the pursuit of happiness

I decided that non-fiction would scratch my itch for literature more than the nightmare inducing young adult books that I just powered through, so I picked up a copy of Outliers by Malcom Gladwell at the library today on my way home from answering phones for the final day of KVNF’s pledge drive. I like his other books – Blink and The Tipping Point and have been drawn in similarly to Outliers.

I’m only halfway through, but so far I would summarize his premise as this – successful people are not successful alone, there are collaborative circumstances that help success. In the field of hockey in Canada it happens to be your birthdate. For mastery of anything, it is the number of hours you are willing to put into it (10,000 hours being the magic number). And much of success lies in how your parents teach you to deal with authority and following your interests.

One former employer said to me in a moment of frustration, “you are so entitled.” Which is to mean that, overall, I expect things to go well for me. I expect to find work that I find satisfying and live a life that I find valuable. And I would say that my life backs this up. Not to say that things are always easy or that I am rich or what-have-you. But right now the apricot blossoms are blowing off the trees and spiraling towards the ground and it is gorgeous, and I have the time to sit and notice this on a Saturday afternoon and I am thankful to my parents for teaching me that my values and interests are important. I get to choose the kind of life that I have, and I have chosen this life, which means if I don’t like it, then I need to choose again.

So – I’m quickly trying to wrack my brain – how do I fit more “practical intelligence” skills into my teaching. Robert Steinberg defines it as “knowing what to say to whom, knowing when to say it and knowing how to say it for maximum effect.” Knowing how to ask for what you want and knowing how to help people help you to get what you want.

I’ll let you know, because I’m afraid that even more than when I was in high school, when young people look at the world they are inheriting, it is hard to feel entitled to lead a good life. But hopefully I’m just underestimating humanity’s intelligence and of course we’ll figure all this out. In fact, we already have and we just need to put the new systems in place for mass consumption.


Declaration of Independence -“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

right now

In writing class we often do the Natalie Goldberg practice of “wild writing”. Setting the timer and seeing what comes out. So here’s my – “right now” for you in 8 minutes (and a couple more minutes for grammatical and clarity edits).

Right now I’m listening to reggae music, I can still taste the chocolate chip cookie in my mouth. There is a gentle breeze coming in through the open door and I can see the forsythia through the window to my left. Yellow flowers on messy branches. Landsend mountain sits behind the gently waving branches and the snow is melting daily. Like a blanket being unraveled one stitch at a time.

This morning I dug in the dirt and ate three stalks of asparagus. Yum. And had greens from the cold frame in my scrambled eggs for breakfast. This is the good life. I hear that sulfur is important to your health and that food loses sulfur in three days when you pick it = grow your own if you can.

I’m going to plant broccoli, turnips and radishes in the bed that I prepared. I knew that a warm spring was dangerous – I could totally plant more than I want to hand-water fairly quickly. So far I have four beds that I’m watering – though my cold frame is being taken over by snap-dragons. It’s a curious problem. I think I’m okay with it, but the parsley is yummy. .. .

A deep breath. And another. That was only 5 minutes.

Last night was the first night in a week or so that I wasn’t kept up by intense dreams or mind chatter or whatever it is that keeps one up in the night. Good sleep + connection + chanting makes such a difference to my well being. I’m thankful to have resources.

I have a trio of little red scratches on my arm where I wrestled a piece of metal screen this morning trying to sift my compost.

So blessed to have a day dedicated to tending to my body, mind, soul, and home.


I notice that I and we collectively have a strong
habit of rejecting our experience.

But sometimes, that resistance is good and clear information indicating a need for change.
and I’m breathing through it
because today
there is resistance
and without a story
it is just sensation.
The feeling of my soul catching and
dragging a bit on the movement through space and time.
and where is the line between
teaching our children good and useful things that will benefit their future
and dragging their minds, bodies and souls through the opposition of an educational institution called school.
and how did I become one of the forces doing the dragging?
and still, how do we learn to Show Up if there are not consequences?
and who is in charge of creating consequences if not me?
and how do we learn to ask for what we want if not by hanging out with folks who are open and trying to help you get what you need if only you can figure out how to ask?
and sometimes, no matter what, we would all just rather be doing something else.
and how much of that is a habit?

a : an act or instance of resisting : opposition b : a means of resisting
: the power or capacity to resist: as a : the inherent ability of an organism to resist harmful influences (as disease, toxic agents, or infection) b : the capacity of a species or strain of microorganism to survive exposure to a toxic agent (as a drug) formerly effective against it
: an opposing or retarding force
a : the opposition offered by a body or substance to the passage through it of a steady electric current b : a source of resistance
: a psychological defense mechanism wherein a patient rejects, denies, or otherwise opposes the therapeutic efforts of a psychotherapist
often capitalized : an underground organization of a conquered or nearly conquered country engaging in sabotage and secret operations against occupation forces and collaborators

permaculture and poetry

Last night we went to permaculture class and learned about stacking functions  – (I’m adding a bunch in) one thing to do many: like when you go to town and go to the grocery store, the library and the post office. Like when the orchard grows you apples and mint and asparagus and feeds the sheep too.

And this way that we live, someone planned it that way, but I say, let’s try again, this isn’t workin’. The part where the bankers get rich from moving our money around while the farmers can’t even make it in most towns. The part where we don’t have enough time, but we know what happened on that tv show last night.

In writing class we’re looking at slam poetry and I’m in love with who I could be if I could just dive into the flow and go a tiny bit slower. I’m in love with the apricot blossoms and eating fresh greens. I’m in love. But so often the world feels like a scary place that I don’t want to face the consequences of our actions – I don’t know how to embrace this. The satisfaction that the big businessmen have for selling us a lifestyle that wore out yesterday. It’s worse than a carpetbag salesman ’cause we’re still buying and someone planned it that way.

So now. Can we make a difference, yes. Can we make enough of a difference to turn back the tides and run time the other way – I don’t know. But, is there another show? If I’m not the hundredth monkey, maybe you are – and maybe I’m going to learn to play the guitar and see if I can be happy right where we are.

another spring day

There are now a whole section of daffodils in bloom.
And the apricot blossoming continues, but it is forecast to freeze tonight. We hung up some Christmas lights in one of the trees, I’ll report later if it works.
The wind is strong today.


In yoga class this morning I came into contact with the heartbreaking reality of our subtle aggression towards our bodies. My subtle aggression. We’re doing it constantly – wanting our bodies to be something other than they are right now. And while there is nothing wrong with the desire to be stronger, more flexible, more. . . whatever, it can easily turn into aggression. Of course this habit is fueled by the media and the culture and the ego’s desire to stay in control. Of course you want to be comfortable in your body, but notice what happens when you’re not and how subtly aggressive you can be.

The way to step off this roller coaster is just to stop. Here. Now. Listen. Notice. Pay attention. This body. Not some hypothetical other body, this one. What does your body want to eat? How does your body want to move? Is it time to rest? The body lives in the present moment, so tuning into the body is a simple way to bring yourself into the present moment. Healing happens here. Peace happens here.

I love practicing yoga with the focus on being present in the body as it is. It feels so sane to me. Yes, it will get stronger, but that’s not the point. Yes, it will get more flexible, but that’s not the point. The point is self-care. Honoring the body in the moment, not waiting for that hypothetical later. The body is such an innocent willing servant.


I’m working on a song, I’ll let you know if it’s ever ready.

The bridge is this: Out of the mind, into the body. Out of the mind and just right here.

and now it’s Sunday

the apricots are blooming today, the forsythia is in full force and I forgot to mention the periwinkle flowers are also carpeting the lawn.

I’m not sure this poem is fully formed, but here you go anyway. . .


The sky looks like someone was in a hurry
scattering the air
around the horizon, making wispy clouds
like shoots of electricity, pale sky ribs and visible sound waves.
The mountains form a bowl
around this reflection of
blue and brown in cat-tailed water.
The cranes are the main attraction,
but don’t skip over the terns and geese;
all the little birds I don’t recognize
that keep the air filled
under the hum of human voices.
The cranes are waiting for the signal
to pass among them to flight.
Similar and yet so different
to the telephone calls and website posts
that brought us here
with our binoculars and cameras.

And then,
they are up.
With calls in the back of their throats
like specks of paper thrown to the wind
white on top
black underneath
rising with the heat waves
individuals merely specks in the flock.
And still more joining
the primordial swirl.
And we sit to pass
the binoculars between us and
just take in the sight.
My mom with tears in her eyes
as the birds fly to
the next big safe body of water
taking their instructions.
Melting into the sky
as they pass out from my vision’s limits.

And even before the last crane passes away
the crowd begins to disperse.
“Is it over?” someone asks.
Did you notice?
The show continues – though simpler now.
Black ducks with white bills float and dive for food.
The brush of the breezes stirs the reflections in the water.
The cows keep eating
and we drive back home,
just a bit more open.

time to blog

Hello out there in digital land.

I am feeling the call to the blog. Though I set this up months ago, I haven’t fully engaged. And since I seem to have a bit of free time on my hands right now, with David off on his adventure (in the midwest currently) at a frame drum convention. My plan is to do a bit of writing. Here on this blog. Part of what has stumped me in the past is feeling like a need a theme, but themeless I’m going to tally forth and see if one emerges.

This morning I went to see the cranes lift off in Hart’s Basin. Ah, so beautiful.  I’m still working on my poem, so I’ll share it with you soon. Here’s the website if you’d like to keep up to date on the cranes:

I’ve been finding myself tallying the blossoms this spring in my head to gauge where we are at in the continuum of spring. . . I will share the counts so far we have:
2 calendula blossoms in the cold-frame
crocus bloomed and gone
1 daffodil
forsythia – half blossomed on one bush
buffalo berry blossoming and the bees are psyched
several dandelions

Right now is the time to dig up the dandelions and make roasted dandelion root tea if you have the inclination, it’s great for the liver and spring cleansing. Dig them up, chop off the tops, wash the roots, chop them (or shred in food processor), let dry. Put in oven on cookie sheet for a few minutes until they smell and look toasted. Cool. Store. Brew with hot water (and a little honey).

I’ve been playing the drum-set a little the past several days, I don’t have much stamina, but it is fun and totally absorbing. I’m excited to be teaching frame drum classes in April. So amazing to feel my journey from non-musician to musician and in my 30’s too.

Well, I’m off to go fix the radio flyer wagon I got at a yard-sale today. It needs some cleaning, sanding and painting to prevent rusting.

And I’m off to be gentle, ’cause this having 5 weeks in the house alone has left me surprisingly tender. Or maybe it’s the spring. Or maybe it’s thoughts of the future. Or maybe it’s just what’s happening.