Thursday, December 5, 2013

Resistance is Futile

NaDaYoPraMo is going passably well. I've managed to practice yoga every day so far, although hard-core practitioners would raise a questioning eyebrow. (I almost said "would have sneered" but if they are really hard-core, there would be no sneering.) I have managed to eke out about a half dozen half sun salutations along with one or two days with slightly (but only just) longer practices. I'm trying to be kind to myself and accepting that I am doing what I have time to do and what moves me. And what moves me is attempting to open my hips and loosen my hamstrings. Thanks to running and a very sedentary job, both are, shall we say, a bit tight.

One of the things I'm noticing this month is that I'm resisting more.

I find that I'm resisting and thereby sabotaging my daily yoga practice. "Just a few more minutes in bed" I think. "I have plenty of time" I think. And before I know it, the minutes have slipped away to my daydreaming and I'm forced to do the bare minimum, like the half dozen half sun salutations and maybe a balance pose.

And more importantly, my heart/soul sister is moving and my heart aches for her. She's losing a beautiful place to live, as well as friends who will eventually return to Sweden. On the other hand, her attachment to place is broken which leaves her free to follow her heart. And I'm finding that I am totally resisting that change because eventually she'll move way too far north. I know our friendship will not diminish with distance. But it will necessarily change. I will lose so much. And she will gain so much by being with her love and having the chance to grow her career.

Change will come whether or not we want it to. As they say, resistance is futile.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Of a Certain Age

Today's yoga practice was much abbreviated, unless you count the hour or so that I lay in sivasana, trying to get back to sleep at 2:00 a.m. It seems that no matter what time I go to bed, I wake up around midnight, then again at 1:00 or 3:00. Somewhere between 4:00 and 5:00, Emma (the cat) starts petitioning me for breakfast and there is no sleeping through it because she will knock things off the night stand or pull over the lamp (note that she only acts like that when she wants breakfast).

Sivasana did help, but then Emma woke me up at 4:00. I got up at 5:00 to feed her and went back to bed, setting the alarm for 6:30 for yoga practice. That did not go well, as I didn't get up until almost 8:00. So the morning yoga was about a half dozen half sun salutations.

This waking up in the middle of the night is highly annoying. I've heard about bimodal sleep, where one sleeps for a couple of hours, wakes up and has a snack or meditates or reads, then goes back to sleep for a couple more hours. One night, maybe when I don't have to go work the following day, I'll try getting up, just to see how well it works.

Now, to sleep, perchance to dream. Or perhaps it should be to dream, perchance to sleep!

Sunday, December 1, 2013


Well, NaBloPoMo is over. And I hereby declare that December is NaDaYoPraMo: National Daily Yoga Practice Month. Actually, Elizabeth pledged to practice yoga daily in December, so I can't really take credit for it. But really? What better month to start a daily yoga practice than December, with all its attendant stresses with what gifts to buy, parties to go, meals to cook, families and friends to deal with?

I'm not sure how NaDaYoPraMo is going to play out for me. I suspect that I'll start off with speed yoga: a quick centering, a couple of sun salutations, a balance pose, a twist or two, and a lightning quick sivasana. But, once I get into the rhythm of getting on the mat every day, I'll sink into the practice, going deeper into each pose, holding it longer, breathing deeper.

Yoga Today has online classes, and they have a free 30-day trial! This might very well be my go-to resource for those days when I don't want to practice speed yoga.

Yoga Journal is also a great resource, with articles, videos, and tips for creating a home practice.

And of course, there's always the local yoga studio.

Here's to a blissful month of yoga!


Saturday, November 30, 2013

Deepest Night

I awaken. It's still dark and I reach for the phone to check the time. 1:32 a.m. I sigh, and flounce just a little bit in bed (but not enough to disturb my husband) to express my displeasure at waking yet again early in the morning. The air from the open window is fresh, cold. I lie still, willing sleep to come. It does not.

In the crystalline silence, I listen. I hear my husband breathe next to me, and the hum of the heating system. I cast my senses wider, and listening deeper, hear a train whistle, far in the distance. I might even hear the train's wheels, singing on the rails. I listen closer, and hear the tinkle of the neighboring dog's tags as it crisscrosses the lawn, intent on its nocturnal errand, its paws padding on grass crisp with frost.

In the summer, after the insects have ceased their cacophonous symphony, I hear the call and response of the owls. In the early morning, perhaps before and mostly likely after the rooster crows, the throaty purr of the watermen's boats insinuates itself into my consciousness, as they head out to check the crab pots.

There is so much to hear at night, if only we take the time to listen deeply, beyond the noise of the traffic and the hum and whine of heating systems. The creak and pops of the house suggest age, as do the creaks and pops of our joints as we move, seeking to ease the stresses of the day. The chirrup of a bird, when no bird should be stirring; is the bird dreaming or has it been startled from its rest by a predator?

And there's so much more to hear during the day, if we can slip underneath the surface noise. There are stories there, common yet uncommon. The untold story of a baby's cry, the joyous laughter of the toddler playing, the tense verbal exchange of the neighbors across the street.

All contribute to the rich tapestry of our lives.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Remembrance of Things Past

Today was an oxymoron…lazy but productive. I spent the day hanging out with my mother, knitting. The conversation meandered, twisting this way and that, and eventually circling back to the original topic. I learned that I do not have mad crochet skills. Heck, I can't even crochet a chain for a provisional cast on without screwing it up! Nonetheless, I made a good start on the toe on a sock for my husband. And I ripped back the Amberwell shawl and reknit most of it. It was sheer bliss to spend most of the day knitting. My brother and his son dropped by and they helped my father finish putting plastic over the back porch screens and Tom and my brother installed a new faucet in the bathroom.

Over dinner, we talked about my parents' families while they were growing up. It was interesting to hear the stories and make the connections with my memories from childhood. I never knew that my father had scarlet fever. And that the house that I remember was originally a burned-out shell my father and his siblings and friends played in that my grandfather bought and refurbished.

I have more that I'd like to write but the thoughts are not well-formed and the television is distracting (some show where entrepreneurs are trying to get investors to buy their idea; the way the investors are treating the entrepreneurs is awful). I'm finding I have a deep aversion to television. It mostly wants to make me run, screaming, out of the room. Too much noise, too much dissonance, too much conflict. It seriously harshes on my mellow.

Tomorrow is the last day of NaBloPoMo. It's hard to believe that November is almost over. And then December starts NaDaYoPraMo! And that will be way harder than NaBloPoMo.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Giving Thanks

The trip south had an auspicious start: I spotted a red-tailed hawk hovering above the side of the road and a few miles down the road, I saw a bald eagle sitting a tree. Traffic was relatively light and drivers were polite. If anything, they were driving just a wee bit too slow. Maybe they had a little too much amended egg nog for breakfast?

It was good to gather with family. My youngest brother and his family chose to celebrate Thanksgiving elsewhere this year, so the family was incomplete. My youngest nephew kept everyone in stitches. When the talk turned to snow, inevitably the topic of yellow snow came up. When asked how he knows about yellow snow (it doesn't snow much down here), he replied "I know all about pee!" Totally cracked us up; totally!

My brothers and their families left a little while ago. The Oakland/Dallas game is on and my husband and my father are napping. Mom is reading on her Kindle; I'm tapping away on my laptop. I think we're all going to go to bed a bit early tonight. And tomorrow will bring more visits with the family.

Every year I'm thankful for my family, friendships (current, lapsed, and rekindled), good health and prosperity. This year we'll all very thankful that my sister-in-law's cancer is in remission.

What are you thankful for?

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Grasping Reality

The weather the last couple of days has been a bit tempestuous. It rained yesterday and poured last night (I'm afraid to see how much water is in the basement). Today was windy and there were snow showers (sadly, the snow didn't stick). Now the sky is clearing and stars are twinkling, which foretells a cold night.

I still have to keep reminding myself that tomorrow is Thanksgiving, else I will forget. Which would be very bad because we're supposed to go to my parents' for Thanksgiving dinner. The cranberry sauce is made (thanks to my dear husband) and as is the mac and cheese (to kill for). (Seriously, that's its name.) I make a couple of modifications, sautéing onions or shallots in the butter before making the white sauce and substituting peas for ham. It is by far the best macaroni and cheese I've ever eaten.

Even though I worked from home today, I don't feel like I got as much accomplished as I wanted. I still need to find the #7 interchangeable needle tips for my shawl project, which are probably stuck in the Basket of Shame, or some other bag that is holding unfinished objects. I need to find my Brittany size 0s because I'm not happy with metal 0s that I'm using for a sock. And I have to pack, pack up the food, get ice, get gas… So much more to do!

There are times when I'm grateful for the four-footed feline alarm clock that goes off at 5:00 a.m.!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

It's a Buggy Life

Some days at work are better than others and some are more frustrating than others. Today was one of the frustrating days. It started out innocently enough. I plowed through some release management tasks, wrote a couple of status reports, then turned my attention to opening defect reports for a few problems I found while working on one of the user guides. Sadly, one defect led to another defect and another defect and before I knew it, there were defects on the defects. That's an exaggeration, but not by much. I think I can safely say that I haven't quite lost my knack for software testing, even after 10 years of being in management. But really, all I want to do is update the user guide and not find bugs! Is that too much to ask?

In other news, November is almost over. It's hard to believe that I've managed to write something every day. Of course, it's not over yet and I'll be traveling for Thanksgiving, which adds a little bit of a challenge. I've actually enjoyed writing these little posts and perhaps will strive to post every day in December. Oh wait, I've declared December to be NaDaYoPraMo. And I'm not sure that I'll be able to swing a daily yoga practice and a daily blog practice. NaDaYoPraMo first, then blogging. And I also need to find time to knit. And spin. And do all of the creative things that I never do, even though I say I'm going to do them.

I've already started thinking about January,which means I'm getting way ahead of myself and will most likely be setting myself up for failure. So, before I get into any more trouble with myself, I'm going to say "Good night and sweet dreams!"

Monday, November 25, 2013


Confession: I decided to do NaBloPoMo as a lark. Elizabeth was doing it and I accepted the challenge as well. And while I don't have a huge readership (like almost no readership)(thankyouverymuch if you are the readership), I've found it fairly easy to keep up with daily posts. There have been plenty of times, though, when I've been lost in my own little world after dinner when I suddenly realize that I need to write a blog post. Then I scramble for some pithy post and mostly come up short.

So Elizabeth decided that she would practice yoga every day in December. I enjoy yoga. It's a physical challenge and a mental one. But when I slip into the various asanas, I can feel both my body and mind say "Ahhhh!" I lengthen my spine, spiral my quads, and listen to and adjust my body. What I don't do is practice yoga every day. Or even every week, despite knowing the benefits I will gain from a daily practice. I resist it and I'm not sure why.

Perhaps it's because I don't have a really good spot to practice. Our house, while not small, has small rooms. But I've practiced in crowded yoga classes before and the rooms in the house can't be that cramped. Perhaps it's because our house is so cold in the mornings. I hate being cold and therefore often lie in bed, buried beneath the covers, visualizing doing yoga. But it's not the same.

But perhaps the real reason holding me back from doing yoga is fear. Fear that I'm not flexible enough (I'm not flexible at all). Fear that I'm not strong enough (totally not true, although head stand is challenging and hand stand, right now, is right out). But the real fear? Fear that I will see, through my body's inability to move through the asanas, that I'm old. But really? I'm not old. And the crazy thing is that by practicing yoga, I'll become more flexible (body and mind), I'll become stronger, and I'll stave off aging.

So perhaps I should accept the challenge, join Elizabeth, and declare December NaDaYoPraMo.


Sunday, November 24, 2013

Perspective Shift

Hmmm…I had a post all composed in my head and what happens? The minute I sit down to write it, it's gone! I really need to start making a note of the post topics so the forgetting doesn't happen. Well, the forgetting probably will happen, but it should make the remembering a lot easier.

Ah…got it!

My soul sister has had the great privilege to rent a small apartment on the "estate" that belongs to a friend of ours. The big house was built in the early 30s, I believe, and is very elegant, in an understated way. They've done a lot of landscaping and have apricot, apple, pear, and fig trees. The apartment feels very European and has great views. But our friend is getting on in years and the work needed to maintain the house and land is huge. Their children (and grandchildren) are in Sweden and I suspect they've been getting pressure to move back home. So a couple of years ago, they put the house on the market. Given the price point, there were not a lot of prospective buyers. Until now. They finally found a buyer and it looks like the sale is going to go through. From the little bits and pieces that I've heard, I've formed a not-very-nice opinion of the buyers (he sat in the car talking on the phone the entire time they were there for the second showing; they apparently said "We want her out" with regard to my friend continuing to rent). The attitude seems arrogant and grasping and I'm feeling sad that such a beautiful, peaceful property changing hands in this manner.

As I was laying in bed this morning, trying not be move because my head still hurt, I thought about my attitude and how it wasn't very charitable, and indeed, is rather selfish. I don't want the estate to sell because I don't want my friends to go back to Sweden. I don't want my soul sister to move because she'll move to temporary lodgings, which will make it easier for her to eventually move to Massachusetts (and I'll be lost without our deep metaphysical talks while we run). Clearly, I need to shift my perspective.

Instead of the buyers being grasping and trying to get as good a deal as possible, perhaps his job is stressful and they are moving to this property to find the peace that they so desperately need. Their children will thrive in nature and will delight to find all sorts of hidden dens amongst the trees and shrubberies. Even if they aren't moving to the property to find peace, I suspect it won't take long before they do find it. That is my wish for them.

The shift in thinking still doesn't alleviate my sadness with the changes. But it does make it a little more tolerable.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

A Random Connection

Today did not start well. I was wakened by a migraine at 4:21 a.m. (EST, to be precise) and despite two Excedrins, it never really went away and I still have the vestiges. Nonetheless, I managed to drag myself out of bed to meet a friend for coffee and go to the farmers market and run other errands. I did not go to yoga, nor did I clean house (even though that was my main goal for today).

It was while at the liquor store getting some rum for hot toddies (or rather, apple cider with rum), that a little connection happened. While I was debating which rum to get (bottom shelf, top shelf, middle shelf artisanal?), a man stopped on his way to the checkout and recommended a single barrel bourbon (Eagle Rare, if you must know). He was obviously a farmer: jeans, flannel shirt, brimmed cap. He chatted for a bit and told me a little story about that bourbon.

His father-in-law was a president (the president, perhaps) of Freddie Mac (or maybe Fannie Mae; I always confuse those two) and loved single malt Scotch and would always drink very expensive ones. At least until his son-in-law (my farmer) introduced him to Eagle Rare. It became his father-in-law's preferred drink. My farmer continued the story, saying that his father-in-law lived with him and his wife for the last four years of his life and how they'd always sit and look at the mountains from porch on the farm. He told me about his father-in-law's passing and how he still misses him, even though it's been eight years (we both got a little teary-eyed at this point). When he asked his father-in-law (who clearly was a very successful businessman) what was his secret to success, he replied "Always have a smile on your face and be kind."

Truer words were never spoken.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Planetary Relationships

It's interesting how relationships change over time. We develop friendships and love relationships (not to mention our family relationships) and as we move away or get a new job or have children, those relationships change. Contact slowly (or suddenly) drops away and we're spinning off in different directions.

Just because we've spun away from each other doesn't mean that the friend or lover has been removed from the heart. Rather, I see us spinning away, while others spin closer, and then those will spin away. It reminds me of the movement of the solar system or maybe one of those teacup rides at the carnival. Eventually, those who have spun away will spin towards us again.

We're in a great cosmic relationship dance, always connected, even if we don't realize it. Sometimes that dance is full of joy, as when someone we love or admire comes spinning towards us. Sometimes the dance is tentative, fearful even, when illness is taking a loved one from us or someone we have an uncomfortable relationship with spins toward us and we can't spin away fast enough.

This dance can be ever so slow, slow with the moving away and slow with the coming together (it takes a long time for a child to grow up). Or it can be lightning quick (a coup de foudre as it were), where both parties aren't quite sure what hit them.

But slow or fast, joyful or fearful, this dance should be embraced, because it adds such depth and meaning to our lives.


Thursday, November 21, 2013


Stepping past the evergreen tree on the edge of the driveway, I feel that its boughs are frosted with snow. I smell the snow. Tonight there is no snow. Prescience or wishful thinking?

Lately I've felt that I can do anything. Write a book? Yes! Paint? Yes! Knit? Of course! I might not do these things well (at least not at first), but do them I can. And perhaps do them I must. I feel like I could be the artsy equivalent of a superhero!

Wanderlust. I have it. As I was driving home tonight, my thoughts wandered to France and how there is so much of the world I haven't seen. There's something incredibly freeing about traveling. The day stretches, empty, yet full of promise. I feel lighter when I travel. Is it because I've thrown off the trappings of ordinary life? There is no job, no house, a minimum of belonging that I carry with me. And I wonder: Would I feel as light and free in my ordinary life if I downsized and shed the majority of my belongings?

There's much to contemplate.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


Once again I have no idea what to write. I have a vague idea forming. It touches the edge of my consciousness and before I can grab it and hold it tight, it fades away. It then creeps back at the very moment that I cannot grab a pen and a piece of paper and write it down. Perhaps it will fully reveal itself this weekend. Or perhaps it won't.

When I first thought about starting a second blog, I had rather grandiose ideas about what I would write and how I would write it. So far, things aren't working out as I imagined. But isn't that ever the case? You start down one path and then something distracts you and before you know it, you aren't anywhere near where you'd thought you'd be. One would hope that where you ended up is somehow better than where you were headed. But maybe it isn't. But wherever you end up, it's where you need to be. Maybe you are helping someone, maybe someone is helping you, maybe you are being handed a life lesson.

My friend was disappointed with his half marathon time, because he knew he could do better. And yes, that's probably true. He could do better and probably will. But on that day, he ran the race he ran. No more and no less. It's not bad and it's not good. It just is.

So this blog just is. And one day, as that idea touches the edge of my consciousness, I'll take it by surprise and seize it. If it will let me.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

To Husband, With Love

Today is my husband's birthday. He is a man of a certain age. And for the record? Studly 20-year olds ain't got nothin' on him. We've been married almost 18 years and, like any marriage, it's had its ups and downs. But when it comes down to it, I can't see myself being with anyone else.

Here are a few pictures over the years.

"Figure skating" at Deep Creek Lake, years before we were married.

On Long's Peak, in Colorado:

On a sailing trip:

After his finish at the Hardrock 100 this year:

I wish for him many more happy, healthy years!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Day 18

I can't believe that I've managed to write a blog post every day. This post, however, is going to be short. I'm reading a fascinating book, Good Calories, Bad Calories, that discusses the history and controversy around what's now medical and dietary dogma that cholesterol and saturated fats are responsible for heart disease and obesity in this country. I decided to read it again, given the recent update to cholesterol guidelines.

I find that more and more, I distrust the medical industry. We treat symptoms only and are much to quick too prescribe drugs, rather than search for the underlying cause of an illness or malaise and attempting to remedy it with lifestyle changes first. And yes, I do understand that getting the majority of the population to be compliant with lifestyle changes is challenging, at best.

I'm pretty sure that when I go for my next physical, my doctor is going to try to prescribe statins for me. My cholesterol is higher than what is recommended. But my risk factor, when looking at the ratio of HDL, LDL, and triglycerides, is below average. So why put a drug into my system that's going to mess with my body, when there isn't a clear and present danger?

Most, if not all, of the the studies that recommended low-cholesterol diets were done with a population of middle-aged men. I'm not a middle-aged man. I suspect a lot of the statin trials were conducted on a similar population. There was a piece in the Huffington Post, The Statin Insanity, that looked at some of the numbers associated with the effectiveness of statins: "Even for heart patients, a group in whom the benefits of statin drugs are broadly accepted, 80 people have to take the drug for one life to be saved. And just one in 40 will be spared from a heart attack. For these scraps of hopeful benefit, there is a price: the drug will give one in every 50 diabetes."

My philosophy is to eat a well-balanced diet, one that includes local pastured beef, pork, chicken, eggs, lots of local veggies, some fruit, some grains. I need to work on reducing the amount of sugar in my diet (I do love me a little dessert after dinner). And I think it's important to work to reduce inflammation in your body. According to one source (which I cannot find), inflammation in your blood vessels creates a surface so that lipids adhere, thus clogging the veins and arteries. But yet the test that can detect inflammation isn't given (or rather, isn't covered by insurance) unless you are already presenting symptoms of heart disease. That doesn't make much sense to me.

At any rate, I find the various discussions interesting. I probably should have been a biologist. Except there was the little problem of chemistry class...

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Richmond Half

If you couldn't tell from my lame attempt at haiku in yesterday's post, I ran the Richmond Half Marathon yesterday. I signed up for it on a whim (peer pressure, if you must know) and thought I'd have plenty of time to train, given that I had finished another half marathon two months before. But as is my wont, my motivation plummeted and I was lucky to eke out one or two six-mile days each week. This is what is know as "insufficient training".

I drove down to Richmond Friday evening and crashed with some friends I hadn't seen in almost 30 years. It was strange and wonderful on so many levels. We stayed up later than we should have and 5:00 a.m. came way too early on Saturday. After breakfasting on half of a bagel with wee bit of cream cheese and peanut butter, we were off. Rain was in the forecast and all of us were praying "Please don't rain, pleeeease don't rain." And of course it did rain and it rained hard. We were soaked before the race started!

Since I was insufficiently trained, I decided to run with one of my friends who recently started running and who said he'd be running slow. It was perfect! We had time to catch up, and discuss politics and public policy, which is just the way I like to run. (I hate running by myself). I bored regaled him with stories of my past races and passed on what little running wisdom I have. He told me of his running goals, both short term and long, and I was quite impressed.

I was keeping a close eye on the time, knowing what it would take for him to set a personal record (PR), and towards the end of the race, when he was tiring, I pushed him just a wee bit (I'm hesitant to push anyone too hard, mostly because I don't want to be responsible for any injuries.) We crossed the finish line together, and he did set a new PR!

I learned a lot this week, by reconnecting with people who played important parts in my life a long time ago. I'm still processing conversations and emotions and will eventually tease out some answers to questions I've had. But I can say, without doubt, that I know I can run a half marathon without much training, as long as I go slow. I had plenty of energy left at the end, and am only just a wee bit sore today.

My next running challenge? It just might be the Seneca Greenway 50K.


Saturday, November 16, 2013


Running thirteen miles 
In the rain
Richmond Half Marathon fun

Friday, November 15, 2013

Pay It Forward Friday

One day, not long after the Sandy Hook and Aurora tragedies, I felt an overwhelming need to do something, anything, to make someone's day better. I had been hearing about people paying for hot drinks at Starbucks that would later be given to the homeless who would come in and ask for one. Our homeless population doesn't frequent the coffee shop I go to, so I decided to buy the person in line behind me the drink of their choice. I was terrified the first time I did it, agonizing over whether people would think me weird, or that I was stalking them. What if they rejected my gift?

I walked into the coffee shop, heart fluttering. No one was behind me and I was a bit relieved, and a bit disappointed. I ordered, then someone else came in. I turned around and nonchalantly said "What are you having?". He told me and I had his drink added to my bill. He of course protested, then wanted to know why I did that. I got a little teary-eyed and explained it had been a terrible week and wanted to do something nice for someone. He didn't quite get it and offered to buy me a coffee the next time. I declined and suggested he could buy a coffee for someone he didn't know.

I walked away that morning feeling good and every Friday since, I buy the person in line behind me the drink of their choice. The people of the coffee shop get a kick out of it and the owner loves to explain why I'm doing it.

At some level, though, I feel a bit guilty. I live in a very affluent county (although obviously not everyone is affluent) and most people can afford the coffee. Could those dollars be spent elsewhere to help someone who really needs the help? What am I accomplishing? It's not really about the money, though. It's about doing something nice (random acts of kindness, as the coffee shop owner says) and spreading positive energy.

This world desperately needs more positive energy.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

A Story of Transformation and The Magic of Myth

Several years ago, I discovered Squam Art Workshops. The Yarn Harlot had posted something about it, and curious, I followed the link and was immediately intimidated. This art workshop was for real artists! I'm not an artist! If I go, I'll be exposed as a fraud! And with a wistful sigh, I closed the page and didn't think about it again. At least, not until she posted again about the Spring session. Again, I followed the link. And huzzah! It was a knitting retreat, with some other artsy stuff going on. I could so attend a knitting retreat! So I registered in and in early June 2011, embarked on a solo road trip to Holderness, NH.

At registration, I was handed a beautiful tote bag filled with goodies, one of which was a little packet of inspirational sayings and a book called the journal, volume 1. That night as I was snuggled deep under the covers, I read them and got just the least bit teary; the writings struck a chord deep inside me and I felt like I had come home. Overall, the Squam experience was good. I enjoyed my cabin mates. The knitting classes I took were wonderful. All in all, it was a nice knitting retreat. I drove back home and settled back into post-vacation life.

But a change had started, a sea change of sorts. And I was totally unaware of it, until I took an online art class, hosted by Squam and taught by Alena Hennessey. It sort of blew me away. I started looking at the world differently, focusing in on color, and texture, and the play of light and shadow. I created my first real art in that class and a something started to crack open. Perhaps it was my soul, perhaps it was my heart. Perhaps it was both. And I could not wait until the next Squam.

My second Squam was better than the first. I arrived with my new eyes and a heart that was more open. Predictably, I once again took all knitting classes (because I'm not an artist). And once again, I left subtly changed.

My third Squam, Squam by Sea, was held in the Outer Banks and that was the Squam where I was blown wide open. I took a three-day painting workshop by Flora Bowley and while my paintings were clunky and awkward, they were my paintings! And it was at that Squam that I realized the transformation I was experiencing.

Why do I mention this? Elizabeth Duvivier, the founder of Squam Art Workshops, has just opened registration for an online seminar called The Magic of Myth that she is teaching. And I signed up for it, partly because Elizabeth is teaching it and partly because…I'm not sure why. Maybe it's because, for some reason, myth makes me uncomfortable, and writing my own story (I don't have any stories to tell and definitely not mythic stories!) just doesn't feel right. But after reading Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, I found that some of the tales and archetypes do resonate and maybe, just maybe, I do have a mythic story to tell. And thought of telling that story? Very scary.

And therefore, the transformation continues.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Kitchen Sessions

I read today that Charlie Trotter died. Ever since watching his series The Kitchen Sessions on PBS, I wanted to make a pilgrimage to Chicago to eat at his epynomous restaurant. We never planned the trip and he closed his restaurant and left the business to pursue other interests. I kept hoping that he would relent and open another restaurant, but alas, that was not to be. And he was young, just a year younger than me.

Not long after we moved into our house, we watched our first Kitchen Sessions show. My husband and I were salivating over whatever it was that Charlie Trotter was cooking and we frantically scribbled down ingredients and technique. We were particularly amused whenever Trotter would reintroduce a flavor in the dish. And "reintroduce", as it relates to cooking, remains in our lexicon to this day. It was Charlie Trotter who persuaded us to take a basic dish, then riff on it.

I own two of Charlie Trotter's cookbooks, both gifts from my husband. The Kitchen Sessions has been well-used and shows it. The second book, Charlie Trotter's, is less accessible to the average home cook who is on both a time and money budget. The ingredients lists are long (and some ingredients are hard to find), and most recipes require stocks and sauces that take hours to make. Nonetheless, it's a beautiful book and I dream about having the time and money to be able to cook from it someday.

So on Sunday, assuming I'm not totally dead from running the Richmond Half Marathon the day before, I will create a Trotter-inspired meal, in his memory.

Rest in peace, Charlie Trotter, rest in peace.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

At a Loss

Here I am at Day 12 of NaBloPoMo and I feel like I'm running out things to talk about. That's not true, of course, but I have this little internal expectation that after a few days of daily writing, the words will flow from my fingertips effortlessly, and my thoughts will be perfectly composed, cogent, and full of pithy wisdom. More often than not, it feels like the words are being forcibly extracted from my fingertips and my thoughts are all clunky and awkward. Which, not surprisingly, is how I often feel in real life. Actually, that's how I've felt most of my life.

I was a shy, awkward child who loved nothing more than to have my nose in a book. Or if I couldn't do that, I'd put on one of my mother's cotton dresses and head into the woods to play Pioneer Woman. My horse was a downed tree that had a bouncy branch that was perfect for riding sidesaddle. The rooms of my house were outlined by piles of leaves. I spent hours playing in the woods. I was nothing if not dreamy, with a romantic bent.

I would love to recapture the feeling of losing myself in being who I want to be. That sounds odd, doesn't it? I mean, I am exactly who I am meant to be. But there was a feeling of freedom in pretending to be a strong woman, who roamed the wilderness, and who kept a mean leaf house. Every now and then, I get that feeling when on a road trip and mostly when I'm alone. It's like whatever skin I wear around other people sloughs off and I become more…me. I feel lighter, happier, less constricted.

When I was in elementary school, I'd be a gypsy at Halloween. I wore a brilliant striped taffeta skirt, my mother's scarves, and long bead necklaces. My mother would make up my face and I wore brilliant red lipstick. I was very exotic and I had by far the best costume in the neighborhood. Maybe I'm a gypsy, a vagabond at heart. I'm fascinated by gypsy caravans, or vintage trailers that are essentially tiny houses. I like the idea of roaming and having my own place while roaming. That said, the element of mystery and romance that might be lacking if I carried my house with me.

Ah! To be able to roam at will, to be unfettered by societal expectations. That, to me, sounds like pure bliss!

Monday, November 11, 2013

With Gratitude

Today is Veteran's Day. And while I'm not a flag-waving patriot by any stretch of the imagination, I honor those who serve and who have served in our military to keep us safe, as well as to protect ordinary citizens overseas. While I vehemently disagree with the politicians who send our soldiers into war, I support those who serve.

Yesterday, the running club I belong to hosted a 10K trail race to support Boulder Crest, a retreat center for wounded warriors and their families. All proceeds benefitted Boulder Crest and through generous sponsorship from local corporations and members of the community, we raised $25,000.00. This year, the speaker was a man who survived an IED detonating within two feet of him. He was blinded one side of his body, and the opposite doesn't work like it should. He said that his recovery was (and is) extremely stressful. He spends about 12 hours most days going to doctor and physical therapy appointments. The living conditions are crowded and are usually small apartments to house the soldier and his family. To be able to get away to Boulder Crest is so very important to the recovery process.

The director of Boulder Crest also spoke. He mentioned some of the special programs they have, like equine and falconry therapy. My ears perked up at the mention of falconry therapy and I need to learn more. I also would like to investigate how I could personally help at Boulder Crest (given my lack of falconry experience). So there's at least one email in the future and hopefully I'll be able to put my talents (whatever they may be) to good use.

I ran sweep again this race day, or rather walked it, since there was one walker. I and my partner sweepers kept a respectful distance from her, since we were there to ensure that no one got off course or to help anyone who might be injured. In hindsight, though, I think it might have been best if one of us walked with her.

She was a woman in indeterminate age. She could have been older than me, or she could have been younger. She was certainly less fit. The race course is not all that technical; there are some rocks and roots, a couple of stream crossings, and at least one somewhat steep hill. Compared to the Appalachian Trail and the Massanutten Mountain Trail, it's a walk in the park. Compared to the suburban walking trails, it's intense. And this woman did her walking on suburban trails.

She had a bit of pluck, and she also knew when she had had enough (although the point at which she dropped out was the easier part of the course). She was amazed at the number of rocks that Virginia had (clearly she had never been on the Appalachian Trail or the Massanutten Mountain Trail). She didn't know how to cross streams and didn't know how to navigate down a steep hill. Once I realized that the course was a challenge for her, I kept a close watch and when I saw her stop to try to figure out what to do, I'd run forward to assist her, often taking her hand and talking her through the stream crossing or down a hill.

She threw in the towel at mile 4; she had had enough. I admire her for going as far as she did, without complaining. I'm amazed that she didn't know how to cross a stream or walk down a steep hill. I admire her courage for trying, and once into the race, for not blasting the race organizers for false advertising.

And I am so very grateful to my father for taking us on camping vacations every year (even though I was jealous of my friends who got to stay in hotels with swimming pools). I learned more than I thought I did and out of those trips grew a deep appreciation for nature. I'm also grateful for this body of mine for its strength and agility. I did not appreciate my ability until watching and helping the walker yesterday. To her, I offer my gratitude.

And to the soldiers of this country, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

What Can I Say?

So here I am, day 10 of NaBloPoMo, and have seemingly run out of words. Actually, that's not true. I have a lot words, and good ones, when I'm not at the computer. I compose blog posts in my head all the time (yes, I know…I really should get a life), but when I sit down to actually write them? Pffft! Gone!

Today was a beautiful day. It started clear and crisp, brilliant blue sky, light breeze. By early afternoon, the wind had picked up and even though the temperature hadn't dropped by much, it felt much colder. I have a cow share, so every week I drive out to the farm to pick up a gallon of raw milk. (For the record, if the milk is properly cared for, it's not dangerous. In fact, it's delicious and tastes like a milkshake.) On the road to the farm, I saw a Great Pyrenees cross the road and disappear into the woods. That worried me, because the farm has at least on Great Pyrenees. I asked, and fortunately, it didn't belong to them. I would have been surprised, because their dog is either snoozing in the sun or looking to be petted; he doesn't seem to be the vagabond type. I picked up the milk, perused their selection of grass-fed beef, pork, lamb, and goat, decided I didn't need anything else, and left.

When I reached the bottom of their drive, I looked out over the corn field and saw a bird flying. More specifically, it was a Red Tail Hawk. It was dancing on the wind, circling, rising, sinking. The sun flashed on its wings, illuminated its red tail. Three crows flew into its vicinity, and I thought there'd be a crow/hawk confrontation, but the crows were on a different mission this time. They ignored the hawk and the hawk ignored them. Eventually the hawk stopped its dance and glided away. I felt disappointed; I could have sat there the rest of the afternoon watching how it flew.


Saturday, November 9, 2013

Ready or Not

As you may (or may not know), I'm a runner. Yes, really. I didn't used to think I was runner. I ran, but I didn't run fast. If you were a real runner, you ran really fast. And you won races. I'm not fast and there's a snowball's chance in August that I'd win a race. But I am a runner.

I ran my first marathon in 2002. It was Marine Corps, and I crossed the finish line. It took over five hours, and I had several black toenails for my effort, but I finished. The next year I ran Richmond Marathon and finished in 4:45. That was fun. And it was also my husband's first marathon. In 2003, we ran Marine Corps again and I hated it. Absolutely hated it. I didn't train enough, somewhere around mile 13, I started feeling pain in my knee and hip, and the sports drink didn't agree with my digestive system. And it was hot and humid. It was miserable. All I wanted to do when I finished was cry. I tried to run a bit after that, but my knee was still barking at me. So I stopped running for about four years.

I started running again in 2008 and my husband challenged me to run a 50-miler in 2009, after I turned 50. He had my age wrong, but I accepted his challenge, but for 2008 (when I actually would be 50). I trained and trained and trained and actually ran 50 miles. It took over 12 hours and my legs felt like they were going to fall off, but I did it. And I still didn't think I was a runner.

By that time, my husband had graduated to running 100-mile races and I toyed with the idea of running 100 miles, briefly. However, a couple of people remarked how fast I had become and planted the seed that I could qualify for the Boston Marathon. I'd need to run a qualifying marathon in 4:05:59. So in 2009, I started to train for speed. I chose Steamtown as my qualifying race (it's a fast, downhill course) and that October, ran what's called a BQ (Boston qualifier). Hmmm…maybe I'm a runner after all. But in the process of training, I developed plantar fasciitis and couldn't walk without pain, much less run.

I ran the Boston Marathon, using my patented six-week marathon training program. I knew I couldn't run fast without re-injuring my foot, so ran to have fun, "low fiving" the kids all along the marathon route. I had a blast! But something changed. I lost my motivation after Boston and I haven't run a marathon or an ultra marathon since. I manage to eke out one half marathon a year, remembering about a month before the race that I probably should start to train.

And so it goes. I ran the Diva Half in September with my niece-in-law. It was fun. I ran slow, taking the time to enjoy deep metaphysical conversations with my running partner. One and done! Until some friends I haven't seen in, oh about 30 years, persuaded me to run the Richmond Half Marathon. I thought it would be a piece of cake. I was already trained and would simply have to run a couple of long runs.

Richmond is next weekend, people! I'm lucky (due to the lack of motivation mentioned earlier) if I can run 12 miles in a week. However, I do know that I can run a half marathon cold. It won't be pretty, it most likely will be painful, and I'll run slow and spend the time catching up with my friend. And that time will be priceless.

I thought about my running philosophy on today's run. It's not about the speed anymore, or the distance. It's about the connection. When I start a run, I settle into a pace that is conducive to those deep, metaphysical talks. I'm always scanning my surroundings for birds and other wildlife. The sunrises can be stunning. And there are the surprises: of running down the road and seeing a yearling calf coming towards us and trying to persuade it to turn around to go home (yearling calves are big and strong and determined; that was a calf on a mission!). Of running and seeing a horse and rider crest the hill in front of us and finding ourselves in the middle of swirl of horses and hounds, all looking for the fox ("If you see the fox" they said, "Let us know." Yeah, right…). The conversation ebbs and flows, darting off in one direction, then circling back around and joining back with the original conversation. Sometimes there's no conversation, just the sound of our breathing and footfalls.

So yes,I am a runner. I am a social runner.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Ruminations on Scarcity

Today was another (somewhat) crazy day at work. Sadly, I'll have to work some over the weekend. But I hope to have some time to write a little more eloquently than I've been able to do during the work week.

I've been thinking about the scarcity mindset recently. Why am I talking about scarcity when my life is filled with abundance? I am blessed with two wonderful families (mine and my husband's). We're both gainfully employed and our years of experience in our respective fields mean that (perhaps uncharacteristically these days), we're compensated well. We're both healthy and fit. Our cats (we don't have any children) are mostly healthy and mostly fit. We've managed to build a nice nest egg for retirement (neither of our employers have a pension plan).

So what's with the scarcity mentality?

Fear is a big part. Fear of losing everything if the stock market crashed. Fear of not being able to get a job because we'll be too old. (Don't laugh. We're no longer spring chickens and it's a fact that employers do not like to hire older workers.)

When my husband mentioned that we could both quit our jobs in a year or two, part of me said "Yes! The moment I've been waiting for is finally within sight!" And in the next breath, I said "Holy sh*t! We won't have any money coming in. It will all be going out!" And that's when I started backpedaling. Maybe I'm not ready to retire. Maybe I want only the option to be able to retire. I was so ready to quit my job last year at this time that being five years out from retiring was way too long. Then my role at work changed and things got a little better. I would still prefer to do something other than what I've been doing. But the work stress is greatly reduced and I can survive, just to bring in a paycheck. But is that selling my soul, selling out?

The truth is that we have enough. We have more than enough. Tom is an excellent financial manager. Me, not so much. Perhaps that's where some of my fear originates. And perhaps the scarcity mentality comes from watching my parents struggle and go into debt to raise four children. We never lacked…not food, not love, not clothes, not shelter. My family didn't take fancy vacations or eat out or get the newest fashions or coolest toys. We had enough. But for some reason, once our paychecks stop and we start living off our savings, I feel like we won't be able to do the things we like to do. It's a catch-22: work and not have the time to do what we want to do or not work and not feel like we have the financial resources to do the things we want to do.

I need to dive deeper into my scarcity mentality. And right now, my insight has reached a dead end. Therefore, I'll apologize for this somewhat incoherent post and say good night.

Sweet dreams!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Musings on Life and Death

I'm afraid the title of this post boasts more than it will deliver. Towards the end of a long day at work, I received news that a friend's beloved father passed away today. His passing wasn't unexpected, yet it still was somewhat of a shock. I drove home this evening, tears rolling down my face, grieving for my friend and her loss. I don't do well with Death: I'm uncomfortable, I don't want to intrude on someone's grief, and it brings the mortality of my parents closer. I feel people's grief as if it were my own, which is rather embarrassing, especially when I seem to be more upset than the family of the deceased.

So this is my brief post for today. It's late and I don't feel much like writing. Perhaps I'll post a pithier post tomorrow or over the weekend.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Pure Magic

Today started out a bit rough. I didn't get enough sleep last night (didn't get to bed until after midnight, then the cat woke me up at 5:00 a.m., wanting to be fed). I plodded through the work day, fighting the Excel (and losing) and trying to get caught up (I lost that battle, too). Then I glanced out the window and saw this:
I sent "Sunset alert!" IMs to a couple of coworkers and we spent the next 10 minutes or so watching the sunset evolve.
  These were the dying embers:

I didn't leave work until after 7:00. I was about halfway home when I noticed the crescent moon rising in a deep indigo sky. It was breathtaking! (Unfortunately, the best vantage points came at places where I couldn't stop to take a photo).

And about a mile down the road, I caught a glimpse of a shadowy figure moving along the side of the road. It was a deer, walking down the sidewalk. As I drew close to it, I saw that it was a young buck. He stopped, turned his head, and looked at me. I prayed that he would stay safe and well away from traffic.

It was the perfect end to the day.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Autumnal Beauty

The trees, resplendent in autumnal garb, glow like burnished copper and gold.

I have been stunned by the colors this fall  and have been turning the opening sentence over and over in my mind every day this week on the way to work.  I choose a word, look for a better word, rearrange the sentence, fantasize how I'll use it in casual conversation.  

I'll miss the the riot of color when the leaves are done.  But it will make for safer driving.

Monday, November 4, 2013

A Child's Perspective

Disclaimer: I don't have any children (although my husband and I have 13 nieces and nephews). What follows is based on personal experience, from way too many decades ago.

I think that, as adults, we underestimate the power that our words hold for children (although those who suffered abuse know all too well). Simple comments, made from the adult perspective and quickly forgotten, can affect a child for life.

In 7th grade, I had a history teacher, Mr. Watson, who made history come alive. One day we took a field trip to Carter's Grove, a mid-18th century plantation built on the James River. An archeological dig had just finished and we were given permission to poke about in field and find stuff. We found beautiful pieces of glass, clay pipes, and I found some kind of buckle. I was hooked and decided then and there that I wanted to be an archaeologist (note that from an early age I had always been fascinated by old buildings, old-fashioned clothes, my great-grandmother's button hooks (button-up shoes--how cool is that?!)).

In 8th grade, I had to take earth science and try as I might, I never excelled at it, and never liked it. I had a session with my guidance counselor and as I recall, the discussion revolved around what I wanted to be when I grew up. Of course, I mentioned archaeology and I probably mentioned that I didn't like earth science. The guidance counselor responded that in order to be an archaeologist, I needed to take earth science. I was crushed. Because my child's reasoning translated what she said to this:

I don't like earth science. I want to be an archaeologist. Archaeologists need to have earth science. Ergo, I can't be an archaeologist.

My brother had a similar experience. None of my brothers were good students, but all of them are very intelligent. They just didn't fit in the "sit at your desk and read books" type of education system. My brothers loved being out in the woods, catching snakes and turtles and building forts and such. Carl wanted to take that one step further and become a forest ranger. His guidance counselor essentially told him that he wasn't smart enough. I don't know what words she used, but the discussion revolved around his grades and how they weren't good enough to get into college. End of story. To my knowledge, there weren't any follow-up discussions about what they could work on to improve his grades (I think this was in junior high school, so he still had three or four years to turn around his grades). His dream of being a forest ranger was effectively squashed.

As adults, we know that in order to get from Point A to Point B or Point O or Point Z, we need to take certain steps and that if one step fails, we stop, assess the situation, and try again from a different angle. For children (or at least for children when I was growing up), everything seems to be black and white. You either get good grades and go to college or you get bad grades and take up some vocation.

It worked the same with the arts. In elementary school music, I really wanted to contribute by playing the triangle. I was routinely passed over, probably because the music teacher saw that I had an odd sense of rhythm. To me, that translated as "I'm not good enough." In order to take art as an elective in junior high, I think you had to exhibit some proficiency at drawing. Therefore, I never took art because my drawing wasn't good enough.

I've seen similar things happen to my nieces and nephews. Even with continuing support and encouragement from family and friends, failure often means the end of a dream. I failed, therefore I cannot do this. Perhaps success is seen as being too hard, too painful, too full of sacrifice. Perhaps they, like I sometimes am, are afraid of what will happen if they are successful.

I did not go on to become an archaeologist, but I did get my degree in anthropology. I had dreams of working to change third world development, because at that time, we brought in agricultural technologies that were not congruent with the culture and environment of the countries we were trying to help. I didn't do that either (Reagan put a stop to social sciences grants and there was no way I could fund my own field work). And in strange twist, I ended up in software testing.

The moral of this story is children don't think like we do. When we provide encouragement, we need to be mindful that what we think we said might not be what the child heard us say.

Come to think about it, that advice applies to adults as well.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

On Creativity

Most of my entire life, family and friends (and sometimes strangers) have told me "You're so creative! I wish I could do that!" My early attempts at creativity were, of course, coloring books, and I felt so proud the day I was able to control the crayon well enough to keep the colors within the Bugs Bunny outline (I'm kind of sorry now that I started coloring within the lines). Years later, my great-grandmother (Old Grandma, to distinguish her from Grandma, who lived in the same house) taught me embroidery. And at some point, my mother attempted to teach me to knit. I loved to write stories, too. Back in my high school days, I joined the Society for Creative Anachronism, which necessitated making medieval garb. I fearless plunged in and cut and sewed and embellished, often sewing at the ancient electric Singer, on the floor, operating the foot control with my knee.

As I got older, and probably during college, I felt the creativity dry up, contained within the constructs of academic papers and analysis. I still sat on the floor, sewing medieval costumes, but I stopped writing. Knitting never really stuck with me. I still embroidered (see "sewing medieval costumes"). And I took up spinning and weaving.

Eventually the handwork insinuated itself back into my life (I'm knitting again and sporadically spinning). And within the last year or so, I've explored painting and photography, mostly as a way to inject creativity into my knitting. I started working through The Artist's Way, and for about 4 weeks, wrote Morning Pages almost every morning. I could feel a shift in what I wrote and how I used language. One day, at a loss for what to write, I whined to my Morning Pages journal "[Creative writing] got squashed, too, mostly from college and having to write academic papers. What would I write about--how would I tell a story? Do I have a story in me?" And looking at mixed media piece I had completed a few days earlier:

I began to write:
Once upon a time there was a fish, a beautiful fish with a luxuriant tail and burnished copper scales that flashed as the fish swam. The fish lived in an ocean of turquoise and blue, with an orange sky and pink sun above. And every day the fish would swim to the surface of the ocean and gaze at the orange sky above and wonder what it would be like to swim in the orange sky, like the butterflies dancing over the waves. And the butterflies, every day, would skim the turquoise ocean and see the fish below and wonder what it would be like to soar through the cool, cool water.

One day, the fish could no longer stand the curiosity and swam as fast as a fish could swim and burst out of the turquoise ocean and swam in the clear ocean air toward the pink sun. And the butterflies, seeing the fish so, flew as fast as butterflies could fly and flew down, down, down into the turquoise ocean.

And each saw the world of the other and understood the essence of being a fish and the essence of being a butterfly. And at the end of the day, as the pink sun was setting and the blue moon was rising, the fish with the burnished copy scales landed softly in the turquoise ocean, floating on the surface, curiosity satisfied. And the butterflies swam to the surface and floated next to the fish. And each described the wonders of their travels to foreign places to the other. And each, as they returned to their rightful place in the world, had a new appreciation for all that they had. ~~The End
My reaction to story was "Wow--where did that come from?" As I was writing that story, I got tears in my eyes and wanted to cry, in good way. I am finally finding and reclaiming my artist's voice.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Tale of the Heart Hawk

Some might think that "Heart Hawk" is an odd, awkward name for a blog. But there's a tale behind the name…

Many years ago, measured in decades, I was madly, passionately, over-the-moon in love with a man. The relationship was not a balanced one and our visions of a relationship were diametrically opposed: my ideal was side-by-side with my partner while his was toe-to-toe. But we kept the relationship going and towards the end, spent a magical weekend in the Outer Banks, complete with foxes on the beach at midnight, a sunset on the dunes that seemed to never end, followed by deer coming out to browse on the dunes. On the trip home, I could not stop crying. Looking back, I think my inner self knew that the relationship wouldn't last and was already grieving.

A few months later, I volunteered for a winter bird study at Patuxent Wildlife Refuge. Every Saturday I'd make the trek to Maryland, and would retrieve birds captures in the mist nets and cages. It was fascinating and I loved being able to get so close to the birds. Towards the end of the study, the relationship did end and I was devastated. Actually, "devastated" is too mild a word. The grief and anger was so strong that I'd curl up tight and sob. I'd scream out my grief in the car on the way home from work. I was a total mess.

I spent the night before the last day of the winter bird study crying. The next morning, my eyes were practically swollen shut, my face blotchy from tears. I took one look in the mirror and knew that I was not fit to be seen in public. But something propelled me to the car and I made it to Refuge just as the last round ended. I was the first person to make it to the mist nets and lo and behold! There was a hawk in one of the nets! The project leader carefully extricated the hawk and placed it in the hawk bag. We put the bagged hawk in a cool, dark room so it would stay calm, and processed the rest of the birds. 

After all the birds were safely released, we identified, sexed, and measured the hawk. It was a female Sharp-Shinned. She was magnificent. When it came time to release her, the leader of the study turned me and asked "Would you like to let her go?" She showed me how to hold the hawk, on the legs, above the talons, for it's the talons that will do the most damage, not the beak.

Carefully holding the hawk, I stepped out the door and opened my hand. With strong wing strokes, the hawk rose up and soared into the sky. I kept my eyes on her until she was a mere speck against the sky, and then she was gone. As she flew away, I could feel my heart go with her. It was a defining moment in my life and one that I will always remember.

Fast forward to this year, when I began journeying around the medicine wheel with Pixie Campbell. I decided that, to help me along, I'd get a Zuni fetish of each animal we studied. When I saw the hawk fetish in the title of this blog, I knew it was mine, even though we weren't studying Hawk. The artist is Salvador Romero and he works with found stones.

So the women in the course were talking about their animal totems and guides and I was feeling a bit left out, because in my journeys, nothing happened, no guides showed up to guide me. Then one day on the way to work, on a suburban thoroughfare, a bird rose up from the side of the road and flew next to my car for a short distance, before veering off. It was a Redtail Hawk. Hmmm…

The next week, as I was driving to work, I caught a movement out of the corner of my eye and glanced over. A bird had risen up out of the grass and was flying next to my car. Another hawk!

It was then that I realized that I've had a relationship with Hawk since that day she carried away a piece of my heart. I couldn't hear the message then. I hear it now. I'm learning to observe, listen deeply, and hone my intuition. As Jamie Sams and David Carson say in Medicine Cards:

Hawk has a keen eye and a bold heart, for Hawk flies close to the Light of Grandfather Sun.

Friday, November 1, 2013


Welcome to Heart Hawk, the sister blog of Knitting Libran. I have no set ideas for this blog, other than to document (in a vague sort of way) the transformation I see taking place in my life. The writing might be eloquent, it might be rambling, it might be incoherent. But this is my voice, yes? And it will grow and become stronger as time passes.

My physical voice is rusty. I have so many times been dismissed, especially in the workplace, that I stopped speaking up. Long ago, I stopped singing. My singing voice is off key, tight, unsupported. A memory from childhood stays with me: singing the Battle Hymn of the Republic in church. I loved singing that hymn and belted it out. After the service was over, one of my parents' friends made an offhand comment on my singing. It wasn't a criticism, but I was mortified. I never sang without abandon again. Church choir was small torture; 9th grade chorus was hell. Sight reading? Total failure. I sing sometimes, in the car, alone, always off key. I love tight harmonies and fantasize that I'm able to harmonize like the Wailin' Jennys. Or early Simon and Garfunkel. And then I fall on the floor, laughing, because it's probably not going to happen in this lifetime.

So, this blog, this slice of my life is my gift to myself. It's my gift to you, as well, with the hope that you'll glean some small bit of wisdom from my journey.

Aho. Namaste. Blessings to all.