Poem: Gray Day

Rainy mountain lake

Rainy mountain lake

Gray mist creeps in

covering the land and shore

Rain drips onto my head

and crawls through my scalp

down my skull

down my neck

I shiver.


Listen to the twinkling sound of rain

hitting into the lake

clear to the blues and creams of mountain rocks lining the bottom

I look for you, squinting

eyelashes dripping water.


The foliage is bright green

and cheerful.

Bowing toward me as they release drops of water to the ground.


I can’t see beyond the walls of mountain

beyond this lake

beyond the orange and gray lichen


I can’t see the mountain tops from the mists and fog

And I cannot be found, either.


This is where I will set up my tent.



Meditation Center and Solstice (Topic#038)

Autumn saucer magnolia tree

Autumn saucer magnolia tree

With the help of my aunt and cousin, I made it to the meditation center for the solstice ceremony! And I am sooooooooo glad I did. It was wonderful.

When I am there, my mind is calm, I feel accepted, my thoughts are acceptable. There is nothing too negative and nothing too positive for them. It’s probably the most wonderful place on the planet.

Because whatever is happening inside of you, there you are. There is nothing to judge. There is nothing unacceptable. You’re just there and your thoughts are just there. Or they’re not there.

Today, we sat with a Koan: Branches of light are streaming from the darkness. (I do not promise exact phrasing.) My mind was amazingly clear and calm. It seemed to be the most beautiful sentence in the world. I listened to the wind coming in through the window, and the blinds banging against the window with each breeze. Birds and dogs barking, random people milling about outside the building. I repeated the Koan to myself and stayed with it the whole time. I pictured streams of light coming from the darkness but by the end, there was no more darkness and I could no longer picture the Koan. I was so joyful inside and it was a beautiful time for me.

When we discussed our experiences afterward, everyone had such profound things to say. People spoke of lightness and darkness in their lives, their struggles, the good and the bad, the sick and the conflicts in their families. I spoke of the wind coming through the window and felt somewhat foolish, but that’s why I spoke up. I figured, maybe the other people who were not speaking up felt inferior to those bringing up such profound topics.

Also during the sitting, I noticed that my body is in SO much pain. I ache from my eyebrows down to my thighs. I have no idea why. I hadn’t even known I was in so much pain until my thoughts were calm like that and I could feel/hear/see the things around me. Then it was hard to sit without massaging my eyebrow muscles and my shoulders and my thighs… why am I in so much pain?

Happy Solstice, everyone!

Practice in Gratefulness (Journal#010)



I’m writing this out for my own self.

  • I am grateful for extended family that steps in to help so willingly.
  • I am grateful for parents who are willing to try anything to help.
  • I am grateful to have parents who love me.
  • I am grateful to have parents who love my dog and take such great care of him.
  • I am grateful for my aunt and uncle who cook for me, walk with me, keep me company, and more.
  • I am grateful to be able to feel sunshine so often.
  • I am grateful to be living in a household with two friendly dogs.
  • I am grateful that I have a job.
  • I am grateful that I can get to my job without driving myself.
  • I am grateful that one of the people I’m living with doesn’t mind cooking for me.
  • I am grateful to be living in an area where I can walk to anything business I want, be it a bank, grocery store, doctor, theater, anything.
  • I am grateful that I got to see the ocean this Saturday.
  • I am grateful that I have an iPhone and can take pictures.
  • I am grateful that I can share pictures from my phone.
  • I am grateful that I can write here.
  • I am grateful that anybody reads it.
  • I am grateful that I was raised to appreciate music.
  • I am grateful to be living in a time where I can find almost any music I want to listen to.
  • I am grateful to be able to avoid foods that I test allergic to.
  • I am grateful there is a plant in this office (and I’m grateful that I haven’t killed it).
  • I am grateful that my body is pretty much perfectly functional.
  • I am grateful that my hiking shoes are still holding together and that I brought them with me here.
  • I am grateful that I have warm clothes with me.
  • I am grateful to have access to Lynda.com and to have a bit of time each day, if I want, to study any software program I’d like.
  • I am grateful for having extended family nearby.
  • I am grateful that my brother gets to visit here now and then, and might even be moving here.
  • I am grateful that I have enough money to keep paying for my health insurance.
  • I am grateful that my friend is taking care of my pony even though I don’t know when I’ll ever get back to that state and I really don’t know what to do with her yet.
  • I am grateful that I have enough money left after paying health insurance to pay for my pony’s feed, dewormers and hoof trimmings.
  • I am grateful for my TaskRabbit who helps me wake up on most mornings.
  • I am grateful that my TaskRabbit is so upbeat and enthusiastic about life and tries to get me to see things that way, too.
  • I am grateful that my TaskRabbit made me go to a nearby park which is so beautiful and now I go there almost every day and take pictures.
  • I am grateful to be living in a place where there are so many other people and dogs walking around at all times of the day and night.
  • I am grateful that my anxiety levels have been pretty low lately.
  • I am grateful for all of the trees that are turning such beautiful colors and staying colorful for SO LONG.
  • I am grateful for the cactus I walk past every day, reminding me of where I now live and that I don’t need to prepare too much for the upcoming winter.
  • I am grateful for my parents who keep in touch with me and keep me updated on their lives, weather, and wildlife there.
  • I am grateful for pen and paper.
  • I am grateful for computer keyboards.
  • I am grateful that I called an old friend from high school the other day, and she introduced me to xkcd online comics, which I read every day now.
  • I am grateful for my online to-do and goals list (it’s a page up near my About page).
  • I am grateful that my bed is comfortable and I can sleep in a pile of blankets on it.
  • I am grateful for hugs.
  • I am grateful for all of you and knowing people who can understand.
  • I am grateful for all of the shops and bakeries around here that sell gluten free items (with good flavor & texture).

(I’m adding on to this as a I think of more.)

Inherent Beauty (Topic#002)

Image of neighbor's flower

Image of neighbor’s flower

I. Don’t. Understand. People. Who. Find. Other. People. Ugly.

I don’t get it. I never have. I have walked down streets before and marveled at how physically beautiful people are. Person after person looks amazingly beautiful. The weight doesn’t matter, the clothes don’t matter, the skin or hair or eye or tooth color doesn’t matter. People are amazing and beautiful.

For me, the change comes when a person opens his or her mouth. When a person laughs at another person’s pain. When a person says nasty things about others behind their backs. When a person complains about others’ ugliness based solely on their weight. There are infinite examples of what makes a person “ugly” to me.

When that happens, their physical features morph for me. I can then see the eyebrows and the slant of the mouth and other features in a way that appears uglier. I can see a cruelness in the eye.

But even then, it can still be softened. I’ll never forget your cruelty, but I can learn to appreciate other things you might say or do. Maybe you say mean things about people, but yet always jump in first to lend a helping hand.

I think everyone has something absolutely beautiful about them physically. I wish more people made a habit of looking for that. But I also think everyone has something special inside, too. I have met just a handful of people in my life who challenged me on this:

  • One person I knew was exceptionally judgmental and hateful, but took in stray cats.
  • Another person was a terrible, terrible boss and used extreme psychological manipulation to make the employees mistrust each other and turn only to her for support. Yet she was a good mother.
  • Another person grew up as a bully, got into drugs and raged against his family and terrorized some people. But he had a soft underbelly and his writings were amazing and beautiful and profound and expressed so much inner torment that all of his other actions fell into a different context altogether.

Can any of you think of any person who is 100% ugly in all respects? I cannot imagine it. I just know there is something good and something beautiful in there somewhere.