Tag Archive | living the dream


For years I’ve had this idea of photographing this view every day and building a series called “Living Inside the Kaleidoscope.” I have taken dozens of shots through the years, but only in the last few weeks have settled on this framing and started sharing them. It feels good to finally be intentional, accidentally, with this project.

Another project I’ve been working on is a podcast about mindfulness. It’s not that I think I’m an expert or anything. It’s just that this practice has made such a positive difference in the quality of my life that I want to share it with others who, just like me, suffer from unhelpful or even destructive thoughts and emotions that derail our best efforts at living our best life. I’ve got the time, and a little more knowledge and experience than a lot of people, and so that’s the direction I’m turning my creative energy at this point in my life. I’m grateful for the teachers who have helped me reach this state of contentment, and there are so many.

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama has been an inspiration for most of my life. When I consider that he fled his homeland into permanent exile in the year that I was born, it feels like he’s been with me my whole life. Archbishop Desmond Tutu is another lifelong inspiration. The movie of their last few years of friendship before the Archbishop’s death is now available on Netflix. Other teachers along the way include Mrs. Perucci, Mrs. Hanabury, Mrs. French, Dottie Olin, and so many other school teachers through the years, and then those whom I started learning from later, like Cynthia Wilcox, Catherine Ingram, Laura Bartels and Mark Molony with the Mindful Life Program, John Bruna with the Way of Compassion Dharma Center, Kristen Neff, Pema Chodron, and many others. All that I know except my own experience I have learned from these teachers.

I’m grateful to be able to share insights and observation, and examples of transformation in my life, here on this blog, and grateful for readers who enjoy, benefit from, and comment on it. I’m grateful to offer experiences and understanding in this new podcast as well, including a guided meditation with each episode. If you’re interested, here are some links where you can find it. Here is the RSS, whatever that means, which some people can open readily and some people need a special app for. You can also listen on Spotify, Google podcasts, a nice Indian website that was among the first to upload it, and on my retreat website, and it should be available on whatever podcast platform you use within the next few days, including Apple and Amazon Music. It’s called “Suffer Less… with Mindfulness,” from Mirador Eco-Retreat. Enjoy, and feel free to ask questions or offer feedback.

The Pedal

I’m grateful that the new pedal for the sewing machine works! It’s not perfect: it doesn’t want to stay plugged into the back of the machine. But I braced it to stay put, and got some projects finished yesterday. The fifth and last panel for the sunroom curtains (which I started twenty years ago) is together, the one on the left with the eyelash viper appliqué. Only one curtain is actually assembled and hanging, and now I have four left to finish decorating and sew onto the Warm Window lining. Originally I planned these to insulate the five sunroom windows from winter cold, but as our winters became increasingly mild (along with some major distractions) I kept putting it off. Now I’m motivated to finish them, and another shade for the landing window, to insulate the house from summer sun and increasingly uncomfortable heatwaves. I’m very grateful that I’m fortunate enough to have an adobe house whose temperature remains relatively stable season to season, year to year; knowing full well there are millions of people who don’t have this kind of protection as our climate becomes increasingly unstable.

The first thing I sewed with the new pedal was the gown-curtains. They’re not fancy or fussy, with some rips and raw edges here and there, but they’ll do the trick of mitigating hot sun in the east and west windows in summer, and tempering the cold in winter. And finally making something out of that gown? A priceless feeling of accomplishment.
Here I am in the gown in college, on the way to a costume party with my page, Brian. It was only fair that he was my servant this year, since I was his slave the year before that…

I’m grateful to have these old photos to prompt memories of fun times and special people. But I’m thinking about digitizing just a few special images and throwing all the rest–all the loose photos in boxes, all the albums from childhood, from generations of ancestors before me, from the Colonel’s Army days, from my mother’s last year–just throwing them all away. They take up so much space. And after I’m gone, who will want them? Do I even want them? There’s a certain discomfort in looking at them now, especially those that cover my life. I’m no longer that person. I no longer know Brian, or almost anyone else from my past. I found in looking through the album that contained these two pictures, in looking at these two pictures, that much more than happy memories comes up: memories of embarrassing moments, emotional wounds, longings unsatisfied, choices made, chances missed, a melancholy retrospective. I don’t want to look backward at what and how my life was. I don’t want to think about that girl or her angst. For every fun or happy moment, there were hours of anxiety and dissatisfaction. I didn’t know who I was or what really mattered to me. And none of that past matters now, when there is so little future left.

I want to look forward, not backward. Who am I today? Who do I want to be tomorrow, if I get there? I’ve found contentment in the simple life I lead, close to the land and the wild, growing food, listening to birds, watching clouds; cherishing each day on this beautiful planet even as I witness its unraveling. Finding gratitude and joy in the smallest things:

Baking Aunt Clara’s biscuit recipe, and eating one warm out of the oven with the first taste of apricot jam…
Serving an amuse bouche of blue cheese-stuffed portobellos for Boyz Lunch…
…trying a new recipe with eggplants from the garden, stuffed with a peanut-spice mixture and then steamed in a pot of same…
… serving the Boyz eggplant, stuffed squash blossoms, and a bowl of garden zucchini and orach with créme fraîche and parmesan, along with biscuits, and chocolate chip cookies… enjoying their enjoyment of the food and our time together, and deriving deep satisfaction from serving a meal grown mostly in my garden.
And, of course, I’m grateful for and find meaning in giving a good life to this dear, comical little creature.

Putting the Garden to Bed

I’m grateful for putting the garden to bed before the first snow today at this elevation, which continues after dark lightly frosting every leaf and limb white prior to the first real freeze. I started a week ago, and have been whittling at it for a few hours each day. I’m grateful for putting the garden to bed after a thrilling season. The counter is loaded with the last ripe tomatoes, tomatillos are all put up in the pantry, heaps of parsley are distilled into pesto and frozen cubes; rattlesnake and runner bean pods dry in large paper bags; eggplants and carrots fill the fridge. I’m living the dream.

I’m grateful for putting the garden to bed with tips and tricks from gardeners online. I’ve hung tomato vines to ripen in the upstairs room, beside pepper plants with wrapped rootballs. Some gardeners advised misting the roots, while others just left them dry. I compromised with a quick twist of plastic bag to prevent them from instantly desiccating in this climate, maybe giving the peppers a bit more nourishment as they redden.

I’m grateful for another day with my little helper, covered in snow. Like in the movie Awakenings, he is transformed with drugs, and like those patients he will eventually relapse into inevitable decline. His resilience astounds me. He wants to be alive.