ON the Road to Calm

February 19, 2019

on morning walk wind 

nips at ears, whispering of 

snow, a broken branch -

Last week I attended a program called 500 Years of Haiku at Upaya Zen Center. Natalie Goldberg and Clark Strand were teaching, two important mentors in my writing life through their respective books, Writing Down the Bones and Seeds From a Birch Tree. I was craving quiet and inspiration. New to group meditation, I was surprised by the silence of seventy people within one room, the way it opened up a river of quiet that I gladly let sweep me down its soft current. There was bowing on entering and leaving the zendo, also before sitting dow...

July 31, 2017

“Oh you need to say yes a lot!” ­

– Naomi Shihab Nye. 

An idea can take hold of our lives and not let go, even if we have no clue how to manifest it, even if it seems to disappear for long chunks of time, or an old belief nags us with its whispered No. In the midst of finally listening to the idea and doing something about it, extreme emotions and physical aches can become the norm, and contrary to logic, this idea becomes the very inspiration that gets us up in the morning (often in la madrugada—the dark before the dawn).

Or at least that is what has happened to me over the last year, as old memories and stories jo...

January 20, 2016



Six friends have died in the last ten months. In the stark realization of no more hugs or laughs or conversation between us, histories and future plans suddenly come to a stop, friendships and love irretrievably gone—a sense of disbelief has lingered beside the grief. I thought I could write about this, how loss constricts everything in its path, and how if we’re lucky, over time we are opened up to a life that, although so very different and completely changed, is irrevocably worthy of inhabiting and loving again.


Yet as these words come out, the immensity of the subject makes me go inward, and into the past. Loss,...

July 10, 2010

I facilitated a Writing Toward Wellness workshop in northern California in May. The day was spent exploring writing and poetry as an awareness tool: the transformative power of our words as personal guide and support. For the workshop, we defined wellness as being in conscious communication with all our essential parts.


At the end of the day, the seven participants read their favorite piece from the writings of the day. Listening to each one, I wrote down one line or phrase that ‘spoke’ to me. I scribbled the lines on a piece of paper. The next day I assembled a ‘found poem’ from the seven lines/phrases. With wondrous...

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". . . as necessary for

today as breath . . ."

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