Tuesday, November 19, 2013

introspective vs gregarious

I've spent countless hours behind a microphone and a piano with others before me, facing me.  I've spent countless hours quietly writing or trying to write.  I've been the life of the party; I've been a party of one.  I've been introspective in a crowd learning to listen to and share my heart and I've been gregarious in my solitude....wanting to find and feel my tribe.  In either case, the connective energy seems to be the goal; the connection to others, the connection to our journey; our soul; our Self.  The energy created through connection is more satisfying than most anything I can think of as I write.

In quiet ways we seek meaning and understanding; in louder ways we seek those who seem to understand and be interested in our journey.  They're not so distant, introspection and gregariousness. Even the most opinionated persons I know or have known describe their opinion in order to determine if they are in the company of 'their tribe' or not.  Agreement isn't necessarily a tribe-member-qualification; acceptance, however, is.

Just like a group, I do this with myself, internally -the parts of me I accept, and the parts of me that I reject.  Making connections is as much an internal journey as an external journey.  Perhaps introverted vs gregarious should be revised to how much of each ingredient equals connection; what's your ratio?  What's my ratio?  How do I connect with myself and others in a way that creates beautiful energy for everyone?


Friday, November 15, 2013

coffee & questions

Will solitude be quite different in unfamiliar yet beautiful surroundings?  I wonder this as I sit with coffee and pen in hand this morning.  I know solitude; I crave solitude; and I create solitude in chunks of time most days.  There is a lovely stillness and quiet as I work focused only on the task I am involved in.  I am filled and satisfied by creating beauty.  No television, no radio, my quiet only interrupted these days by the heater kicking on to keep me comfortable as I work.  It is enough to explore my thoughts as they occur, wondering to myself the mundane; how does one peel a pumpkin? To the more introspective; will the eventual wearer of this piece of jewelry feel my joy, my love in creating it?

I wonder when I am walking on the Camino, will my internal experiences be similar to this, the mundane and introspective coexisting together in a peaceful harmony, in the call and response of my experience as a human being?  More to the point, will my Self be up to the task of focusing on putting one foot in front of the other for miles each day and still be able to mine through the grit of my heart and soul to find the gemstones?


Monday, November 4, 2013


There is an action thought about but not taken; one then ten, one hundred, then one thousand.  The big life mission continues to evade us because it feels too big; it also causes emotional strife because we know that we aren't doing what we are here on this earth to do.  I'm not sure if there is any human being that isn't touched by this force, this resistance that I think we are seldom really aware of.  The mission can be to touch one other life with one's actions; or it could be to touch countless lives with one's actions.  Collectively we are good at ideas and not as good at action.

Maybe this applies to you; maybe it doesn't.  I know it applies to me in so many arenas.  I am more peaceful and calm and artistically engaged when my house is neat and clean.  Cleaning The Entire  House before I can begin to create art is often intimidating not to mention frustrating.  When I let my frustration grow, I grow still, then don't clean or create.  When I start with one little thing; I'm just going to put these dishes away..... It almost always leads to one more little thing; I'll just sweep the kitchen floor.....before I know it, I have a load in the washing machine, a clean kitchen, and then -soon - I am in my studio -creating.  And then I feel the bliss of who I am.  

One action stirs another.  One melody provokes harmony.  One kind word leads to a kind reaction.  Putting my tennis shoes on starts a walking journey.  Writing a letter to a friend leads to calling another; soon I am connecting and plugging in to the relationships that make my life beautiful.  How many beautiful moments have I shared with my musical friends and family when one person strummed a guitar or sat down at the piano and started a simple song and one by one, others join in with other instruments, percussion, and voice to create something that in the moment is beautiful and complete?  One right action breaks resistance and we get going; we get started; we magically forget about the Entire Thing as something too hard to have or create and begin creating it step by willful step.  The smallest action leads to thousands of actions that build a life and it's mission.  Why is that sometimes so hard to get started on?  We might never understand this resistance, but it can be overcome.

Yesterday I heard the short and powerful phrase: Do The Work.  I've been ruminating on the phrase ever since.  Everything started, completed, created begins and ends this way - with one action.  Action trumps resistance, and we just need to be the tiniest bit stronger than resistance.  Resistance- that powerful force - will always be, and we might need to start over every single day - with one right action.


Wednesday, October 30, 2013


I do not want to get into the habit of using this lovely blogging area as a place in which to vent and bitch on a regular basis - and I apologize for needing to write this particular blog.  It was in the way of all of the other things I am interested in writing about and hopefully my acknowledgement will clear my path, so to speak.  ~ Kerstin

I've found myself agitated and repelled by debate on a national and international level for some time now, often remarking to my husband that I'm ready to sell everything and move to another location, another country, a simpler way of existence.  My rational mind knows that no matter where one stores their material possessions and lays their head at night, there will be issues and conflict; my heart and soul are heavily weighted by right/wrong conversations or even brash arguments all around me regarding all sorts of challenges this nation and our entire earth faces.  Dinner or drinks with friends, liberal, conservative and right winger friends (and all in between) spouting all over facebook - it's everywhere and I'm tired of it.  It opens up the gate for invisible fear over many things far beyond my control and interferes with loving and feeling loved.

When did we forget about nuance?  When did we begin to lose sight of the large and continually shape-shifting area of grey that subtly and gracefully connects rather than polarizes us as humans?  Nuance helps us to bridge some of the gap when we search for answers to great challenges.  It's so disheartening to listen to or read about radical my-way-or-the-highway thinking.  There is good in the worst circumstances; there is bad in the best circumstances; and always there will be.  I believe that in the grey matter lies the provocative path to compassion, to understanding, to harmony and finding humility and compromise.

On a personal level, I see myself withdrawing from some topics even with people very close to me on the basis of this.  No nuance = little or no compassion.  No nuance = no attempt at understanding.  No nuance = I'm not very interested. And this is the saddest part.  It creates an additional divide; a personal as well as ideological divide.  Why would I want to spend time debating anything in which my fellow debater sees no evidence of grey matter?  Because then it not a conversation in which each party both seeks and imparts greater understanding; it's a lowly and uninteresting who wins and who loses situation.  It is no longer the subject matter only - but a study in who is the more gifted debater; therefore the subject matter falls by the wayside; an opportunity to learn and grow forfeited for a very short lasting feeling of being 'right'.

Health care, national debt, political party lines, who should resign, be impeached, Fukushima, radical environmental concerns, GMOs, climate change, big, small, short and long wars..... AHHHHHH!!! I want to know how your day was - what touched your heart, what you learned about yourself, how you made even the tiniest wrong right, what you did after you made a mistake to correct it, how you did the right thing even when it was the hard road, what made you laugh, what brought a tear to your eyes....I want to know you better than your ideology.  Together, lets explore the mysteries of faith and spirituality, the beauty of this earth, the never ending capacity of Love, the endless ways in which we can be of service to each other.  Each of these possesses great nuance and mystery - that, dear reader, is very interesting to me.

Yes, I know, there are some big things that really need to be fixed - and in my humble opinion it'll take a long time to fix them if we continue to write this evolving story only in black and white - we really need mystery and the grey expanse of nuance to find our way to the creative kind of thinking that begins to solve big challenges.


Wednesday, October 23, 2013


Conflict is ubiquitous in our lives.  Big ways and small ways, short ways and long ways, it's a constant hum in the space of human existence.  Should I sleep a little longer; I'll be late.  I should say I'm sorry; I'm still mad.  I want another glass of wine; I might have a headache in the morning.  Too many calories; I really want that dessert.  I want to be friends again; my feelings are still hurt.  It goes on in every area of life.

I wrote and sent a letter to a woman I've been estranged from for several years ago today.  I wanted to say 'sent a letter to a friend' in my last sentence, yet I don't know if that is true today.  I still have a refrigerator magnet stuck to the door that she gave to me several years ago that says, " you'll always be my friend, I know all of your secrets".  I don't know why we fell away from each other- but I will confess that she was a package deal, and I suffered the other component of the package - never having the cajones to ask for precisely what I wanted; just time with her.  So, I guess it was my decision to stray from caring for that relationship the way a person needs to in order to keep a friendship.  I'm nervously hoping that we might reconnect, and nervously wondering how I will handle the 'package' if that happens.  Conflict.

This past weekend, wrapped in the warm embrace of long friendship, at the beach and away from day-to-day I found myself considering straying from my goal of my Camino next summer.  Not straying forever, just for a little bit - perhaps altering my plans to accommodate a getaway with a group of beautiful women that I've grown up with who will all turn 50 next year.  Today I finished reading 'To The Field of Stars' by Kevin A. Codd; a memoir of a priest's camino.  I cried through the last few pages, and again, could - in detail - see myself walking the pilgrimage.  Conflict.

The importance to me of a spiritual pilgrimage; self examination, tears, joy, awakening, enlightenment and reflection will never have a 'right' time.  Religion has been a second thought for a lot of my adult life -but spirituality has not. It continues to move closer and closer to the prominent thought, the prominent path, and I feel very little conflict in the journey of seeking humility, grace, understanding, peace, compassion, love and joy. No conflict.

I'm not 'un-conflicted' by writing tonight.  I'm not sure what my ultimate search is for as I write about conflict.  I do feel a bit more peace through examining why I am where am tonight.

God bless everyone, no exceptions.

Monday, September 30, 2013


It's been a little bit since I've written a post; I've spent the better part of the last two weeks preparing for this past weekend.  I sold my jewelry in a local festival the past two days, and by my measurements, I was successful.  I thoroughly enjoyed myself and finished up with a tidy profit.  I had an experience that eclipses that success though, and that is what I want to record for memory and share with you.

Yesterday early on, I sipped on my coffee and spilled a big spot smack in the middle of the bust of my white, white shirt.  I tried to ignore it because there wasn't much I could do about it, but it bugged and bothered me.  I put my wrap on and tried to cover it; that worked but it was a bit too warm for long sleeves.....then along came a customer with a tee shirt draped over her arm.  My helper and friend Carol asked her where she got the shirt and whether or not they were giving them away and explained by pointing at me and my shirt why she was asking and without hesitation the woman handed me her shirt, said she would get another one and walked away.

I quickly put the new shirt on over mine, and then as only a woman can, shimmied out of the one underneath and pushed it down over my body and legs; voila! Brand new!  After a moment I saw the woman walking with a new shirt draped over her arm but she was across the park, and I took off running after her before I lost her in the sea of festival-goers.  When I caught up with her, I touched her on the arm, gave her a hug and thanked her again for her kindness.  Then I invited her back to my booth, telling her that I wanted her to choose something that would make her feel as happy as she made me feel.  We walked back to my booth together; me smiling, and her with a tear sliding down a cheek.

The tears continued as she carefully chose a bracelet that matched her outfit and her style and Carol helped her to remove the tag and put it on.  Then we hugged each other again; two strangers united in kindness, and as we hugged each other she said in my ear, "God bless you".  Indeed.  He blessed both of us.


Wednesday, September 18, 2013


I'm gonna admit it, I make the mistake of looking for validation from others over and over again.  In their eyes I want to be smart, capable, lovable, spiritual, kind....the list goes on and on.  Each and every time I am aware I am doing that I have to secretly disqualify myself; because no matter what another says, I have an argument for them.  After all, I know everything that goes on inside of this skin! Sounds irrational, I know, but leads me to my little exploration this evening.

Every time I've given a performance I've been the harshest critic while accepting external compliments.  When I've given an exceptional performance, given my all, been drunk on the gift of flow from the Universe, I know it.  I know it as I am doing it, not before or after.  It is the gift of being entirely present and authentic, and that is the most incredible kind of validation there is.

A couple of weeks ago I submitted a portfolio for consideration to be accepted (or not) as an Arts & Crafts Artist vendor in a local, annual festival.  It's the largest festival I've submitted to, and only the second one I've submitted to.  I'm still a rookie is what I'm saying.  I've been busy becoming a jewelry artist for several years now, just like I did long ago as a musician.  I was hopeful, but willing to accept that my work can't yet compete in such an arena.

Yesterday, I skipped joyfully from the mailbox to my door, acceptance letter in hand!  That, my friends, is validation.  I am who I say I am, not who I hope someone else says I am. And that matters so much.  


Monday, September 16, 2013

design flaw

Recently my daughter suggested to me that I should try to develop the habit of waking to write a note in order to recall my dreams the next morning.  I've tried to do it, but more often than not I struggle to get my eyes open, roll over to the bedside table, put my glasses on and capture the essence of my dream-thought.  Last night I managed to take those steps and capture a bit of what my sleeping-self was thinking about.

My 3am note to myself begins with 'design problem'.  I guess we must all work a little while dreaming.  The issue as I recall it now was multi-dimensional; my note continues, 'forgetting to anticipate inner diameter after beads are added'.  Clearly I was working out a design for a piece of jewelry when using a different size bead than my original design called for, but there is more.  I remember feeling this deep sense of knowing something.

The idea that something on the inside changes when we change something on the outside - and that we have the ability to anticipate that change seems to be the more subtle and deeper message.  So often we are shaken by a design flaw in ourselves or in our relationships with others and without even thinking, we do everything we can to maintain things just as they appear to be on the outside because we have such a strong tendency to resist change.  But without anticipating changes, the result is that it might not fit well.

Life, like a simple piece of jewelry, is so malleable when we work through a design challenge while its a work in progress.  Or, we can keep it up only to have to take it apart and start over.


Saturday, September 14, 2013

word play

When light settles softly on my face, the visual signs of years are erased.  The spirit of who I have become; apparent, the celebration of life; inherent.

I was playing with this idea, these words as I fell asleep last night.  I didn't know if the idea would hang around until morning but it obviously did.  Sometimes I am critical of my skin.  This skin that has held me together for so many years. And if I am critical of my skin, I am critical of my Self.  I have little age spots, scars, crows feet at my eyes, tiny crevices at my lips; and I have moments that I don't want to accept any of it.  Last night, I took my glasses off before I brushed my teeth and my reflection without my vision corrected looked a bit softer, a bit more youthful.  And as I fell to sleep, I played with this idea of how I see myself with love versus how I see myself with a critical eye.

As it is with the external, so it is with the internal.  Yet, that experience seems a bit upside down.  Where once I struggled to be still with my soul- always had to write a song or journal or something to open the cage and release somehow - I am more able to be still; just be; accept.  (Although I will say for the record that I recognize that my blogging is a form of release.).  With each blessed year I am of this earth as this configuration of flesh and spirit, my internal criticism of my thoughts diminishes.  I am more curious, more open, more loving to me.

When light settles softly on my face, the visual signs of years are erased.  The spirit of who I have become; apparent, the celebration of life; inherent.


Monday, September 9, 2013

safety zone

What you allow is what will continue.

This is my mantra for the day for good and for not so good.  My heart's meditation.  It's my contemplation of my experiences and my relationships.  It's short, to the point, and easy to repeat over and over silently while I go about the business of preparing to give a workshop tonight.  It's my safety statement in Kerstin's Life, Inc. today.

What you allow is what will continue.


Sunday, September 8, 2013

eye on the prize

Manifesting one's destiny is a tall order.  The constant challenge of removing obstacles from the path can be distraction enough to temporarily forget the bigger picture.  For some, it's enough to lose sight of goals completely.  How do we maintain that which tethers us to our heart's desire and the gifts we were born to share?

I've been lead to this thought process by a recent experience; a hiccup really; but a provocative hiccup.  It was an encounter by choice that turned out to be nothing like what I expected.  I welcomed another human being into my life on the grounds that it seemed like we were becoming friends only to find that their goal was to get to another person through my connection and nearness physically to this other person.  I had to quickly examine my personal goals in order to navigate the situation; mostly what I expect of myself and the gift of being able to listen closely with love in my heart.  Once I re-employed my goals I was able to care for this person in spite of their disregard for who I am.  What an empowering lesson for me.

I could've easily decided to be angry and upset and I could've easily justified those emotions; I'm sure there are those who would disagree with my choices in the end completely.  At the end of each and every day it's up to us to ask ourselves if we were who we want to be in the course of our interactions with others whether or not they behaved the way we wanted them to.  Most days we come across those challenges because human beings are unpredictable.  Whether or not I should've remained kind to the person I wrote of above because of their actions isn't the debate for me, whether or not I remained kind is a decision because of who I think I am.  Remaining tethered to my personal picture of who I am is keeping my eye on the prize; I am kind, therefore I practice kindness.

What about my other goals?  At this point I'm happy to share that I am dedicated to my walking training and adding in a bit of yoga and swimming laps.  I've started beginning Spanish, and am still developing the daily habit of taking my lesson.  I'm reaching past my perceived limits physically and emotionally, and I'm finding that there is is more there.  The prize is mostly internal (but my legs are looking a bit better!); the prize is knowing deeply that I am who I think I am even when a challenge threatens to unravel my reality.  I've said this in previous posts, and it's worth repeating for myself after another's attempt to take advantage of me; I am enough.  Kindness is not a weakness, it's a vehicle to remain grounded in any of life's little storms.


Tuesday, September 3, 2013


For a long period of my life I believed I knew and understood what I needed to know and understand.  I was the proverbial child longing to grow up, rushing the process, clumsily breaking rules, clearly trying to establish for myself and those around me who I was.  Fierce independence holds a price; to maintain it you must never see things differently for an alternate view either subtlely and gently loosens your attachments to your beliefs or shakes them loose with force.

A struggle developed early each Sunday morning when I was a child; there were clothes one wore to church and clothes one didn't wear to church.  To be a believer, one must conform.  I didn't like dresses then, and now nearly fifty years old, I still don't really care for them.  Shoes with a heel?  Forget it.  It's interesting that the struggle was seldom about whether or not I wanted to go to church, it was about what I could or couldn't wear to church.  My beliefs about attending church became so negative; in my young mind it was nearly impossible to reconcile the absurdity of clothing being a requirement of Christian status.  I still wrestle with theology that clearly places people either inside of the circle of acceptance or outside of the circle of acceptance; my belief is better than your belief.  My clothes are better than your clothes.  The attachment to my beliefs in this regard held me hostage to their power for such a long time; I wasn't a good enough believer, therefore I couldn't be a believer publicly at least.

The subtle, soothing all-loving power of The One has consoled me through the years inspite of my road blocking attachments.  I know with unshakeable faith that I am a child of God.  I've accepted the idea that I may have the wrong clothes on upon entering the pearly gates.  I'll handle it then.

The whole church-Christian status created a somewhat one dimensional viewpoint for me as far as whether or not I was an accepted part of the extended family clan.  Clearly I lived my life differently and I felt the barriers that I created for myself.  With my dad's recent health status he has taken to writing a daily email that is sent to our immediate family and grown children as well as his brothers and sister.  As I read replies to him from an aunt and uncles I hardly know my heart softens in love and acceptance and I feel years of attachments to some of my beliefs slipping away.  What a joy it is to let attachments go when they no longer serve a belief!

This post could go on for quite some time this morning as I reflect on other attachments to beliefs that may be more of an invisible fence for the safety of my "being right" than beliefs that serve me well presently.  I'm going to continue my reflections in private for now.  God bless everyone, no exceptions.


Wednesday, August 28, 2013


This noon, a friend and I learned as we were finishing our lunch that another group of diners had paid our check for us.  Doesn't that just make you smile?  I've thought about it a few times since and I keep returning not to the fact that lunch was free today, rather, to the generosity of spirit that made a stranger decide to do something quite unexpected and nice for another human being.

As we learned our fortune, I smiled at my friend and said, "we get to pay it forward another day!"  It makes me smile even more anticipating that I can make another human being feel the way I've felt today.

As it turns out, there was business attached to my lunch.  We were discussing ways that I could help by volunteering to do some writing for the non profit charitable organization she works for. We were discussing how magical it is when a group of like minded people get together to create good for their community, we were discussing giving.  And look what the Universe provided -a reason to be even more excited about and grateful for generosity of spirit.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

tiny meditations

Friday afternoon, five-ish, and I am gripping the handle of my Walmart shopping cart, standing in a place that I hope is out of the way, silently but ferociously asking the Universe for loving patience to undo the shitty negative attitude that has formed not only in my mind but was creeping into my whole presence.  People had almost run me over with their carts full of junk food and soda, toddlers had assaulted my ears with incessant and shrieking complaining about what they wanted and were not getting, mothers responding to children with barely controlled mania,  all around me a microcosm of the world in which we live; messy, needy and loud.  Before stopping for this tiny meditation, my inner voice was mean, rotten, impatient and judgemental.

While I was imploring asking the Universe to step in, I heard a little 'ding' and looked at my smartphone.... Could this be the Universe responding?  I looked at the message from a friend I had seen the night before (along with his wife), and I read, "We have determined that you are probably one of the sweetest human beings we know".  I replied, "nuh-uh".  I was further from sweet than a cloud is to the earth in this moment.   Then I sent another message, "I had stopped to ask the Universe for a less shitty attitude when I got your note. lol".  His reply, "Good.  Get over it."  (If you ever read my blog, Roy, Thanks, Doc.)

This tiny exchange halted my momentum and underlined my need for Universal intervention. It also proved that a negative attitude isn't me, its my choice.  Stop.  Refocus.  Smile.  Remember the power of tiny meditations where ever I find myself; take back my power to be positive; take back my power to love others even in their unflattering moments.  Remember The Way and the pilgrims path no matter where my feet are planted.


Monday, August 19, 2013


An unfamiliar noise in the night, an argument with a loved one, an assignment or task you know will be late, a storm on the horizon.... These, to me are manageable kinds of fears.  There is the element of the unknown creating the fear yet nothing so great that your breath remains shallow or chill-bumps don't fade.  This morning I wake; and it's day five of my dad hospitalized and what I knew from yesterday is that rather than improving, he was moved to ICU. I'm greater than one thousand miles away physically, I don't know how he is doing and this is a different kind of fear.

My "what ifs" this morning are profound and disturbing.  Do the ones in my life whom I love with a fierceness really know that?  Have I said it?  Have I shown it?  Am I a decent human being?  My reflection is as somber as the rain that falls as I write.  And my fear sits stoically with me asking not if I am loved enough, but have I loved enough.


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Love Letter

Do you ever go to your mailbox, not thinking of a thing, and find a treasure?  A beautifully hand-addressed note card with the return address naming one you love dearly?  One which you set on the table, unopened, while you prepare a cup of coffee and patiently create a special moment in which to sit down, open, and extract said letter?

I got a love-letter today in my mailbox.  And I set it on the table, unopened, while I made myself a cup of coffee.  I sat down with said cup of coffee, carefully opened the envelope and began to read.  Handwritten and filled to the very edge were the thoughts of my beautiful daughter who lives thousands of miles away from me - but this afternoon she was right here with me, encouraging me as I prepare for my camino.  My eyes welled, and I blinked away tears hot and brimming with love every now and then so that I could continue reading to the end.  I found that I wanted to sit quietly with her thoughts and words long after I finished reading - that I might absorb each and every drop of what she shared with me.

She has done an expedition in the Talkeetna Mountains, she has taught English in a small village high in the mountains of Ecuador, she has traveled with backpack across Spain, and I am like an infant when it comes to what I am preparing to do.  Her encouragement means more than a million guide books - for the journey is inside more than outside.

She reminded me of something I wrote last year -

Step forward.
Happy for sunshine brightening my face

Security; your presence opens my heart.

And the island I have been
disintegrates with messy tears
and words
that I have held in.



Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Who is the problem?

The past several days I've found myself going back to a tiny little incident in which I was told a little white lie by a friend.  That's it.  We all tell those.  I happened to be aware of the tiny white lie because of my with-my-own-eyes saw that what I was told wasn't true.  Rather than discussing the fact that I've been guilty of this many times in many tiny ways; I just want to say that I was offended, my feelings got hurt, and I thought about trust and my own judgement about what kind of friends I choose to have.

Today the universe got involved with my emotional exploration and profound discovery that I, am, in fact, the problem.  These are the kinds of things I expected to think about on my long journey across Spain next year, but I am finding that the more I pay attention, the more the muses feed me.  I came across a blog this afternoon, and in my curiosity I explored it a little.  I read, "The Other Person Is Never The Problem."   Whoa.  It's not something I was entirely unaware of, but I obviously needed a refresher.  It's how I react that is the problem if I react in a poor-me or combative or correcting or offended or angry or disappointed or fill-the-blank-of -negativity..... kind of way.

What a tremendous reminder to read and think about the fact that the 'other' person is just as prone to be clumsy, self centered, and as unimaginative as I can be.  What a reminder to suspend judgement for a moment, and really care about the 'other' person's concerns, fears, joy, secrets, shame....and react with a little bit of compassion for whatever motivated their words or behavior.  I guess what happens if I don't examine it is that I have some sort of an idea of how the other person should be and that idea is in conflict with my reality because they are being the way they are being.  So, what's wrong is that I am not that person, therefore unable to change it, and completely responsible for my bad reaction if that happens.

Wow.  The journey is always unfolding, and I'll be checking myself a little more closely in the little white lie department, heh.


Tuesday, July 23, 2013


I awoke at first light this morning; my mind had somehow slipped into gear before my other sleep-drugged senses and started the process of becoming conscious.  There is that space if I am aware (and I suppose when I'm not aware) that holds profound thoughts and questions.  Lying in bed this morning my thought was 'what if I've gone through all of the things that I'm expecting to find on the Camino de Santiago before I even get there' and therefore it's not necessary?  Will I walk the 500 miles anyhow?  Will there be more to learn?

I find that I become aware of moments and flashes of insight at the strangest times, doing an activity that is not remotely attached to deep thinking per se, yet I suppose each moment is a moment of life and therefore equally as apt to provide.  It's of note to me that where some whom I love feel that they are closer to God when they are in a building designated as a Church; I willfully sit with God for a moment each morning on my front porch and I feel as if I am sitting with a dear, funny and wise friend - but it wasn't always that way.  We find what we expect to find where we expect to find it, yet years ago I found God quite unexpectedly here on my porch where I am writing this morning and am delighted to know that He sits with me each morning.  I have learned to expect my morning conversations with God; I expect that God will walk with me across Spain too.

As I prepare my body and mind for my pilgrimage I sometimes feel the sharp stab of fear, that pointed blade that catches my breath and briefly alters my heartbeat.  Avoiding fear is as natural as breathing for a human being.  My hope as I walk is that I will come to know some of that fear as places deep inside of me that once explored will no longer hold me hostage to their mysterious presence.  I expect to find that I am capable of loving myself in whole just as I am able to love a dear friend.  I will find that clumsiness is endearing, gracefulness is inspiring, frankness is refreshing, and wandering is not a thing to judge.  We fear we are not good enough; yet I expect to find enough.


I awoke pre-dawn this morning and realized that I was dreaming of walking.  I recalled my daughter telling me with awe some years ago that she had dreamt in Spanish the night before.   The realization that you are becoming fully immersed in something new can certainly occur in the dream world.  Waking from a dream with a contented feeling seems to be a sign that any fear or reservation attached to the dream's topic is removed.

I delayed getting out of bed for a bit, and instead imagined myself waking in a Refugio along The Way, rolling out of bed, putting my socks and hiking boots on, and finally putting my mochilla on my back and heading out to walk to the next Refugio.  Then I imagined stopping after awhile for cafe con leche and a tortilla breakfast.  Now that I am up, with a cup of steaming, wonderful coffee in hand I can imagine stopping for the day, unlacing my boots, wiggling my toes and quietly rejoicing the gifts of physical ability, mental confidence, and depth of spirit.

I am grateful this morning for starting this day with peace, joy, and dreams that lead to The Way.


Tuesday, July 2, 2013


Attitude.  Desire.  Curiosity.  Spirituality.  Quiet.  Stillness.  Challenge.  Faith.  Belief.  Limitations.
There are many reasons I am inspired to walk The Way next year.  I can't put my finger on just one reason, yet pushing past my own perceived limitations seems to encompass just about all of my reasons.

Some beliefs serve us well; they provide a compass for living a 'good' life.  Many come from childhood and guide us in our interactions with others and with ourselves helping to navigate our emotional lives.  The Golden Rule, The Pledge of Allegiance, The Lord's Prayer all come immediately to mind as shapers of some of my core beliefs.  With careful awareness and examination there are other more sinister beliefs carried from a young age that are not useful and down right debilitating if not weeded out as I grow.  I fought the sensation of belief that my parents weren't delighted that I decided to work as a musician - one of my primary sources of knowing who I was and of validation as a human - and that belief simply wasn't true.  What other beliefs will I come to be aware of as I walk that are either very valuable or not useful?  My hope is that I will learn to let go of what's not necessary and find room for those beliefs that are life-affirming.

Spirituality vs Religion.  I have always held a deep and profound 'knowing' of God - and I'm using the Christian Name here, knowing full well that there are many other names for the One.  So walking The Way is not an attempt on my part to find The One; yet I will walk with an open heart so that I may find an even deeper sense of profound Love.  I know that can be found in religion even as I reject on principal some organized religious practices.  I look forward to meditation in beautiful cathedrals and monasteries along The Way whether or not I can understand the language.  I'm curious to see how my heart reacts.

Quiet Stillness.  I think this is more of an internal preparation although even as I write this post on my front porch this morning in 'quiet', I am aware of the sound of the wind, birds, cicadas, traffic in the distance, the squeak of the porch fan and the setting down of my coffee cup.  I expect while on The Way I will more easily grasp the stillness that is a grounding force for my soul, find the questions I most need to ask myself; where have I been, where am I now, and where am I going, and in the stillness perhaps I will more readily hear the answers to some of those questions.

Challenge & Attitude.  Next year I will be fifty years on the planet, and I've had just as many challenges as the next guy.  I've approached some of them with the attitude that I was fully capable and others not as much.  Walking The Way will be a challenge physically, mentally and emotionally with my attitude forecasting the outcome.  It's a open invitation to myself to live the kind of life I want to live no matter my age or circumstance.

Finally then Curiosity.  What drives people from all over the world, including myself to walk mile after mile for days and weeks to the burial place of St. James the Apostle?  I suspect I'll find provocative answers along The Way.

Monday, July 1, 2013


I remember particularly in high school hearing my name called on a roll, and responding either 'here' or 'present'.   How many of those hundreds of times was I present, engaged, eager and fully in the moment and how many times did I answer appropriately when I was somewhere else entirely in my mind?  I suspect that the ratio might not be anywhere near 50/50 let alone 80/20 or better.  I don't think I even was aware of being present or not.  I had one block of time that I was fully engaged each day, and it was in concert choir.  I lived for it in relationship to school; otherwise it was friendships and boys or boys and friendships.

And so it was with the next twenty something years; present in relationship to music, boys (my husband) and being a mother.  I'm fortunate in that part of my life's highlight reel is music and that is what I got to do for a living for 25 years so I was present in my work.  In special moments in my work, I was transcended with joy - so fully in the moment that I was all flow and no thought and for that I am grateful.  I know what present is, I know what present means, and I know when it's missing.

Enter Five Hundred Miles.  For the past three or four years, music performance has quietly faded from my regular experience, and it's been by choice.   At some point I was no longer willing to have a completely opposite schedule from my husband's, and I scheduled less and less shows until in 2012, I played exactly two shows in 365 days.  What brought me fully to the moment was no longer there, and I suffered.  I floundered, I hid from friendships so I could hide from myself. I disconnected enough that my inner voice, my heart's soundtrack became so faint that at times I didn't even hear it.  And one day I became aware of a five hundred mile pilgrimage, a walk with one's soul, and my heart began to hum again a little.  I am going to walk the Camino de Santiago in a little over ten months from now, and again I hear music.  I am remembering how it feels to be present.