Change Is In The Air


It’s September, that time of year when I breathe deeply and am especially happy that the days ahead will be cooler. The dog wood trees are the first to begin turning their foliage from a verdant green to a rusty red and their berries are ready for picking by hungry birds.

Today when I took my morning walk a strong breeze out of the north began shaking tree limbs and old, dried out yellow leaves at the end of their life span fell all around me.  It was lovely.

Here is a poem I wrote a while back to to honor this special month.


That yellow bus is back
all shiny and clean
beeping ‘round the circle
every morning at eight
then again in afternoon
Monday through Friday

I recall chalk dust days
blue gingham stained with chocolate
climbing trees and jump rope
books whispering dreams

Hours slip away
dropped stitches
in a Christmas sweater
I’ve been knitting for years
return to every fall
rows of raveled days
purled again to perfection



Time Play, Act III

clockface2Like last week’s post, this is another I wrote in 2006. My mother had been diagnosed with stage four lung cancer a year earlier. She spent most of her time denying she was nearing the end of her life. My head was filled with thoughts of aging and mortality, both Mom’s and my own. The poem below slipped out onto paper in response to a prompt on a poetry site I was following at the time.

My attitude toward aging and death has changed since then. I love being in my seventies. For the most part it is a very comfortable and peaceful time. I’ve enjoyed being able to slow down, to do more of what I really want to do, and taking all the time in the world to do it. I see things very differently now. Wisdom has overshadowed my ignorance and in many ways I’m more patient with myself and others, as well.

It’s fascinating to me that my fears of aging and death no longer haunt me as they once did. Back then I wanted time to pass quickly so that I could get on with my life. Since then I have developed a great appreciation for this moment … right now … the in breath … the out breath … even if what is happening isn’t the most pleasant thing in world. By allowing myself to live with what is before me, the sting of life is not as severe, and I see things more clearly.

This is what I wrote on August 24, 2006.

Time has never been my best friend. There is never enough or there is too much. I look for quality time, end up with no time. At times I’ve been able to stretch time, but that skill is elusive. It’s either rush, rush, rush, or are we there yet? I waste time, I buy time. I’ve even killed time. Time is a mystery. I’ve written a notebook full of poems about it. I don’t know any more about it now, than I did before I took the time for this exploration.

Time Play, Act III

Instead of rising the curtain falls
on a revolving stage numerals tick
tossing seconds back and forth
the orchestra marks each hour
with silver chimes

In the fly-space heavenly doors
swing open spilling light
revealing angels robed in red
feathered wings propel
cogged wheels around the clock

Beyond the flicker of footlights
tiers of aging faces line the dark
fear the cuckoo’s wooden call
a chorus of fingers points to the dial
weeping candles hail the fractured moon

There is one part of the aging process that is not at all pleasant and that is the loss of friends.  In the last 24 hours one has passed away and another is in the ICU at a nearby hospital.  My prayers reach out to both of them and their families.

What’s Happened To Time?


November 1, 2015

After the neighborhood Halloween parade and hoards of imaginatively costumed kids coming to the door for treats last night, I set the clock back an hour, did some reading, and went to bed. This morning I woke to rain and gray clouds lit by the sun lost somewhere in the ether. Tonight it will be dark when I cook dinner and I’ll be grumpy because I hate it when the time changes.

Wouldn’t it be better to just get used to being on one time cycle instead if changing it every spring and fall? Well maybe. But who knows. We’ll never get a chance to figure it out.

On one level, I’ve been longing for this fall-behind-time because it’s been dark at 6:15 AM which is when I prefer to rise and shine. I’m a morning person and like to have all my heavy lifting and creative work done by early afternoon. But if it’s dark when the alarm goes off, the plan falls apart and I’m running late for my very important dates.

At almost seventy-three years old I lag a bit in the late afternoon. At that time of day, I prefer to read or visit with friends. When I’m way behind, which seems to be a  constant these days, I can’t necessarily do that. But I keep on keeping as best I can.

With darkness encroaching an hour earlier this evening, I’ll have the opposite problem. I’ll want to close the blinds and snuggle in my bed at 8:00 PM. If I do that I’ll  miss going to the movies and other fun things which  just get started at that time. Because I don’t like missing out, I’ll go out anyway. But I’ll be yawning all the way and occasionally my head will nod off. I might even let out a snort when I can’t keep my eyes open any longer.

Other people my age complain about the the lack of time and how much longer it takes to get things done when our hair grays. What we want is more time.  We’ve got bucket lists of things we want to do. I’ve always wanted to go to Mongolia and visit Africa again. But when I think about the hours it will take to get to those places while being stuck in a narrow seat with little to no leg room, I have second thoughts. I’m not sure I’d be able to get my legs to work after a long flight like that.

Perhaps I should trade in that old list for one that has shorter trips involved, like seeing more of my own country, while visiting old friends who are scattered from one end to the other. On the top of that new list, I’ll get less specific and include things like have fun, laugh a lot, and be grateful for every moment, regardless of where I happen to be.

I’ve made huge strides this past year in simply slowing down and allowing myself space to breathe and stretch my mind. I’m taking weekends and most evenings off from work. Sunday brunch followed by a movie is a wonderful treat, as is taking long walks, then putting my feet up and catching up some of our favorite tv shows we record.


Time management has always been an issue for me. The time I gain by letting a few old interests go quickly fills with new things and I’m back at square one.  But I shouldn’t complain.  I’m never bored and I’m grateful for all of the choices I have.

Do you have enough time to do all that you want and need to do?

Being Mindful In A Mindless World

IMG_0027In this age of multitasking and always needing to be first in line, I work at keeping myself from getting involved in doing too many things and out of the general hubbub around me. I want to live in the moment. Mindful of the way traffic is flowing. That there is someone tailgating me and that I need to be careful. I want to notice all of the colors the sky takes on at sunset. And yes, I even want to experience the sadness I feel about losing a friend or the pain I feel in my hip. Being mindful is about being awake and aware of where you are, how you feel, and what is happening around you. It’s about being present in the moment, in relationship, and with the world around you.

It’s taken me a long time to figure out what mindfulness is all about. I first heard the the term years ago when I started going to the local Insight Meditation Community meetings on Tuesday nights to meditate with a large group of other seekers and to hear dharma talks espousing the teachings of the Buddha. I thought that during meditation you are supposed to empty your mind completely and experience some altered state of being. I thought, “Wow, that will surely make my life happier and I won’t have to suffer anymore.”

Imagine my disappointment when I found that wasn’t going to happen. I tried over and over again to concentrate on my breath, only to find myself planning tomorrow night’s dinner or badmouthing the lady who pushed herself ahead of me in line at the grocery store today, resulting in my dropping everything I was carrying and breaking the eggs I needed. But with time and a lot of missteps, I realized that everyone else in the meditation group struggled with the same thing.  I learned that meditation was not only about relaxing and bringing a peaceful vibe to the day or evening. It’s about learning to understand how our minds work and what pulls them away from the moment of quiet and peace we are currently trying to experience.

There I was trying to empty my mind while my mind insisted on being full of other stuff that seemed to be more important than what I was currently trying to do. Have you and your mate ever gone out to dinner and spent a good part of the time checking your email on your iPhone instead of enjoying each other’s company? Have you ever been driving your car lost in thought, suddenly discovering you’ve been unconscious for the past five minutes and didn’t remember to turn right after the last traffic light?  It’s what happens when we don’t give ourselves enough time and space to breathe deeply and be with ourselves in the moment.

As I sit here at my keyboard I’m aware of the words forming on the screen as I dictate to my fingers.  I’m aware that I’m writing about something that is important to me and want to share my thoughts. I notice that sometimes the words I find on the screen aren’t the best ones I could choose. I go back and change them.

I notice that my eyes are dry and tired. I close them and stop typing. I hear a robin and a several other birds practicing their spring mating songs just outside the window and the hum of the heater warming the room. I notice my back feeling stiff and my need to get up and do a few minutes of stretching before getting back to work. When I’m mindful of what my body needs I can help it feel better and my writing will be easier and better.

The problem is I easily get distracted. As I write I find myself keeping one eye on the clock, knowing I have only a few more minutes to finish this post. I’m going to be late getting to my Pilates class if I don’t hurry up. Before I leave I need to put the dogs out, check the washing machine, and find the list of groceries I need to get after class. My writing is no longer making sense and I’m just wanting to finish it.  All that leads to a host of other possibilities: like speeding, running a red light, getting a traffic ticket, or causing an accident. I stop and ask myself, “Is it worth it?”

For me the secret of being as mindful as possible is to slow down and give myself the time and space to practice being in the moment. Instead of filling my plate with too many things for me to handle at one time, I slow down and take my time choosing one thing to do. I decide I’ll finish this post later. Otherwise, I’ll become as mindless as the next person, charging down the highway trying to keep up to speed with the world around me.  I’d rather pay attention and do one thing well, than do two or three things and only do a half-assed job at any of them.

Hope you’re enjoying these wonderful spring days.  To my family and friends in New England, I’ll be thinking of you over the next few days.  I hear you’ll be getting yet another snowstorm.  I’m extremely grateful to be here in Virginia.

Kickin’ Back

Snow day, January 2012.

Snow day, January 2012.

Excuse me while I take some time off from my blog.  Even though it hasn’t snowed much here this winter, this past January has been the coldest on record in twenty years.  I like to lay low in the winter, taking my time with everything … napping, cooking and enjoying soups, stews and braises.  There hasn’t been time for any of that this past month with the renovations we’ve undergone, so I’m hearby declaring the next week my hibernation week.  It can snow or do whatever it wants.  I’m staying put. I’ll cook a pot roast, and put away all the kitchen things that have been packed away in boxes over the past month. I can’t wait to see all my cookbooks lined up on the shelves that we had especially built just for them.  I’m also rearranging furniture all over the house and setting myself up for the newness of spring’s arrival next month.

I’ll be back next week with something useful or knowledgable to tell you about … or not.  In the meantime go sledding, bake cookies, read a good book, or clean out a closet. Let’s simply the enjoy the next week as it is … rain, sleet, snow, or sun.  It’s good for our health to just slow down and breathe deeply.