Author Archive

the comfort of not there yet

“Go as far as you can see; when you get there, you’ll be able to see further.”
– Thomas Carlyle

When my life feels particularly in flux and I get to worrying about the future, I feel better when I remember that I don’t have all the information yet. There are opportunities and vistas up ahead that I can’t possibly know about now. And worrying will not bring me any closer to them. I can only see what I can see on this very day, in this very moment. What a comfort that is.

How far can you see today?

double whammy

The first color photograph of Earth from space was taken in 1959. What an awesome experience that must have been… to see our planet’s blues & greens for the first time.

Though I grew up with the view of Earth from space as commonplace, there is an incredible sight that I am brand new to beholding. And it is much much smaller than the Earth. It is the flapping wing of a hummingbird.

I took this photo with my phone. My phone! It was a double whammy of awe… the easy ability to capture the image and, of course, the hummingbird herself.

Have you had a double whammy of awe lately?

game of catch

“I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back.”
– Maya Angelou

These are wise words indeed. But I’ve come to notice that many people throw and throw and throw… that it’s the catching they have trouble with. There are the amazing givers who are not at all great at receiving. There are the millions of people working two or three jobs who don’t receive a living wage. There are the people who equate their worth with their output, who never feel they do enough, who are uncomfortable receiving help of any kind.

The game of catch is a game of balance, of rhythm. Throw and catch, throw and catch.

Do you have a catcher’s mitt on your hand?

mind walls

My mind has been shifting perspectives lately on some big stuff in my life. My mind has also been resisting those new perspectives, habitually returning to the old thought patterns, to the familiar interior conversation. And to the familiar feelings that come along with it.

Change is strange and can be quite uncomfortable.

What’s helping is to imagine that my mind is getting remodeled. That the stained, familiar wallpaper is getting peeled away, slowly but surely. That the walls are being sanded down, and that I’m eagerly picking out a fresh color of paint.

I’m also considering knocking a hole in one of the walls and putting in a window.

What color are your mind walls these days?

live & unplugged

“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.”
– Anne Lamott

We all have different ways of unplugging: meditating, taking a walk, eating a meal slowly, dancing, napping.

Sometimes doing the dishes by hand is a way to unplug. (To each her own.)

My favorite snippet in this quote from Anne Lamott is “for a few minutes”. Our society and work culture expect us to feel burned out most of the time, to save up all our unplugging for the tail end of a day, for the Saturday afternoon, for the one (too) short vacation a year. But, really, sprinkling in those few minutes throughout each day is just as nourishing and, perhaps, more sustaining.

You have ten minutes. How will you unplug?

a room for surprise

“Mystery is at the heart of creativity. That, and surprise.”
– Julia Cameron

I went to hear Paul Simon sing at the Hollywood Bowl recently. He told a story about the oddest title he ever gave a song: “Rene and Georgette Magritte with their Dog after the War.”

One day, maybe 40 years ago, he was visiting Joan Baez. She had to take a phone call and left him alone in her living room. He flipped through a book and saw this caption under a photo: “Rene and Georgette Magritte with their dog after the war.” Something struck him about that sentence, and so he wrote the song. And then I was lucky enough to hear him sing it under a big sky decades later.

So often, when a surprise inspiration strikes (even the littlest of inspirations), we dismiss it. We move on to the next thing in our busy, busy lives. But maybe, if we leave more room for mystery and surprise, we can follow those inspirations and create something wonderful. Because sometimes the littlest inspiration can become a masterpiece; sometimes a mysterious idea can become an invention; sometimes a caption can become a song.

Has any inspiration surprised you lately?

for the sake of the climb

“The ones who climb the mountain don’t wait for permission. They just start walking.”
– Trinity Bourne

As a New Yorker, I excelled at urban hiking. There is plenty of flat terrain there, but there is also flight after flight of staircases to climb, both over and under the ground. Since moving to Los Angeles, I’ve been hiking mountains and canyons. My hikes in New York were part of my transportation system. (I used to say “My legs are my car”.) But the LA hikes are different. They are simply for the hike itself, for the climb.

My neighbor, the tortoise, set out on his own climb recently. I marveled at his persistence and grace as he lugged himself to the top. Once he was up there, he didn’t stay long. With a sudden motion, he stepped off the top rock and awkwardly slid and bumped all the way back down.

Trinity Bourne says we climbers don’t wait for permission to climb. I say we climbers don’t wait for a reason either. To climb is reason enough.

What have you climbed recently?

sensing a surrender

“The creative process is a process of surrender, not control.”
– Julia Cameron

An artist friend was recently touring through LA, and so we spent an afternoon together. She kept remarking in her charming Polish accent, “California smells so good!” She couldn’t get enough of these bushes in particular, surrendering her entire body to their intoxicating fragrance.

It was then that I learned that smelling was a creative act. Who knew?

tasting fortune

When I was young, a friend told me that, if I wanted the message from a fortune cookie to come true, I had to eat it. She said I had to eat both the cookie and the fortune. She instructed me to chew and swallow the little slip of paper, and so I did. It felt like I was participating in the magic.

Recently, a new friend plucked a flower from a tree and presented it to me with the instruction, “Try this.” He didn’t speak of any fortune, only of the delicious taste. But, as I lifted the beautiful flower to my mouth, I made a secret wish. (How could I not?) Once again, I participated in the magic with simple chews and a swallow.

Have you gotten any tastes of magic lately?

charmed by a bee

A friend and I were relaxing on the beach when she suddenly gasped. I looked down to see that a bee had landed on my finger. Bees have always fascinated me, and I don’t recall ever being stung by one (wasps are a different story). So I remained calm and just observed the tiny creature. He ended up hanging out on my finger for ten whole minutes! Perhaps he mistook me for a flower or a sandwich. In any case, I rather enjoyed his company.

Have you befriended any insects lately?