With all the little “t” froufra and fear swirling around the country and so many good choices of what to do one overarching message has been haunting me. The Dalai Lama has said more than any successes or discoveries what the world needs most is kindness.

I was on the way to Walgreens on Mission St. several weeks ago to pick up a subscription for a friend and I was stressed out so I decided to park illegally in the Safeway lot.  Hey, I just didn’t feel like driving around for 15 minutes—looking. I dashed out of the car, and stopped.  Shouting. Screaming.  There on the street between me and the door to the pharmacy was a tall, hairy, bedraggled man dragging a couple of bags, jutting his face at everyone, and telling everyone to F---off. I was tired. He was scary.  People were walking around him in wide berths, eyes to the ground.  I took a deep breath, stood up tall and walked toward him. I looked him straight in the eye. Not angry. Not judgmental. But, straight.

He looked back.  He said, “When I am overloaded I lash out.”

I said, “I understand,” looking directly at him and wondering with a slight tug if I was putting myself in danger. Where is this gonna go? I was alert just in case.

He looked at me directly back again and said, “You are kind. You are really a kind person.” in a soft voice.

My face broke out in smile. His comment dove straight to my heart.

I said with deep feeling:  “Take care of yourself” and continued walking.

When I came out later I saw him sitting on the ground happily eating French fries. He was in a totally different place and I had a glow in my heart. It’s still there.


Epihanies about Fear and a Poem


I was in the studio today working on a performance of a poem about accepting fear and giving it its place in my life. I had written most of this blog yesterday, but in moving it, singing it, speaking it out loud, I realized I had papered over my relationship. I had put a big fat bow on it. I may have had some of the bones, but I was missing the basic relationship. I had two epiphanies: 1. When I am the most afraid of fear I try to control it by pretending that I am not afraid. 2. The many different parts of myself have different relationships to fear. And the relationships are constantly changing dependent on the situation, the stakes, and what it calls out in me.

I can ride fear, run from it, overthink it, laugh at it, let its adrenaline move me to act NOW, get overwhelmed by it, freeze it, give it too much power, make it bigger than it is, drag the past into it, make it more real than every other part of myself, get it confused with excitement. The list goes on.  All of this has impact. And I think it is important to know what the impact is.

But, the meat of the day-to-day relationship is just Feeling. It is a feeling after all. Just letting myself feel its uncomfortableness and let it shape shift and move in my body. Let me listen. Let the serpent tell its truth. Breathe, feel.( If it is too overwhelming I make the time short). There is a gift in this: almost always I end up feeling lighter and more fluid. And that’s it. There is no mastery, no finish line, no bow.

And now the poem:


Black petals taste bitter
On the lips
Long fingers smudge my cheeks
While ashes keep
To their own circle.
Can bring the gentlest things.
And Fear is a thread through life.


Thoughts About Feelings and a Poem

Feelings are apart of who I am.  They are a current that runs through me.  They can tell me to attend to something that is impacting me. They can tell me to follow a deep desire.  They can be distortions of thinking, old patterns, or induced by lack of sleep or drugs (Painkillers after surgery were a hard teacher). Sometimes they are only a tiny part of me. For me feelings are like dreams. They need attention and space to breathe and move to be part of my life and flesh out who I am.

And now the poem:


For Miyazaki

green green all is green
morning: pressure building mounting compression darkening clouds thicken
sky and me about to burst
a Scheherazade wind sweeps in
redwood boughs blow down and up
skimmering the roof of the old Dutch barn
setting off needles in a twisting twirling dance

and then the rains came

a rush of water tumbles down is struck sideways by sudden gust
and swims across the sky

a shift in the wind

water streams straight down in glistening strands
the sound of fall
earth becomes drum
and it in turn plays me


the wind comes back bouncing

puffs of air displace drips with pockets of air
patterns of water and clouds of space—
silence in the empty places

a shift again

rain begins to slant in a diagonal vector—                                                    
moves to syncopated pings:  ping   pingping  pingpingping           ping
(my lips curl in smile)

the very air becomes a factor

still, clear
I can see straight through
to forever

below, green green all is…

my moods move like weather
(on any given day).

all is green

Shouting out for...

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert.  (Disclosure: When she first came out with “Eat, Pray, Love” I was both jealous and judgmental: to me it was a one-idea book without much depth). Years later and three weeks ago, I found myself standing in front of her latest book. I grabbed it off the table. I went home and devoured it: I have been struggling with beginning to look for publishers for my “Everyday Mermaid” book. I kept getting side tracked, making detours.  One day I realized: I was scared.

I found answerswhich I knew, but Gilbert defined so clearly: You live the creative life because it’s fun. It satisfies your curiosity, your deep desires, and takes you to places you could never imagine. It’s paradoxical:  It demands you work hard and persistently while it’s also a trickster. It demands lightheartedness. It makes you happy.

 She blows up the old tortured artist myth. It’s the ego which creates a lot of blocks and fears. So she says don’t let your ego mess you up with whether the book is a “success” or not. Don’t let this fear get in the way of either your work or putting it out.  Don’t let perfectionism freeze and stifle you. Put your book out with a “ferocious trust”.

Gilbert covers most of the demons and angels of the creative life, but always with a sense of fun and humility.  Marvelous anecdotes, good research into theories and studies. I personally could NOT have read another dry, self-help book.  It’s a hoot. Now don’t stumble on some of the “magic” ideas in the book. If it’s a problem for you, read these parts likea novel because they convey the spirit of a beautiful approach which can give you more tools for living life creatively.  Thank you Elizabeth Gilbert for bringing me back.  I have been eating a lot of pie lately.



Words are precious. Words are multi-dimensional. Words have many different kinds of uses. They point to an object. They describe an object. They help us think. They create thinking. They express feeling. They help us differentiate feelings. But lately words are being more and more consigned to the printed page or the electronic page and in turn this use is impacting how we hear the words. Our relationship to words is changing. We are receiving gifts, but we are losing deliciousness. For words are tonal. Words began in the breath and the mouth. The breath took a shape in the mouth and on the lips. And this shape probably matched the feelings or objects it described. Exhilaration, exclaiming the experience of some feeling or something. Our animal response. Tones slip out and shape themselves in the world. Carrying our inner response out and making it concrete and physical to ourselves and others. 

Once out, these tonalities play you. They speak to the body part of you. These waves of sound with their tonalities and tastes of rhythm create physical sensations. Sensations which carry you more deeply into an experience, more deeply into contact with the object of the word, or more deeply into another world.  Words are music, and like music they can become the muse which expands your world, your experience, and your pleasure, help you more clearly feel your pain which then is released. Shakespeare knew this. Dylan Thomas knew this. Yeats knew this. Words clank, clang, bang, bonk and fuck, push and shove, send innuendos exquisitely sliding in the air like a seductive perfume caressing your ears and skin, sets you tingling and vibrating like a harp.  Or make you clutch your belly, stop you up, or fall you to the ground. This is being human.  This is living in the world.