Category Archives: Writings

What Needs Pruning in your Life?

Every year at this time, the vineyards call our attention. My husband, Dan and I live on an acre of land and tend to 600 vines in Sonoma. Come the break of Spring, the vineyards ask to be freed of their dead weight, scraggly wintry branches they’ve been holding up for far too long. The vines need room for the sun and time to breathe before the birth of little pink bud-babies.

After months of rain, the dormant vines received their wish yesterday. A group of hired-hands came together to alleviate the vineyards from their weighted past. With clippers, they made space for possibility, vast and beautiful as the Sonoma sky.

cropped-sky-photo.jpg

Photo Credit: Deborah Parrish Photography

I soak in the beauty of scarcity that only comes at the tail end of winter. I feel lighter now, knowing the heavy work is done. As I stare out my living room window, the vineyard landscape is breathtaking: open and stark. I am reminded that I too, need to prune the things in my life that no longer serve me, so I can make room for more life-affirming, joyful acts.

feb-2017-013

Being a lover-of-lists, here’s what I am pruning out of my cluttered life to make way for more open, life-sustaining fulfillment, like candles. Heart candles!

Here’s my list:

  1. Less Whining = More wine! More friends and more wine.
  2. Less News and Social Media = More reading, writing, listening to music.
  3. Less Talking = More Prayer, meditation, and silent retreats.
  4. Less Clutter = More sanity!
  5. Less procrastination = More ‘Be Here Now’ activity.
  6. Less seriousness = More laughter!
  7. Less planning = More trust to let the day unfold.
  8. Less pressure = Enough with the should have, could have, would have thinking!

As the old saying goes, “Less is More.” The recipe for simplicity.

What do you think needs pruning in your own life? I wonder. (Hope it’s not me. Haha).

 

 

Look to Art and Beauty

Since my father passed away, I have been looking to art and beauty in the everyday. When he was alive, there wasn’t a hummingbird, a great oak tree, a good history book, a classical piece of music, or an oil painting of the beautiful English countryside that he didn’t take close notice, appreciate, and share with me. There wasn’t a day he didn’t notice Nature’s bounty and beauty, or a brilliant work of art.

As I carry him with me, I am reminded with every death, there is rebirth. For every person who dies, a baby is born. For every inhale, there is an exhale. I, of course, have intellectualized these truths, but not until I experienced my father’s passing, did I know what rebirth felt like to die to the past and weave a new life for myself.

In the book, The Second Half Life: Opening the Eight Gates of Wisdom, anthropologist and author, Angeles Arrien states, “We are all born with a great dream for our lives. A dream that may have been derailed along the way by family and career responsibilities or submerged by our own choices. In the second half of life, after your roots have gone deeply into the world, it is time to resurrect this dream.”

As a writer and insight practitioner, I look to art and beauty for inspiration. A lover of silence and creativity, the two go hand in hand, to provide the Inner Peace I value as much as the breath. Every morning, I walk my dog, then sit down to write, read and wonder about the mysteries of life all around me. Continue reading Look to Art and Beauty

Fireside Heaven

On this rainy Saturday, after taking a meditative walk with my dog, Ella, fall-2016-005I nestle into a comfy port wine chair inside my living room, what my friend calls “Fireside Heaven.” I like the sound of that, a name that aptly describes a quiet sanctuary to restore, be inspired, and dream a little dream. fall-2016-124

I am one of the fortunate few to still have a wood-burning fireplace to keep me warm and cozy, safe from the noisy and crazy world outside. Here, I look out my window at the serene side of nature, cherishing the simple things worth savoring, moment to moment.

I imagine Fireside Heaven in the same way Virginia Woolf does in, “A Room of One’s Own.” A place to center one self, gather your thoughts, to read and to write. A soulful place that no one can take away from me, from any of us.

Without leaving my chair, I read and have wings to travel to Africa in Circling the Sun by Paula McLain, afall-2016-041n inspiring story about the pioneering life of Beryl Markham, the first woman racehorse trainer and pilot to soar solo from the Atlantic, east to west, in pursuit of personal freedom. If you are a fan of Out of Africa, like I am, you’ll be intrigued with Beryl’s entanglement inside the love triangle between safari hunter, Denys Finch Hatton, and writer and Baroness, Karen Blixen (Isak Dinesen), only to discover that the spiritual freedom she longed for was inside herself.

For me, Fireside Heaven is a form of freedom, a state of being, a place to call your own. markham-inside-planeFor Beryl it was inside a plane flying into the horizon. Everyone has a room of their own if they just surrender to their place in this life, find the courage to soar and move willingly into it .

Living Juicy: Passion, Purpose, and the Perversity of Spirit

It’s not just peaceful and quiet in the wine country, it’s juicy and alive filled with wonder, color, change and possibility. It’s alchemy at its finest. Juicy, juicy, juicy. The grapes turn to wine with the help of Wine03human hands; the sun basks on our veggie gardens and produces food at the dinner table; the birds find food to feed their young in their twig-filled nests, and the peacock must do its mating dance and spread its blue-green feathers to show its magnificence.February 2012 043

All creatures have a passion and purpose. Every day they are busy at work to complete their mission. They simply must. This holds to true for people. Everyone has their own reason for being on this planet, if they just heed the call.

But the call does not come without its own perversity. The spirit must find its way through the obstacle course of life, and arrive if it will, dependent on its level of unbending commitment.

I learned about the perversity of spirit on Saturday when I took a writing class called, Writing as a Path to Awakening by Albert De Silva, author of the haunting memoir, Beamish Boy and Poet Laureate of Marin County, California. In the course, he shared an article by Rufi Thorpe, author of a novel, The Girls from Corona Del Mar. In the article published by The Literary Life, a young writer was asking the teacher, “Whether or not he should be a writer. Do I have what it takes?”

She answered, “that no one, no one can answer that question for you.”

On the verge of tears he went on, “But do you think I’m talented?”

She replied, “What I think is that talent is the least important thing about a writer. “What is important?” he asked.

She said dryly, maybe cruelly: “Perversity of spirit. Talent is the least important thing about a writer, compared to a love of books, which must be deep and abiding. The only thing a writer really needs is the emotional equivalent of a cartoon creature’s bouncy springiness, so that after being run over or blown up–or in the case of the writer, rejected and rejected some more–the writer is irrationally unfazed by even the most valid criticism and continues to work.”

We do what we must. Whether you’re a writer, photographer, leader, educator, curator, sculpturer, painter, etc.–it’s the perseverance and determination to see your goals and dreams come true–regardless of the Nay-sayers, the obstacles, the odds. Who cares about them and that? If you must create, you will.

I love this quote by Goethe.

Related image

“Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do. As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live.  — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Whether is Goethe, the poet or Nature the creator, they show us their creations every day through sheer will. Sonoma MPK 05

The truth is, the world needs beauty in the form of story, art, photos, cooking recipes, etc. and of course always is made from two essential ingredients: perseverance and an absurd, fun and strange sense of humor.

It doesn’t matter our age, what matters is our passion to create and stay juicy. The perversity of the spirit.

 

A Sense of Place

Clouds hover over our home as the leaves on the Maple trees start to turn. Soon, the sun will break and the sky will be painted in blue. There is a quivering in the air with the anticipation of fall. The day is just beginning and there will never be another one like it.

sky photo

Before the neighbors wake, I take a walk with my dog Ella. She came from the streets of Thailand, poor thing, only one years old. She lives with us now, where all is quiet, sure and still. Thankfully, she has fallen into the arms of safety, love and trust. She sleeps deeply every night in the knowledge of this truth.

Photo cred: Deborah Parrish

In return, she gifts me with time. The time to take meditative walks, to remember what’s important in this life. She nudges me, even begs me to join her and venture into the wonders of nature in the wine country. Mozart plays into my headphones as the violin serenades me through the lush green vineyards toward the back country roads of Sonoma. At this time of year, the grapes are alive with color and bulging with juice waiting to be plucked off the vines. 008

I pay attention to the living things connected to timelessness, to a mystical place I once came from many moons ago and where I will one day return; I look at the Sun, the Dahlias resting in a garden pot, the Mayacamas Mountains in the distance, and feel the aliveness of the human spirit, the dog spirit. They are one. We walk a good mile before we had back to our daily routine.

After an hour, I am back at my desk and spend most my hours writing about Sonoma, about the hidden music I hear rustling in the Redwood Trees, about hope and beauty. Somehow, the words mysteriously make their way onto the page.

sonoma-garden1.jpg

I write about place, my sense of place. The center of the Sun.

 

 

A Gentle Thing

It’s raining.  I stop to listen and watch it coming down. The rain feeds my soul, nourishes our planet. As the drops fall on my face, I bask in the quiet of this gentle and simple pleasure and think of a man I admired much. Alan Rickman.  I loved his work, his art.  He said, “If only life could be a little more tender and art a little more robust.

He is right.  The times cry for tender moments.  They crave, simpler, gentler times like a walk in the rain, the holding of hands, a smile, art.  All things one can not fight.

In honor of Alan Rickman, I wish for tenderness, creativity and art.  May it be so.

 

Harvest Time: 5 Ways to Transform Your Life

It’s harvest time, and during the Fall season in the wine country, great changes are at hand, at the hands of Mother Earth, the winemaker, and the wine lover.

6764_10151511040733376_699860311_n Bud008When the grapes are picked, ready to turn to wine, I claim humans are not much different than those lovely robust clusters of fruit dangling on the vine, waiting to be picked, waiting to be changed.  Do we not have our own step-by- step process that if carefully followed we might reach our dreams, or goals, our highest state of being?

First, we must accept things the way they are.  Be with how things are.  Second, you must question why you want what you want? Is it to make your life better? Is it to escape where you are now? Accept. Adapt. Grow.

In an article for hiplatina, I was asked to write on the subject of alchemy, on the ways you can change your life more organically, rather than from the usual ‘looking outside yourself'” approach.  I wrote it from the perspective of a small town winemaker during harvest time.  I would love to share this article with you, Harvest Time: 5 Ways to Transform Your Life  here. Just click on the link and see if this natural path of change resonates with you.  And while you’re reading, have a delicious glass of wine along the way.

Cheers!  To life!