit, intent upon my purpose, and expressing the evolutionary impulse with integrity and loving-kindness.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Warning Signs

Today thought I would share something that was published (The Sun, February 2012).   I am including the piece both in its original and edited versions.  The Sun is a monthly literary journal out of Chapel Hill, North Carolina that publishes short stories, poems, essays, interviews and photography.

The Sun has a section called Readers Write in which readers are asked to submit a short personal true story.  I decided to begin submitting as a commitment to writing;  this was my first submission, and I had one of those feelings that it might be one of the entries selected.  Much to my pleasure, it was.  They made some editorial changes for the final version that went to press, which is the second version here.  I think it is interesting to see the what and the how of the editorial process.

Back in college when I thought I wanted to pursue writing as a career as a journalist and/or creative writer, two things stopped me.  Well, I stopped me, but those things about me were: 1.  My immature ego could not handle the editorial process, and 2.  I felt that at the age of 19/20 I did not have much to say as I had not experienced much in life yet.   I am happy to say that on both counts things have changed.  I can see the value and need for outside input, and at the age of 54 I have experienced a lot of the fullness of life in both its joys and sorrows.

So here is my original version, submitted for the topic, "Warning Signs."

“I don’t know what to do with your Mom” my father said over the phone.  Never before had I heard
uncertainty in that voice, never had he approached me as an adult in this way.  Retired military, he
was always the rock, the stoic, but with a deeply nurturing nature.  “What is wrong, Dad?”

He described increasingly anxious, easily agitated, obsessive behavior in my mother.  As her
daughter, I thought, “Well, that is just Mom being more Mom than usual.”  As a newly licensed
psychologist….well, that is still what I thought.

A few months later, my parents made the trek from North Carolina to California to visit their two-
year-old grandson.  I saw what my dad was talking about.  She had no tolerance for typical toddler
behavior, cried at the drop of a hat, got all worked up about conversations with her sister.  When
not slightly neurotic, my mom was always good-natured and jovial, but now something was

I had no idea how different things would soon be, nor did I see that these changes in her mental
status were the signs of a tumor that had been growing slowly for years in her brain.  A few months
after this visit, she suffered a heart attack, went into a coma, and the doctors found the tumor. 
Surgery, recovery; radiation, less recovery—Mom was never the same.  Dad cared for her as long
as he could and when he had to place her in a nursing home, it broke his heart.  When she died
five years ago, for me it was the last in a series of goodbyes to the woman she had been.

I visited my dad a few times in the next few years, once to throw him an 80th birthday party.  He
looked impossibly old, bent over from arthritis in his spine; he was easily fatigued.  When I drove
away, I cried and a part of me knew this was the last time I would see him, but of course I told
myself, one more visit. 

Some time later, on the phone, I again heard something different  than I had ever heard
before in his voice.    He asked me if I was upset with him because a number of weeks had gone
by since we talked.  I apologized, assured him everything was all right.  Then he asked in a halting
voice I now remember as frail and possibly a little afraid, “When do you think you might get home
for a visit?”.  We talked about Thanksgiving versus Christmas.  He died just after Labor Day. 

I, an only child, felt utterly bereft as I traveled home for the very last time, to a service of full military
honors to inter my father next to my mother.   

I feel ashamed that I did not heed all the signs and intuitions, and yet I recognize that I did not wish
to see them. My parents would forgive me.  I have almost forgiven myself; my grief is still raw as I

Here is the edited version, as it appeared (The Sun, February 2012)

“I don’t know what to do with your mom,” my father said over the phone. I’d never heard such uncertainty in his voice. Retired military, he was always stoic, a rock.
“What’s wrong, Dad?”
He described my mother’s increasingly anxious, agitated, obsessive behavior. As her daughter — and a newly licensed psychologist — I thought it was just my neurotic mom being more neurotic than usual.
A few months later my parents made the trek to California to visit me and their two-year-old grandson, and I saw what my dad was talking about. Mom had no tolerance for typical toddler behavior and cried at the drop of a hat. For all her neuroses, my mom had always been good-natured and jovial. This was different.
A few months after this visit, she suffered a heart attack and went into a coma. Doctors found a tumor that had been growing for years in her brain.
After the surgery and radiation, Mom was never the same. Dad cared for her as long as he could. It broke his heart when he had to place her in a nursing home before she died.
A few years after her death, I visited my dad to throw him an eightieth birthday party. He looked impossibly old, bent from arthritis in his spine and easily fatigued. As I drove away, I cried, but I told myself there’d be other visits.
Some time later, on the phone, Dad asked if I was upset with him, because weeks had gone by since we’d talked. I apologized and assured him everything was all right. Then he asked, sounding frail and possibly a little afraid, “When do you think you might get home for a visit?” We talked about Thanksgiving.
He died just after Labor Day.
An only child, I was bereft as I traveled home for the last time to attend the funeral. He was buried next to my mother, with full military honors. 
I feel ashamed that I did not heed the warning signs. If they were here today I feel sure my parents would forgive me, but I still haven’t forgiven myself.

Cue music...

In the immortal words of Wyclef Jean:

To my people who don't wanna go to work
Thank God it's Friday!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

A brief note

Today, just a brief note, regarding an experience in the middle of last night's sleep:
cramps AND a hot flash!  What the hell?  Mother Nature has a demented sense of humor sometimes.  Kind of like a few weeks ago:  a couple of pimples to go with my wrinkles.  The worst of youth and aging, all at the same time.  

But still I smile, because I have a voice that can sing, feet that can dance, a consciousness that can be transformed and a heart that can love.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Morning Meditation -- a poem

I begin my experiment in blogging.  I do this as a way to practice and share my writing.

From last year......


in the dark before dawn,
jasmine ember burns low.
Breathe.   Slow.
Settle in.   

in that place ,
the gap
between thoughts ,
release from the ego,
a space,  deep within.

cosmic expanse,
a moment, familiar;    
an echo through time…..
but where,
and when?

memory returns.
Last night
once again,
unbound and unfettered
I, the dreamer, was dream.

soaring limitless,  
mist upon skin,
each glance creating
an expanse
yet unseen.

unending ,
vibrant with detail;
a world in between.

a village,
ancient arches,
aglint in the sun
roofs of red tile.

veridian  jungle,
vines and dense forest.
lapis ocean,
cerulean sky.

of sheer joy;
heart so full—                       
Alive to the moment.
Freedom from time.

veil descends,
grounded by gravity,
entrenched in the body, 
transcendency done.  

grateful for these,
twin portals
of Spirit:
the place where one sits 
and the dream that is sung.

before pulse,  
outside body,
is always.
Beyond here - pure potential-
abides ever, and One.

Katherine Hamilton


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Conscripted Heart

This is my most recent poem...

Conscripted Heart

Hard fight, to keep love’s death apart. 
Wearied warrior, armored full,   
I vanquish any lights that start, 
which dare disturb the brittle night.                                     
And meeting heat with ice,  
I protect my meager heart.  

Within this thickly brambled lair     
unwary trav’ler, scraped and scratched,  
will  always soon emerge for air  
and feel no reason to return.  
I, curled and crouching low 
cry “Good riddance!” and “Beware!”   

Cold solace is this vow of ‘one’; 
the nettled nest holds no recourse.
No tendrilled green, no ray of sun   
finds purchase here.  No flowers bloom;    
absent of all color,    
save the sallow shade of dun.  

I stay here that I might forget 
that once I dared to venture out--    
the garden where my heart was met,   
embraced, by fire which burned me through;   
leaving ache and ashes,  
and all wanting, gone.   And yet…   

Yet…  No!  No doubt!  There is no space.
This battened bog, that sinks and stings
can bear no other in this place,
can not withstand the loss again.
Enfeebled by the fear,
l must leave my self encased.

Conscripted heart, forced to defend
such wounded ravage of the soul
becomes but one more battlement
unyielding, whether friend or foe.
Unmoving and unmoved.
Solitary, to the end.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Okay, still Day One, Hour One but it is past my bedtime.  It seems to be set up, sort of, but I think I need someone to walk me through.  But, before I go, I should post a little poetry to get started.  This is the first poem I ever wrote, age 7 maybe?

If I were a bee I would not sting
Unless it were an important thing
I'd help to build a little bee hive
For me, my wife and my children five

Probably the first and only thing I ever wrote in a masculine voice.   Hmm...

More interesting rhyme schemes and content to come, promise!

In the beginning...

Day One, on a whim.  Seems like everyone has a blog, so why not me?  I am a writer by night, a psychologist by day...well, I am both all the time I guess.  Anyway, I will take a stab at this, see if it gets any further than a website that I spent one hour on and abandoned.  This space will evolve, but for now I see it is a channel for my voice as a writer, my growth as a Buddhist, my purpose as a healer.