Go Inward

a new painting perfect for winter and inward looking. it’s part of a set in my sacred series.

“The doctor may explain why the patient is dead, but never why the patient is alive.” ~Declan Donnellan

Once, tromping through a biodynamic vineyard, Barney explained to me that winter is the time for the energy of the vine to go to the root. The vine that appears dormant above ground is, in fact, actively recharging below the surface. The energy goes inward. The root rejuvenates, drinking in the minerals necessary for the new growth of the coming spring. The fruit of the summer is impossible without the rejuvenation of winter.

We are not so different from the vines though language can trick us into compartmentalizing, perceiving winter as distinct and separate from summer, the inhale as a separate action from the exhale, tides that ebb and then flow. Cycles of life have compartments in study but never in real life. The compartments are made up for the convenience of categorization and conversation.

These past few weeks we’ve been cleaning out our house, going through old boxes and files, shredding old bills, carrying furniture and computer carcasses to the curb. Old clothes are going away. Closets and bins are emptied. The house is beginning to breathe. There is space. Spaciousness. We are laughing at old pictures, sometimes cringing. This day’s new-found spaciousness inspires the next day’s cleaning rampage. It is invigorating. Rejuvenating.

and this is the other half of the set. winter has me looking inward and exploring simplicity in line and space.

Our cleaning tsunami wasn’t planned. Our computer crashed. Our work was interrupted. Our expression was limited. We complained and resisted and then turned our energies elsewhere. Inward. Going through and releasing old stuff, past lives, creating space, is rejuvenating. We are taking our time. We are going slowly. It is oddly restful.

Driving home from our walk in the woods, we laughed at ourselves. Mock-praising our virtuous cleaning, exaggerating and inflating our new found spaciousness to full spiritual illumination, we pretended we’d achieved life beyond wanting, living without yearning. Consciousness beyond compartments. Wiping laughter-tears from her eyes, Kerri said, “Wait! This could be boring! What is life without desiring some red wine while cooking dinner? What about the pleasure of yearning for morning coffee? With all this new found space….”


Be An Avid Catcher Of Your Thoughts


Be an avid catcher of your thoughts

This notion is the heart of change. It is the practice of self-awareness. Listen to the story you tell yourself about your self.  It is ripe with ideas, dreams, and yearnings. It is also ripe with fears, doubts, and comparisons. Capture the ideas. Listen to the dreams. Follow the yearnings. It’s a muscle. Develop a focus for the creative. Capture what’s useful and let the other jabber go.

Screen Shot Avid Catcher


Have The Conversation

A painting I did twenty years ago of my dad. I call him Columbus.

A painting I did twenty years ago of my dad. I call him Columbus.

When Bob died I wrote his wife, Ruby, a note saying that I’d give anything to have another conversation with Bob. Just one more conversation.

When Jim wrote to tell me of Doug’s passing, we had an email exchange.

I signed off the email with this phrase: “Yet another conversation I will never have….” Jim answered with a warm reminiscence of Doug, a recounting of their meeting as young teachers, watching Doug navigate and ultimately heal the psychological wounds from war. Jim signed off with this thought:

War is not just hell.  It is eternal hell.  Particularly for those with first hand experience. Why the race continues to tolerate it may be the greatest mystery. Another conversation I will never have with Doug.

I remember in vivid detail the last conversation I had with Tom. He was already sliding into the hell of his dementia and knew it. He desperately wanted to tell me a story, something that was vitally important for me to know though he did not know why. I sat attentive in his small cabin home as he told me the story of the lost boy, a story that together we’d spent years developing into a play. I’d heard the story a thousand times and he no longer remembered. He forgot everything but the imperative to tell me the story, to transmit the history to me. So we enacted the ritual as our final conversation.

Columbus fishing at his 80th birthday celebration.

Columbus fishing at his 80th birthday celebration.

Many years ago I traveled home to spend time with my dad. I wanted to know who he was and felt as if I’d missed it, as if I didn’t really know the person behind the role. He was generous and vulnerable and spent three days with me answering all my questions, sharing the inner sanctum of his thought and being. It was the greatest gift I have ever been given and, at the same time, the greatest gift I have given myself: I asked if he would spend time with me.

One of the things I learned during those days with my dad is that there will always be the yearning for one more conversation. There is no bottom to the magic and mystery of the people that we love and who give order and richness to our world. This year I am learning that although there will always be the yearning for just one more conversation, there will of necessity be a last exchange. And, because that is an inescapable truth, there is nothing more important on this earth than to take the time, make the space, to ask, “How are you doing? What’s happening in your world?”

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Stand In The Cornfield

647. Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

Many years ago I painted a portrait of my father standing in a cornfield. It was an odd painting for me to do at the time as I’d stopped doing portraits years before. I just had to do it. I wasn’t working from a photograph; I just knew he had to be standing in a cornfield. It is a painting I never show. It is a painting of yearning fulfilled.

My father was born in a small farming town in Iowa and spent his adult life yearning to live in the place of his birth. He moved for work and then for love and although he knew where he wanted to be, he could not find a way to return. I put him in the cornfield because symbolically that was where he most wanted to be: in a small community, contained, where life made sense, where people knew where they fit and where people were not in so much of a hurry that they would stop and talk.

Yearning is a funny thing. Yearning is a necessary thing. Yearning is not what is missing; it is the space between where you are and where you want to be. Yearning can be fuel. It can help clarify what you want and energize your actions toward manifesting your desire. Or, it can twist your guts and make you bitter: unspent energy needs to do something and if it is not moving toward your fulfillment it will knot your belly and make your neck tense. Once in a class, I watched several people give speeches. Many put their energy into the speech and where poised, present. Many others were ungrounded and unconsciously pounded the podium or wiggled their legs; energy must have someplace to go.

Yearning can be proof of separation (“I don’t have what I want”) or proof of connectivity (“this is what I will create”). The difference lives in how you define yourself: if you are in this life looking for what you can get, your yearning will probably feel a lot like separation. If you are in this life living according to what you bring to it, your yearning will be an umbilical cord to what you will create and will nourish you in the creating.