Posts Tagged ‘nature’


The Sky and the Page

May 29, 2019
agriculture clouds countryside cropland

Photo by Ákos Szabó on


To escape annual May snowstorms (truth), I find ways to write and work away from home. Although it would be lovely to hop on a plane and head somewhere exotic, I usually settle for something a bit more realistic.

Like Nebraska.

This year, after I finished grading papers and wrapping up the semester, I found a small space to rent on a Mennonite organic popcorn farm. Who knew? But the cabin was the perfect size and place for a writer on retreat. In addition to a chair and a bed, I had a small desk and an outside picnic table perched under a tree filled with songbirds. The property came with two happy dogs, chickens, cows, a couple of old barns, and gracious hosts.

To break up the writing, I took long walks down dirt roads. Sky surrounded me in every direction, and it wasn’t hard to imagine pioneers plodding across the prairie in their covered wagons. Not much changes on the prairie.

Except the sky.

The sky in Nebraska was nothing short of spectacular, opening itself with outstretched arms. Birds welcomed the sun in the morning and sung it goodnight in the evening when the colors changed from dusty blue to violet black. The wind whipped across the grasslands. Throughout the day, clouds came and went, gathered and scattered. In the distance, lightning struck, and rain fell.

As I wrote, the sky became my metaphor for the page.

The morning skies ushered the sun, and my day began with hope. As my shoulders warmed, my writing worked. But later, I struggled for the correct word, the just-right sentence. Thoughts jammed inside my head like the clouds cramming together to block the sun.

I slammed my computer shut. The rain came. Finally, when the smell of sweet grass filled the air, a fresh idea, a different twist and take on the story, came to mind. My fingers flew across the keyboard as the shape of the sky transformed into something new, something breathtaking.

During my stay, the pattern of change repeated itself. When the rain arrived, or the sun seared, I took breaks. I played with crayons and read stories. I napped. When my thoughts struggled, I moved. I walked and ran and drove across the prairie, and eventually, new ideas appeared. Allowing myself space to stand back gave me and my work renewed life.

The Nebraskan sky spoke to me. I surrendered to its never-ending bursts and applied that to my work. I paid attention to the way the sky, my writing, and my life transformed throughout the day. Harmony. My work had its challenges, but like the sky, I had amazing moments, stretching far and wide.

Both beauty and words arrived.



Quotes (for me and maybe for you, too)

February 10, 2019
choices decision doors doorway

Photo by Pixabay on

As the light slowly begins to return to the Northern hemisphere, so does change. At least for me. For reasons I’ll write about soon, these quotes speak to me, and I hope, for you as well.

Faith includes noticing the mess, the emptiness and discomfort, and letting it be there until some light returns.

–Anne Lamott

The root of the problem lies in the way we deal with change. Most of us feel soinsecure that we want to create a structure around us makes us feel safe and then wedon’t want it to change. Any change increases our uncertainty and our confusion andour inadequacy. And it frightens us

Think of how bizarre that is, because you are a part of nature. Look out there, and youshow me something out there that isn’t changing. The nature of things is that theychange, including us. Do you see how you’re in a losing strategy if you pit yourselfagainst change? See, it’s a losing game.

-Ram Dass

The road to something is the start of something.

–K. GiselleBasilwango

…Only we can create that change—with skills like cooperation, community, cohesion, collaboration—that will see us through this dark night of the planet’s soul. The roots of each word is “co”, meaning together. Only with others can we create a kind, flourishing world. However (and this is hard), it means banishing the idea that your outrage and effort alone can fix this. It can’t. Only together can we right the wrongs, heal what has been broken, and over come the obstacles ahead. Together.




And Yet: Gratitude for the Moment

November 15, 2018
backlit clouds dawn dusk

Photo by Pixabay on

Gratitude. While wildfires strip lives, and storms rip away homes, it’s hard to feel grateful. It’s hard to feel grateful when we see pollution and destruction and division. It’s hard to feel grateful when people are hurt and hungry and suffering.

And yet.

The birds still sing.

Dogs wag their tails.

Sun warms our skin.

Peach juice drips down one’s chin, delicious and juicy.

Ice-cream sweetens the tongue.

Someone opens the door and smiles.

The breeze blows gently; bringing with it the smell of soft rain.

A pillow offers welcome relief at the end of a long day.

Someone says thank you and another whispers you’re welcome.

And yet.

There are hundreds of small moments to offer gratitude. In a world where so much is out of our control, leaving us helpless and frustrated, it’s even more important to find gratitude in the present. It is the everyday flashes of beauty and joy that will bring a sense of hope. A sense of wellbeing. A sense of gratitude.

Happy Thanksgiving.





Mom’s Wise Words

December 1, 2015

My mom turns 85 this month, although if you’d met her, you’d swear she was 55. This month’s blog is in her honor.

Mom loves lists. She has on-going lists for the grocery, her daily chores, her weekly and monthly activities. She makes lists of people she needs to call, to thank, and to write. She’s even made lists for all her books, her rock collection, and the kinds of flowers she’s planted. I love my mom and am sharing a list of her wisdom. She’s far too humble to list it herself, but these are five things I know she’d agree to; attributes that she represents.

  1. Love: simple and yet complicated—love yourself, love God, love your family, friends, and your enemies.
  2. Nap: rest well and take care of yourself. Naps also give you time to create.
  3. Appreciate Nature: all of the answers are there.
  4. Get a C: no one is perfect, we learn from our mistakes, and no one does well under constant pressure to get all A’s.
  5. Care: make a difference in the world. It can be as simple as making muffins for a neighbor, volunteering at an event, or writing Congress to demand better resolutions.

Thanks Mom! And Happy Holidays to all.


Did Chief Seattle Smell Stinky Feet?

June 1, 2009

All things share the same breath- the beast, the tree, the man, the air shares its spirit with all the life it supports. -Chief Seattle

Chief, did you ever breathe the stink of boys’ socks after a basketball game? How about adolescent girl perfume? And smog from the city? Somehow, I gotta think the breath of today is not the same as the breath of yesteryear.

Do we really want to share our breath? Do we really want to breathe at all?

Yesterday, I caught my six-year-old rolling upside down on her bed with her feet in her face. At least she wasn’t standing with her toes in the toilet like she did when she was two, but still. What was she doing?

I asked.

“I’m smelling my feet! Wanna smell?”

No thanks.

“But they smell good! Come on, smell!”

So I did. Good, would not be the adjective I would use, but I didn’t say so.

Maybe letting our children develop a healthy sense of who they are, even if it includes odorous body parts, encourages self-esteem. Besides, do I want a daughter adorned with Chanel, sporting perfectly pressed ribbons, and who wears make-up and high heels? I do not. While sticking one’s toes in one’s nose might not be the most lady-like habit on the planet, it does allow for exploration and eventual self-confidence.

If I try hard, I can get over the smell of stinky feet and recognize that to a six-year-old, a whiff of a toe may be divine. The old Chief was right. We are all on this planet breathing the same air that gives us life. Maybe we won’t like the same sweet smells, but, recognizing that we connect through breath is the first step toward a more peaceful existence.

On the other hand, they do sell some mighty fine peppermint foot lotion. . .


Sing, Sing a Song

March 9, 2009

Go Everywhere With a Thousand Voices Singing.


You don’t want me singing anytime soon. I can’t remember the words to Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, let alone carry a tune.

My 9-year-old son likes to sing, but I’m not sure anyone would want to hear a thousand voices like his. Tye’s a big kid. Barrel chested and full of life. He likes to sing opera in the morning, just to annoy his sisters. It works.

Do we really want to walk around with a thousand voices in our head? I have enough of my own, thank you very much. “Remember to pick up milk,” “Don’t forget to send that writing assignment by Monday,” “Tye’s practice was moved,” “The time changed too, but I can’t remember when,” “The dog needs more food,” “Haircut was cancelled,” “Confirm the speaking engagement,” “Email teachers,” and the list goes on.

The voices in my head don’t sing. They chatter and whine and sometimes they scream.

So, how do I get them to sing? I wouldn’t mind the chatter if they burst into song. Then again, do I really want the likes of Jim Morrison belting lyrics in my brain? Well, he’s dead, but even Bruce Springsteen might get annoying. Maybe the key is to have a chorus. Maybe a thousand voices in perfect pitch is the answer. It might work if I could find the right voices.

If I could still, just for a moment, the endless garbage rattling around in my head and look out the window to find the chorus, I might have a chance. Chirping birds? Nah. At 10,000 feet, birds are the size of raccoons, and they caw. Perhaps, the wind. The wind whispers lullabies through the tree branches. Except, where we live the wind surges louder than a snowplow. No one should live this high.

What else could be my musical muse?

Simple, if I think about it. Snowflakes, of course! Me and the cold stuff go hand in hand. Ah ha! My holy grail. For me, a thousand voices will sing from snowflakes and drown out my mind’s chatter. Funny, how things are right, smack dab in front of us, most of the time.

I just hope my snowflakes don’t sing like Barry Manilow.