My hope is to offer encouragement to writers as well as those who simply love to read. You will find eclectic snippets here—news of projects I’m working on, comments regarding books I enjoy, favorite authors, quotes, and reflections regarding my own experiences. I especially like to write about my dreams—those parables in the night seasons. Symbols and metaphors delight and intrigue me. You will find them here.
Join with those who have never said: "Right, that's it. I'm going no further," because as sure as spring follows winter, nothing ever ends; after achieving your objective, you must start again, always using everything you have learned on the way. Join with those who sing, tell stories, take pleasure in life, and have joy in their eyes, because joy is contagious and can prevent others from becoming paralyzed by depression, loneliness and difficulties.~Paulo Coelho (From The Archer)
I'd driven a different route to avoid traffic. However, the side street that cut through downtown was still backed up with cars and I sat at a red light. I could see the building I used to work in and felt a pang of melancholy. I missed the work at times, the moments in the counseling room collaborating with patients who sought help for substance use disorders. I thought especially of one man who'd been assigned to me as a patient. I wondered how he was doing, as right before I retired, he'd moved on from the clinic, his life going well. I thought of the pain in his eyes when we'd first met, his traumatized heart filled with pain and suffering. Weighed down by unresolved grief. Lost to himself. Use of substances had been a way for him to ease the misery, but the effects of the substances were not working anymore and he wanted a way out. He'd bravely asked for help. We worked together for an extended time, and when we ended the counseling relationship, he'd made significant gains--he was no longer using substances to cope, was working a job he was good at. He'd developed a healthy support network. He was no longer lost.
The light turned green and as I drove away from the building, felt a sense of gladness that I'd been able to work there, the clinic a bower of strength and healing for so many. That night I dreamed.
In the dark night of the soul, I reach out to assure myself of things not seen. I must lay my hands on the side of the tree, must feel the prick of grass on my skin, must smell the dirt, must sing to myself a brave lullaby in order to sustain my hopes.--Scott Russell Sanders (From Staying Put)
There are months or years or seasons that feel unbearable. I have been tasked to think of some of those times that felt that way for me as I move through a 12-week study in the book by Julia Cameron entitled, It's Never Too Late To Begin Again. She asks the reader to divide their lives into five year increments, then asks several questions to consider as one remembers that time frame.
Questions like: "Whom did you form new major relationships with in the period?" "Where did you live?" "What was your community during this period? Was it satisfying, complicated, dramatic, supportive?" "What sound do you remember during this time?"
As I thought about some of Ms. Cameron's questions, I remembered my college years. Even having an amiable roommate and surrounded by other students, I was lonely. A major relationship with a boy had ended and I felt abandoned. There was pressure to keep up my grade-point average while working as a reporter for the college newspaper. I was the pledge trainer for my sorority house. I'd been elected to that position by some arm twisting. The anxiety of attempting to manage twenty plus young women with all the sorority regulations was overwhelming. Yet I remembered a "sound."
In the tree cover above me there's a window.~Miranda Cowley Heller (From The Paper Palace)
The morning is unseasonably cooler. The sky is an eclectic composition of grays and pinks, blues and whites. Clouds drift by and the sun blazes through their gauzy covering at intervals. I love the sky. It's an ally who is always there for me. Like my grandmother was.
My grandmother sometimes wore a "mother's ring." I can't remember if there was a stone for each of her eleven children. I do recall as a child when she would grasp my hand. Sometimes the ring would pinch when she squeezed my hand. But I liked the feel of the metal against my skin. I'd take my other hand and trace the tiny stones in her ring with my index finger--little seeds of pale green and topaz, rose and opal. I'd rub my thumb across the blue veins on the top of her small, strong hand. She'd eventually loosen her grip and we'd sit for a while holding hands and watch Jeopardy (she knew a lot of the questions that were really answers) or listen to J. Vernon McGee on the radio.
Lay hold of your freedom, dear heart.~Quote from my book, The Light By Which We See
Things come to me. Like last week. A friend gave me a turquoise and white mug. On its side I read the words, "Go Where You Feel Most Alive." My friend's loving and kind eyes shone when she gave the cup to me. "You can drink your hazelnut coffee in it when you sit down to write." I haven't stopped thinking about the words on the side of the mug. It was an invitation to think about what makes me feel most alive. I thought of the things that don't make me feel alive--too much scrolling on the internet, comparing myself to others who are more beautiful or talented or both, watching life-sapping movies or reading overly dark books, putting pressure on myself to do what I "should" do. People pleasing. "So where do you feel most alive?" I asked myself. I remembered when I began to lay hold of the answer. It came in a dream I had in a hotel room when Giovanni and I traveled to Barcelona, Spain. Room 1614.
I wrote about the experience in my latest book, The Light By Which We See. The cover design was inspired by the encounter in Barcelona.
In the dream, I stopped to look in a mirror and noticed a long hair coming from my eyebrow. I plucked the hair out. But as I looked closer in the mirror, I noticed a minute hole in my skin where the hair had been removed. There was a piece of thread that I could see inside the opening, and I began to pull at it. When I tugged, streams and streams of gauzy fabric began to flow out. I was determined to yank out all the material emerging from that narrow exit. And when the end finally came, I looked down. Mounds of soft, ugly, gray cloth lay at my feet. I observed a faint plaid design in the textile.
Empathy comes from the Greek empatheia--em (into) and pathos (feeling)--a penetration, a kind of travel. It suggests you enter another person's pain as you'd enter another country, through immigration and customs, border crossing by way of query: What grows where you are? What are the laws? What animals graze there?~Leslie Jamison (From The Empathy Exams)
Lizzie Velasquez opened her laptop on a regular day after school. Her mind couldn't fathom the horrific nature of what she discovered. A post declared Lizzie "The Ugliest Woman In The World." Comments ranged from "You should put a bag over your head and put the world out of its misery," to "You just need to go and shoot yourself." The post had over four million views. At that point, LIzzie Valasquez was a teenager living with a genetic disease so baffling and rare, multiple doctors could not diagnose the condition. She was born at 2 lbs 10 oz. The doctors told her parents, "She'll never walk, she'll never talk. She'll be a vegetable." But LIzzie's parents said, "She's ours. We'll take her home and love her." LIzzie grew up to walk and talk and do well in school. The love and unconditional positive regard in her home became foundational to her identity.