Stepping Stones and the Zen Master

I kept walking in the great expanse of old broken sticks, fallen trees, dead fern and dried up riverbeds. There was nothing left to this side. It was dead, and with each step came a deep sadness. I shuffled along the dry earth looking for a way to escape it. I walked for several hours, head bowed and heart broken before I reached the churning clean river.

The river fought with gusto as it danced fast over rocks and banks. The water was clear and I drank from it. Pure and clean its taste was sweet. I found a clearing on the banks and looked to the other side. I sat and observed the green on the other side. I remembered the cliche, “it’s always greener on the other side.” In this case it appeared to be true.

I heard steps gently breaking the fallen branches as they moved towards me. There in front of me was a Zen Master. Quietly he took a spot next to me and just sat.

“Breathe into the freshness of what is around you. It’s wonderful and sweet. Are you aware of it as it fills your lungs and lightens you?”

Surprised that he appeared next me and was directing me, I was at a loss of words. I did as he said and breathed in the sweet smell of green and felt my lungs fill with life.

“Energy flows where the attention goes. To awaken is to become who we are,” said the Zen Master. “What is your intention?”

I told him that I dreamed of getting to the other side, but didn’t know how to escape the deadness I was in.

“Then why don’t you do it? If you have clarity and awareness of your intention, you could cross to the other side. Look around you. What do you see?”

I saw large smooth stones that crossed in a path to the other side. Why hadn’t I noticed them before. They must not have been there before, I thought. As if he read my thoughts, he nodded and smiled.

“They were there all along. You were blinded to their possibilities, and open only to the prospect of staying stuck in this dead space. Awareness of the present moment, of being part of something much greater inside you, has and will always bring you clarity of your intention. It is not hard. Just breathe the sweet air of possibility rather than focusing on the lack of movement. This stream is pure and clean because it moves, changes, and rushes over every obstacle. It’s alive and free-flowing. You can be like this stream.”

I reached over to touch him and thank him for his wisdom, but he was gone. I looked around me and he was nowhere to be found. I sat there for many minutes in awe of what I had just experienced. Perhaps he was actually my inner voice. I got up and stepped down to embankment into the cold stream. As I looked closely at the rocks, I saw words of wisdom on each surface as I took my steps.

Clarity…..Awareness…….Intention……Manifest……POSSIBILITIES and ABUNDANCE

“Always say “yes” to the present moment. What could be more futile, more insane, than to create inner resistance to what already is? what could be more insane than to oppose life itself, which is now and always now? Surrender to what is. Say “yes” to life — and see how life suddenly starts working for you rather than against you.”
Eckhart Tolle

Please comment and let me know your thoughts!


Today I Put it to Rest

Today I decided to put my company to rest. After 16 years of working with the disabled, I closed my company in December 2012, and today I have boxed it all up. Glancing and reading through old files and programs, I was both happy and sad. Over 2,000 people I have serviced in my years, and with that ten times the memories.

Today I decided to put my life in order. After years of being a mom, a grandmother and wife, ex-wife, I put my thoughts, in a file cabinet in hopes that those I leave behind will read what I have written about so many periods of my life- my happiest times, and my low times. I have filed away years of writing to leave it in wait for when my children will come across it and finally understand who I am.

Today I ran across an old goal list I wrote in 2001. Out of 25 goals, I reached only 3. I put away the list, and will start a new one. Many of my goals no longer exist, such as being the best company, or having a new dream house. My goals were misdirected, and caused so much heartache in my marriage and life. Now I have no marriage, and no dream house.

Today I put my past to rest.
Today I am happy to have a house, small and old as it is.
Today I realized how much I have learned from my past.
Today I love my children deeper and richer
Today I love my life- simple as it is
Today I look forward to what is to come with no expectations
Today I packed away my regrets and am now thankful that the regrets brought me to the place I am now.

Les Brown said, “The good times we put in our pocket. The hard times we put in our hearts.”

Today I put them in a safe place to take out and hold in memory and quiet expectation and joy with no regrets, only sweet and bitter life lessons.

What have you learned from you life lessons?

Persistance, Surrender, and Finding Your Cheese

“Nothing ever happens in the past that can prevent you from being present now, and if the past cannot prevent you from being present now, what power does it have?”
Eckhart Tolle

I did myself a favor today. I took a walk to the beach to clear my head. Persistence and surrender came to mind as I sat on the bench looking across the water. Persistence is both a good and bad thing. In my case, persistence has been both a burden and a blessing. I was persistent in staying in a past that no longer existed– that was the burden. Persistence in living in the present moment is the blessing.

Surrender is the savior. It reduces the persistent gnawing that I have had about the past. I hate to admit it, but I am the worst at letting go of memories and seem to be persistent in forgetting the worst times. I know when I’m doing it. I recognize this weakness in myself. I know I have to surrender the past and move forward in the future. Surrendering my past, has been the blessing. In surrender comes freedom to explore new possibilities and new life changes in the present moment. Life is so good when the past is put away and a new road awaits.

The Mouse, The Zen Master and the Cheese

The Zen Master was taking his afternoon walk. As he looked down, he saw his rodent friend the mouse, and reached down to pick him up. ” Still looking in the same places I see. You look troubled and so unhappy.”

The little mouse sighed. “I want the cheese I used to get. I keep remembering how good it tasted, and how beautiful it was to look at. Now all I get is dull looking cheese with holes in it. Nothing satisfies me like the cheese I once got.”

The Zen Master stroked the mouse’s head and looked deep into the little mouse’s eyes. “I can see you are hurting, but not to worry. It’s all about attitude and surrender. What you had was good cheese, but there are so many other wonderful things to taste. You have forgotten that even the best cheese can go bad. If you persist in looking for what you once had, all the rest that is here in front of you goes unnoticed and never to be savored. You will miss the best to come! You cannot be like your cousin the hampster on a wheel just working and working and going nowhere. It isn’t in you to stay in one place.” The Zen Master reached down and saw some crumbs of bread on the ground. “Did you see this? It is full of yummy things for you. Taste it for a new flavor. Touch it for its new feel. Smell it for its sweetness.” He passed it to the mouse who did what he was told.

The mouse’s little nose sniffed at its sweet smell. Umm, it’s a good smell, he thought. His little paws placed the bread in his mouth. He closed his eyes and chewed. “Umm, it tastes as good as it smells, ” he said to the Zen Master. “Now I get what you are trying to tell me. If I hadn’t been open to surrender, I would have missed this experience.”

The Zen Master smiled as he saw the look of pleasure and happiness on the mouse’s face. He placed the mouse back on the ground, and said, “now go and be happy with what is waiting for you now. I guarantee you will be happy with all the new joys life has to offer.” The little mouse scurried off to find what else was waiting for him, and the Zen Master smiled as he watched his little friend run off to new happiness.

What ways have you had to surrender to your past? Please comment in the comment section. I am most interested in sharing.

The Mighty Schwinn Still Lives

Out from the dust of the attic, I got out my first bike. I remember getting this bike on my 5th Christmas and how hard it was to not ride it until the snow and ice went away for the spring. Dark blue and white shiny fenders, red handle grips, and my own city bike license filled me with pride and excitement. It was my first taste of independence. Mom allowed me to ride my bike to the corner and back as much as I wanted. I remember that feeling of freedom as the wind pushed back my pony tails and kissed my face.

Creative and imaginative me could see worlds not possible until I got the Schwinn to transport me to these places and adventures, even though the corner was just four houses down from my own. The wonder of it all! Racing on fat tires with the sound of baseball cards pinned to the spokes was my favorite sound and feeling as my imagination took me up and down mountains, across rivers, through thick forests to rescue my friend Tommy who lived just down the street. The faster I went the louder the sounds on my bike spokes as the cards clicked back and forth.

And then I grew up. My bike was replaced with bigger and “better” bikes as I grew, but no bike could replace the feeling I had with that Schwinn. I kept it for all these years when the bigger bikes were given away.Rust grew on its fenders, the handle grips are no longer racing red, the shining handle bars are brown from years of moisture and neglect. The fat tires that raced me on my adventures were now flat and cracked. It is considered an antique now.

Yesterday I decided she could be put to better use than cluttering up my attic. I washed and dusted her off, and as I did memories flooded back of a little girl who found magic in this wonderful bike now rusted and broken. She was stationary for so long that she squeaked. Like me, she has grown old, but her imperfections are beautiful. The rust on her bike rims and wheels were well earned and told me stories of years of use and adventures.

Today I made a special place in my garden for my bike. Dusted off and clean, she proudly boasts a special spot in my garden. On her seat is a beautiful basket of flowers. Nature surrounds her. The squirrels have noticed. The birds have noticed the feeder that attaches to the handlebars they perch on. I have given her life again, despite her age.

I’m not that different from my bike. Time has worn me, but I can still be beautiful with new adventures and friends. It’s all good.

I would like to hear about a childhood memory you have held on to. Please write in the comment section.

Fifty Excuses

Ten years of writing is a long time. I started my writing with extreme panic and trepidation of  having to “share” with a group of strangers who I felt were all future Pulitzer Prize Winners.  Until then, my writing was for me alone to read and admire. I had no one to critique me, no one to ask, “what does that mean?” Now, ten years later, I have gotten over my fear of public rejection by creating meaningful reasons to explain my lack of writing.

I’m sure you can all relate to having a blank page, which is why I’m sharing my excuses with you, my fellow writing members. Please feel free to use them should your creativity run dry or your lack of enthusiasm overpowers your need to write.

1. My underwear was too tight causing me to pucker.  How could I concentrate?

2. My brain hurts..

3. My computer took a dump.

4. I had no paper or writing utensils.

5. I have no feathered hat to wear.

6. I had to clean the house before I could feel “together.”

7. The world situation is too much for me to bear.

8. I ran out of my meds.  The voices in my head won’t go away.

9. The damn sun was too bright and hurt my eyes.

10. I had to prepare for the triathlon.

11. The neighbors were mowing their lawn.

12. The neighbors mowed grass triggered my sinus problem.

13. I had to celebrate the 12 days of Christmas.

14. I had to shop for the 12 days of Christmas.

15. I had to wrap packages for the 12 days of Christmas.

16. Winter makes me so tired.

17. Leaves, leaves, leaves.  Rake, rake, rake.  They never stop coming down.

18. I have a deadline at work.

19. Do you know how long it takes to pick lint off a navy suit?

20. I need a break.

21. My fingers have been so sore I can’t type.

22. My family needs me right now.

23. I can’t pull myself away from the news.

24. I’m just too happy these days.

25. Our power went off for days.

26. I had to feed the hungry.

27. Hawaii.  How could I turn that down?

28. The trip was exhausting.

29. Do you have any idea how many weeds I have to pull out?

30.  Someone has to do it.  No writing today.

31. Time has just flown by.  Next meeting, I promise.

32. Volunteerism is very important.

33. 42 days locked in a room with Dr. Phil.

34. Looking for “it.”

35. I can’t seem to get “it” together.

36. The soaps are all at a climax.

37. I had to organize all my photos from the last thirty years.

38. I have to explore my spirituality at this time in my life.

39. I have no time to myself.

40. I felt the earth move.  My equilibrium must be off.

41. My feet go numb when I sit too long.

42. I’ve been reading Oprah’s latest book club selection.  I just can’t put it down.

43. I’m changing the world–one person at a time.

44.  Keeping watch for foreign invasion is taking up most of my time.

45. Ten years of rewrites and it can’t be found!

46. Dejected, rejected. Who gives a crap anymore?

47. I’m in doubt, so I don’t.

48. The trouble is, is  that he won’t leave me alone to my thoughts.

49. I’ll let everyone else in the group have a turn.

50. Success is really just the journey, not the completion.

I wrote the above 10 years ago.  Hard to believe, but now I am in a better place, and I actually am writing. Lately I have taken up the book, Writing Down the Bones, by Natalie Goldberg. It is a book I had to read twenty years ago in my creative writing class in college. I recommend this book to anyone who is a writer of any type of genre. So what can we do if ideas or creativity starts to run dry?

1.Meet with a writing friend or friends for coffee to share what you have been writing. With the ease of email, a meeting isn’t required, but it is much nicer to get out with your writing and your friend. When I do this it does spur me on to have something to share.

2. Start or join a writer’s group. Natalie lived in Taos, New Mexico, so there was never a shortage of writers, but in your area or mine, they aren’t always so easy to find. You may want to contact your local bookstore or library to find out where they are located. If there are none, start one! I’m in a wonderful group- The Shelby Writer’s Group- and together we share, critique and just enjoy the time spent with other writers. I hate to use the word TRIBE as it is so overused for running with like-minded people, but I have to relent and say they are my “Tribe”.

3. Treat yourself! Don’t beat yourself up if ideas don’t come. Use the time to go exploring or share in others creative endeavors. It doesn’t have to be writing. Go to an art show, or a poetry reading. Others’ creativity can excite yours.

4. Start a list of ideas that just seem to pop in your head from the universe. Write them down and use them in those slow turtle times. As you think of one or two, just add to your list.

5. Journal. I keep a journal on my bedside table. I write whatever comes to mind of my day, my issues, etc. Silly ideas and glorious lists of gratitude are written. It’s also fun to look back and see some personal growth as time passes.

6. Use a pen and paper to connect. Remember them? There is nothing like the feeling of the pen in your hand with a new legal pad. The physical connection of the pen in the hand and the paper can speed up the writing process.

7. Just write to write! Throw away the rules you have learned. You aren’t in school anymore and there is no one to correct you. The freedom this brings! There are no A’s or F’s– just pure writing.

8. Just relax, take a deep breath, and walk like the turtle if that helps get to where you need to go. Eventually you will get there with the calmness of a Zen Master and the peace of a turtle.

Any comments from other writer’s I would certainly appreciate.

Yoga, Pain and Growth

This morning I looked  in the mirror and  saw a woman staring back at me. Who is  that woman?,  I thought. Just yesterday I didn’t have this flaw on my arm and on my neck.  Oh my goodness, another surprise that wasn’t there before!  God blesses me these days with all kinds of new things that stare back at me in the mirror. Last week it was what my mother calls a “cherry”, a small mole like thing that appears out of nowhere.  Mine is right on my ribcage where the skin was flawless before.

Life does throw us some curves, but there is no way to handle it other than just smile.  Tonight I went to yoga to regain my youthful flexible body. I used to be able to put my feet on my neck.  I thought,  Surely I could do that again with a bit of practice and fortitude. I need the exercise no matter how long it takes.

“No you can’t”, a faint voice whispered in my ear.” My damn ego-self doesn’t leave me alone at times like this. It’s always yaking and picking on my self-esteem. I took a deep breath and expelled Mr. Ego into the breeze.

With my mat under my arm and a strong sense of self and purpose, I found my way through the maze of hallways to the appointed yoga class. It was dark with just a faint lamp lit in the front of the room. I decided to sit in the back so I could make a quick break of it if my body decided it wasn’t limber enough to even touch my toes.

Laying on my back and hearing the soft voice of the teacher, and the slow tones of the background music, I felt at peace. “Now, if you hurt, don’t do it.” the instructor says as I lay there waiting for the real work to begin.

Ten minutes into it, I was stretching and bending slowly. My ears were stretching too as they tried to take in the step by step instructions being given. Seems my hearing is going as well. Giving up, I opened my eyes to mimic what the others in the class were doing.  “Mam, close your eyes and don’t look at the others. Everyone has their own pace here.”  Oh geeze, I feel like an idiot now that I have been pointed out.  Hopefully everyone had their eyes closed and couldn’t see me squirm.


Twenty minutes and the body was weakening. The ego voice spoke again- this time with much rejoicing and rancor.  I could just picture this little thing jumping up and down in my head laughing and saying in a mantra.  “You can’t do it.  You can’t do it.”

By thirty minutes I was on a roll to prove to myself that I’m not a quitter and no matter what, I would finish this session without quitting or sniveling.  I’ll show myself that I can do this!

Forty minutes, the bones began to make some horrendous sounds as I had to bend in ways that are really unspeakable to talk about. I’m sure if a dirty old man were behind me he might get excited seeing me take my position with my butt in the air, but thankfully there was only the wall staring at me.

Fifty minutes and I looked at the clock. Ten minutes to go. I’m still here and not drooling or broken.  It won’t be long now,  I secretly thought.  How time flies when one is having fun.

One hour! Time to meditate and wind down. Breathe in, breath out.  Aw this is wonderful.  I feel rejuvenated.  Finally it’s time to go.  I pack up, get home, and take a shower.

Who is that woman in the mirror?  I think I know her.  She’s the one who did it!  “Ha ha Mr. Negative Ego.  Shows how much you know.  This woman is great with her wrinkles, dimples, and all of God’s wonderful gifts.  Take that with you!”


This might be a cute story, but the truth is the truth.  Yoga is hard, and so is learning to bend to new ways and new ways of thinking.  Exercise your body, brain, and heart.  The more you do it, the less it hurts.  And be good to yourself!  No one should love you more than you do.

How have you been doing your exercises of life?


The young man walked in torn shattered robes. He wore no sandals or shoes to protect his feet.  The sun blazed on his skin as he walked aimlessly to his next destination.  He didn’t know where he was going, what he was going to do.  So far nothing had worked.  His life was still unfolding in ways he didn’t know or understand.  His robes once bright and colorful now were drained of color. They seemed to lead him on his journey.  They went with him everywhere as he refused to remove them or mend the broken threads.

The young man had visions, nightmares, and so to forget them he drank and drugged to cloud the pictures that came into his mind even in the daylight.  He tired and sat on a hill overlooking the canyon.  There he tried to rest his aching bones, and in the silence he reclaimed memories of his younger years. The abuse  replayed itself over and over in his mind..  He looked at the sun setting and cried tears that dripped down his face on to his robes.  He screamed and yelled hoping the echoes in his mind would be released over the expanse before him.

A whisper came back to him.  “Scissors” the Whisper said.  “It is scissors you need.”

He tried to ignore the Whisper and place it behind him as he turned his back to the canyon.

“Scissors!” the Whisper called- this time in a deeper tone.

“What the f?” the young man thought aloud.

“Take the scissors and cut the robe.”

Now the young man answered the voice that was starting to bellow out of the Whisper.  “What the hell are you talking, man?”

A warm breeze brushed against his face.  “We all wear a robe of textures and patterns. It should keep moving and changing, but in yours I see no movement, no change other than becoming more tattered.  Our robes are our protection, but only if we keep changing the pattern and the pieces over time.  In yours I see nothing new. It’s worn, stagnant with colors that have faded over time.  It is becoming thin, and less protective of you, but yet you do nothing about it.”

The young man looked down at his robe.  He couldn’t change what he had always known.  The Whisper was asking too much.   How could he let go of something that once protected him?  To change it would mean he would have to change himself and who the person he identified himself to be.

Again, the Whisper spoke  to the man.  “The robe no longer fits you.  It is the robe of your past and only a symbol of how you see yourself.  You are not the abuse.  You need not wear it like a shield to keep all good things from your life.  Take the scissors.  Cut out the bad parts and be done with them.  They are of the past and you are of the present. Make your present light.”

The man picked up the scissors.  His hands shook as he began to cut.  He held the tattered piece in his hand. He wiped the tears streaming down his face.

“Now, the Whisper said, ‘ let it fly to the wind.  Release it, and when you do, a new piece will come in its place.  You have only to dream it; see it as a possibility of beauty and happiness ready to piece together your life.”

The young man did as he was told.  As he cut away the old, he felt light, free.

“Now, look at the hem.  Sometimes we trip in its hem and it throws us back, but other times we trip forward.  The trip forward pushes us towards something better or different than we are used to.  You hem is still sewn.  It has stayed in one piece never moving forward or backward.  You can decide what you do with it.  You have the choice.  You are the wearer.  It doesn’t wear you, just like the abuse doesn’t wear you or define you.”

The young man was beginning to understand.  The scissors cut and cut out the old, and were replaced with new textures and colors.  He was ready to move forward.

The Whisper said, “Very good. Remember the past no longer exists.  Only now, the present is where you are.  You have released the past.  Now you can move forward, one minute at a time, one step at a time, one lovely day at a time.  You have choices to make.  Make your choices shine like the sun on your face. Keep changing your robe when life gives you tattered pieces. Don’t hold on it so tight that you can’t trip on the hem.”