Gratitude Walk

Today, after the 46.7 million travelers have arrived safely, held hands around tables big and small, bowed heads in reverence, scooped, sliced, poured, then devoured, we push back our chairs and declare our thanks for the abundance. Deepak Choprah suggests an idea worthy of our attention on Thanksgiving Day: Take a Gratitude Walk!


Take a Gratitude Walk
This is a particularly useful practice when you’re feeling down or filled with stress and worry. [Or very very well sated by your holiday meal! ] Set aside 20 minutes (or longer if you can) and walk in your neighborhood, through a park, around your office, or somewhere in nature.
As you walk, consider the many things for which you are grateful … nurturing relationships, material comforts, the body that allows you to experience the world, the mind that allows you to really understand yourself, and your essential spiritual nature. Breathe, pause, and be grateful for the air that is filling your lungs and making your life possible.
Pay attention to your senses—everything you’re seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling, and maybe even tasting—and see how many things you can find to feel grateful for. This is a powerful way to shift your mood and open to the flow of abundance that always surrounds you.

imageSounds like a worthy activity today, and everyday. Wishing you and yours much love and joy during this holiday. And safe travels!

Compassionate Action

There has been an outpouring of tremendous world-wide empathy showered on France since the terrorist attack on Paris. On this sentiment it seems all people agree. Beyond that, we fall into a chasm of differences. Over where we should place our attention. Over borders and refugees and immigration and political policy. Over ideology and religion. There are hundreds upon hundreds of blogs stirring up hate, defining us separate from them, each new headline fueling the fire of terror. But none of those charged issues are my concern in this post. I just want to reflect on a more humane reaction. A reaction that elicits compassion. “Empathy is a gateway to compassion. It’s understanding how someone feels, and trying to imagine how that might feel for you — it’s a mode of relating. Compassion takes it further. It’s feeling what that person is feeling, holding it, accepting it, and taking some kind of action” (Chandler).

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the Madonna, revisited

After a long work week, a very long day, and a longer drive, we arrive just before 11 to the dark house. My sister is still in her car when we pull in the driveway behind her. Too sad to open the front door and face the emptiness. But together we go in, and together we begin to sort through all that’s still there.

Our mother made an inviting home for all who visited. A god-daughter stopping by for a luncheon. Her sister up from Philadelphia for the weekend. Dinner parties with old friends and new. Holiday meals and birthdays. All reasons for her to arrange flowers and light candles along her dining room table. My daughter was a summer-long guest while she took on a NYC internship; my youngest son stayed for the whole year after college as he found a job, himself, direction. And always her six coming and going, stopping by to enjoy her hospitality. This, her last home, is imbued with bright sunshine, streaming in all afternoon, as well as reflecting from the yellow walls and warm-toned furnishing.

She was, however, a rolling stone, often on one of her trips. Only in “her pad” (as she referred to her home) here and there. She visited us in Vermont, other children and grandchildren in California, her siblings in Florida, traveled across Europe, exploring the National Parks, Alaska, Egypt, even the Panama Canal. Kept moving that one.

On Saturday we wake early, dash about, reeling like at a garage sale of memories; we pack up the last of her, even though I still see her reflection in the mirror over her dresser as she pulls out a well-worn cashmere sweater from the third drawer. Funny how I can still remember where she kept what, even though her clothes are folded in piles across her bed now, and it’s been decades since I even looked in those drawers.

But now we empty kitchen cupboards and cabinets, drawers and closets, making piles for what goes where, the whole of her boxed and sealed, made ready to be transported elsewhere. How can one laugh while undertaking such a sorrowful task? In my mother’s joyful home, how could one not? So we do. At the end of the weekend, we each drive away with carloads of her, off to our separate homes, carting simple objects made priceless by memory.


What follows this paragraph was posted in November of 2012. For those who were lucky enough to have visited my mother’s home or for those of you who read this blog way back then, I hope this post is a sweet remembrance. For the rest, I invite you in for a glimpse of her home as it was, before, yes, before she was divided into neat piles; for, as we have come to say, mom is everywhere. Indeed.

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Another Anniversary!

For ever I’ve been writing as ideas come crashing in. During certain blocks of time these 64111_251820944901874_1156556246_nwritings took on titled forms, like poem or novel or stage play. No matter the name, these pieces wholly occupied my time and sense of self, appearing like hidden treasures, each a gift on the page. Unlike the wonder and joy I felt while writing, however, forays into publishing were as consuming as quick-sand or as frustrating as a sand-trap: regardless the simile, this aspect of my writing process did not bear fruit. An occasional academic or periodical publication but not with the fanfare in which I suspected a titled “writer” would receive. A person with piles of papers covered with words stored in boxes. Is there a title for that kind of writer? Certainly there have been times when writing did not appear like fairy dust. In fact, I had a particularly dry stretch. After working with an unhelpful agent for a disappointing year, I lost interest and direction, and for a while I stopped writing: for months actually. But then, (and how wonderfully lucky I am), my dearest one suggested I consider blogging. What do I have to say? I responded immediately. I doubt I got more than her one eyebrow lifted before I broke into laughter. Plenty, yes, I’ve had plenty to say, and apparently continue to say, for there is no shortage of ideas springing forth for my weekly posts. This is how it was, during a distant dreary November, now six years ago, that Nine Cent Girl came to me. I’m so glad she did.

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how it happens

picisto-20151027194204-658380No one knows exactly how it happens, but it does. We spend an easy two decades just bopping around, flitting from idea to idea, from that self to this, sort of, kindly put, finding ourselves. Then we hit 30. That magical decade when we are found: Career, Spouse, Homeland. You know the drill. By your 30’s one is expected to know it all. By 30 I had three underfoot, a divorce pending, a new relationship and career underway, and a burning desire to write, write, and write some more; and so, while children grew, outgrew, and moved over and out, I kept at it. All of it. Before I knew it my 30 years had doubled.

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making space

Yoga is comprised of postures that either constrict your blood flow, your organs, and your muscles, or expand and stretch and release all those parts that make up the whole of you. By practicing these back and forth poses you create space in your body, mind, heart, and who knows, perhaps your soul. Just by reaching up while at the same time pressing down. Sort of miraculous. As often happens, these yoga ah ha’s penetrate my consciousness until I’m thinking about creating space in every area of my life. After such a long and constricted period, clearly, I surmised, it was time to fly away. So, I did just that.

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New beginnings open before us each moment, but especially in the Autumn, with golden hues hitting the green, tasseled cow corn tall IMG_7076enough to be harvested, frosty morning air and apple trees laden with fruit: seasonal indicators to prod us forward. The shift from beach chair to classroom comes at the same time. This migration inward is a challenge on every possible level for families across the continent: shuffling schedules, sitting again, waking up to an alarm, sitting again, planning lunches and snacks, sitting again, and how to get all the laundry done? Did I mention sitting again? School sessions are in full swing, for students and teachers alike; together we face those challenges once again.

Thankfully there are bursts of color, everywhere, literally.

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