pause to live

plateToday’s Daily Post at WordPress asks “If you could pause real life and spend some time living with a family anywhere in the world, where would you go?” This time last year I met Letizia and her husband Ruurd. Five days was the appetizer that will bring us back one day.

Alla Madonna del Piatto

 For years they wandered, seeking to live
in one place for a length of time
for roots, child, livelihood
to become as one. They found this spot

perched in the hills above Assisi
home to pagan goddess, revered saints
undisputed holy land of olive, grape
and opportunity.

So settled here. As if a sign,
found buried in the ancient house
a plate, a graceful figure beckoning
them to re-imagine place.

And so they worked, restored,
created home and guest space, too,
with groves and orchards to feed them,
provide means of living well.

From here we see the revered hill
upon which sits so much history
of pagan, Christian, Roman, Jew –
their destinies layered, ever new.
–  swb

got junk?


credit –

Today’s WordPress Daily Post Challenge poses the following questions: Is there “junk” in your life? What kind? How do you get rid of it?

As a writer and facilitator of writing groups in a variety of settings, I address ‘junk’ day in and day out. In its many manifestations. From cluttered space to the scattered mind.

At some level, we all have, are surrounded by and/or carry junk with us. Baggage from past relationships and experiences that keep us closed to new opportunities; fearful practices that keep us hidden; insecurities that hinder us from stepping into our full capabilities. And of course there’s material clutter – the kind that some find comforting and validating, others find downright offensive.

When we downsized from an expansive family home to our modest condo, we asked these two simple questions: do we love it? do we use it? You’d be amazed how quickly you can pare down the physical clutter with this heart test.

But what about other kinds of clutter? The best way I know to rid oneself of unwanted junk is to write it out – fast, free, to the point of emptiness. Julia Cameron in “The Artist’s Way” advocates ‘morning pages.’ The beauty of this kind of before-you-are-completely awake writing is that it is cathartic. Out comes the junk. And about a half hour into the spewing, out come the gems, the insights you never knew lived inside.

So those of you reading this who are interested in eliminating psychic junk from your days, your soul – consider writing it out. One day at a time. Incredibly – and wonderfully – you will fill with peace and expansiveness. And that’s not junk. That’s treasure.

no fair

fairness, dignity, community

credit – neopeopleism

Today’s WP Daily Prompt – ‘No Fair.’

Fairness might well be the biggest value by which I live. When my kids were young, I early learned that they had different needs. What worked for one might not work for the other. That doesn’t feel ‘fair’ sometimes.

But the ‘no fair’ I am steaming about today is far scarier and morally wrong. It is the kind of unfair that lurks behind cronyism, currying favor with those in control for personal reasons. It is the kind of unfair that supports a woman’s groundless accusations when the accused is an upright, hard-working man of unshakeable moral integrity.

I honestly do not know which roils my blood more: the fact that any human being would systematically and maliciously go out of her way to malign another person; or that her accusation carries any weight at all. Clearly the case under my skin concerns cronyism at its most cowardly. How is it possible to credit her charge while ignoring her history of unreliability, ineffectiveness, rudeness and favoritism? [If you answer – ‘because she is a woman’ – I will choke. This is the most vile of all to me: the woman who uses that fact to a purely selfish end.]

The answer of course lies in systems which promote to the level of incompetence; which favor inside networks; which do not actually have as their goal a team approach to problem-solving for the greater good. Rhetoric aside, such systems put individual gain over community good. Which bumps up hard against my second biggest value -community.

The solution? Would that there were a single one! But if we’re talking fairness, at the minimum we need to inhabit a broader systems view. We need to take context into account. We need to be accountable for the work entrusted to us, the lives under our care. We need to listen with our hearts to hear the truth. And we must cease the betrayal of human by human. We are all here, together, now. Let’s drop our scrapping egos. In the end, much of life is ‘not fair.’ But we can get through it easier, and better, working together.

Thoughts in the Presence of Fear | Wendell Berry | Orion Magazine

One of the most thoughtful writers of our time offers a compelling essay. In one of the most compelling magazines out there. Written in 2001. So critical today.

We citizens of the industrial countries must continue the labor of self-criticism and self-correction. We must recognize our mistakes…
This is why the substitution of rhetoric for thought, always a temptation in a national crisis, must be resisted by officials and citizens alike…
The aim and result of war necessarily is not peace but victory, and any victory won by violence necessarily justifies the violence that won it and leads to further violence…
What leads to peace is not violence but peaceableness, which is not passivity, but an alert, informed, practiced, and active state of being… The key to peaceableness is continuous practice…

Read on, contemplate, and join in the conversation. How do you fare in the face of fear?  Why are we so reluctant to practice peace? Where do you stand on these issues?

Thoughts in the Presence of Fear | Wendell Berry | Orion Magazine.

resistance to blossoming


“How strange that the nature of life is change, yet the nature of human beings is to resist change.

And how ironic that the difficult times we fear might ruin us are the very ones that can break us open

and help us blossom into who we were meant to be.”

– Elizabeth Lesser

blooming despite adversity

source unknown