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“← →” [merely-a-thought monday]

anna quindlen, in her book a short guide to a happy life, says this: “yogi berra’s advice seems as good as any – when you come to a fork in the road, take it.”

we have arrived. it doesn’t come with directions. no gps. no warranty. no guarantees. no table-of-contents-glossary-index-laden information booklet. nothing. just a choice. well, always a choice.

there’s something amusing about signage that points both ways. there aren’t a lot of things making me giggle right now. but, although we have passed this spot on the trailhead many times, this signpost made me giggle the other day. i am at a crossroads. we are at a crossroads. which way?

“…a dividing line between seeing the world in black and white and in technicolor.” (anna quindlen) i suppose the spectrum is meant to be seen in its entirety. all the colors. not a flattening out of the incandescence of life. i suppose it’s not as scary as it seems. i suppose luminous scrappy will rise up, face the signpost and decide.

it’s all fluid. we are all fragile seedlings bending in the wind. invisible forces, gravity, dark, lost-ness, steadfastness, weightlessness, light, found-ness buffet us and brace us, both. and we orient. we stand at the signpost on the trailhead and choose, knowing there will be another moment when we will choose yet again.

“and whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.” (max ehrmann)

either way. either direction. either path. i just start. we just start. again.

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY


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and we give thanks. [d.r. thursday]

“the north texas food bank distributed more than 600,000 pounds of food for about 25,000 people on saturday.” (cnn.com) thousands of cars were lined up at the mobile food pantry. “54 million people in america face food insecurity during the pandemic.” (aamc.org) and we give thanks.

on november 23, at the noon hour, over 12,175,921 million americans had contracted covid-19. the omnipresent global pandemic has killed 255,958 americans since january 21, 2020. (covid.cdc.gov) with a gaping hole in leadership it continues to rage. and we give thanks.

“of the roughly 20 million americans now receiving some form of unemployment benefits, about half will lose those benefits when two federal programs expire at the end of the year.” (apnews.com) layoffs will likely accelerate in the next weeks and months. and we give thanks.

“gaslighting is deeply rooted in societal structure and social inequalities. women are more likely to experience gaslighting both in professional environments and in their personal lives due to these inequalities.” the term “racial gaslighting” is used “to describe a way of maintaining a pro-white/ anti-black balance in society by labeling those that challenge acts of racism as psychologically abnormal.” “racial gaslighting maintains a pro-white/anti-black balance in society.” “so many of the examples of racial gaslighting we’ve experienced and looked at are embedded in the structure, history and culture of the united states.” (bbc.com) the ugly truths. social injustice. where does a country go from here? and we give thanks.

“the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has taken a toll on the mental health of millions of people around the world.” (who.int) “capsized travel plans, indefinite isolation, panic over scarce re-sources and information overload could be a recipe for unchecked anxiety and feelings of isolation.” (adaa.org) the struggle is real. and we give thanks.

there is so much. so much overwhelm. we look to the stars. we reel, we grieve, we ponder. we wonder how we can withstand any more.

and we are resilient. more than we can ever really know.

we surround our brutalized hearts with the love of family and friends, with memories of times past and wishes for times to come. we keep on keeping on, just as our intrepid ancestors did. we recognize the utter fragility of the moment, the immense journey we are on and the tiny bit of space we actually have on that journey. we stand tall, in the waning sun of late autumn. together. we are grateful. and we give thanks.

read DAVID’s thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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artists and bootstraps. [two artists tuesday]

the bootstraps are getting a good workout.

the flutter in my heart, my racing pulse, uneven breathing.

i tug at the bootstraps.

i don’t have a choice.

i am an artist. bootstraps come with the job. they are inherent. they are undeniable. they are a burden. they are a release. they are imperative.

we cannot hide from the here and now. we cannot hide from the truth, be it light and airy, be it ugly and heavy. we speak to now; we help provide access to truth, to raw emotion, to the basic fundamental sameness – and yet individuality – of humans. to where the rubber meets the road.

we pull up the bootstraps and take a deep breath.

we dive in.

“just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water,” the infamous tagline from the box office movie hit “jaws”. we are shocked by the cold water, the lurking sharks, a symbiotic ocean with underlying danger. we muster on.

the art, the music, the prose, the poetry, the dance gently ease us all into a place of rest, of reassurance. the art, the music, the prose, the poetry, the dance prod us all out of a place of mediocrity, past complacency, past laissez-faire. the art, the music, the prose, the poetry, the dance urge us into thought, into action, revitalize our fire. this is the job of an artist.

i take a breath. try to slow my pulse. feel the slight flutter in my heart. take another deep breath. i re-tie my boots. pace. glance in the mirror. look at my notes. say a quiet prayer. breathe. shift from one foot to the other. breathe. my pulse runs faster. the curtains part. i walk to the apron, bow my gratitude, take the bench. hands on the keys, boom mic inches from me, i begin to speak.

i take a breath. try to slow my pulse. feel the slight flutter in my heart. take another deep breath. i re-tie my boots. pace. glance in the mirror. look at my notes and the score in my hands. say a quiet prayer. breathe. shift from one foot to the other. breathe. my pulse runs faster. the musicians take their places. i walk to the front, sweep across the singers and accompanying instrumentalists with eye contact, appreciation and love, stand in front of the piano. hands on the keys, all at the ready, we begin to speak.

i take a breath. try to slow my pulse. feel the slight flutter in my heart. take another deep breath. i re-tie my boots. i pace. i glance in the mirror. look at my notes. say a quiet prayer. breathe. shift from one foot to the other. breathe. my pulse runs faster. i stand in my boots. i walk to the front, bow my gratitude, nod to the empty bench. hands trembling, no microphone, i am escorted out the exit.

i pull up my bootstraps.

read DAVID’s thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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the fermata. [k.s. friday]

on hold.

the fermata lingers over my days, issuing a pause of length undetermined. the baton is held in the air. there is no downbeat, no pattern of time. just prolonged waiting.

in dr. seuss fashion we wait in the waiting place.

answers are just beyond our grasp, skimming the rim of the atmosphere, invisible to us, ephemeral and flimsy, ever-changing, like trying to capture the flicker of flame from the top of a candle lit in the darkness.

so i just keep waiting. we just keep waiting. our world just keeps waiting.

we sit quietly. we rail at the wind. we speak up. we skirt to the sidelines. we ask questions. we wonder. we are met with silence. we are dissolved. we seek fairness, equity. there is none of that. we step away from the noise. it follows us, snapping at our ankles. we do good work. we seek truth. we are managed, a place of hypocrisy. our country flails. we flail.

and we wait. knowing that, indeed, better will come. knowing that, in some measures, new will come. knowing that, after the fermata, light will come. grieving all we have lost in the process, in the journey, in the waiting place.

we are holding.

read DAVID’s thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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unpredictable beauty. [two artists tuesday]

“sometimes beauty is that unpredictable; a threshold we had never noticed opens, mystery comes alive around us and we realize how the earth is full of concealed beauty.” (john o’donohue)

a simple errand. we needed to pick up some furniture to transport in big red for a friend. destination: ikea.

there is something magical about ikea. we hadn’t been there in ages and were relieved to find few people there and everyone masked properly. vowing to hopefully come back soon and browse a bit, we pulled the boxes off the shelves on our pick list. pushing our cart to the front checkout lines, david, more than once, had to re-focus me away from the enormous displays of product. iphone in hand, we wove our way through the covid-floor-circles-disney-style line, waiting our turn at the cash register.

every where i looked, we were surrounded by interesting color, repeated pattern, textures that begged to be touched. david, more than once, softly called my name from the other side of the pushcart, gently spurring me out of the threshold-of-alive-mystery-of-concealed-beauty, snapping pictures with inordinate joy. “k-dot,” he would quietly prod.

the spatulas called my name too, repeating patterns of red-mama-dear-lips making me smile. spatulas are usually not mysterious creatures, but their color, design, stacking lures you out of ordinariness, opening that threshold, the place for glitter to be seen.

it wasn’t just the spatulas, though. i was victim to the lint rollers, the stainless steel utensil holders, the cork trivets. hidden beauty everywhere. i could feel my sweet momma and poppo cheering me on; they were likewise entranced by ikea.

if safety allows, we will return. there are a few small things on my own pick list i’d like to consider purchasing. but mostly, i just want to wander the aisles with my camera, noticing the unpredictable beauty.

yes, not a bad way to spend any day. noticing the unpredictable beauty.

read DAVID’s thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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collective exhaustion. [d.r. thursday]

utterly exhausted.

we literally get to 4:30 in the afternoon, when the light of standard time is waning and the day is catching up, and we are both utterly exhausted.

we sat on the boulder overlooking the river and bowed our heads down, brows furrowed, squeezing our eyes closed as we listed the reasons why we might be tired. we decided it is collective exhaustion. we simply do not know anyone who is not beyond tired right now.

the last week offered many chances to be outside: warm sun, soft breezes, a rare november last-licks-of-second-summer. every walk helped. every minute in the adirondack chairs helped. every task checked off the never-ending chore list helped. but there was still this weariness, pervasive, inevitable.

in the middle of a raging pandemic, with the stress of keeping oneself and others healthy, with the worry of financial strain, with the chaos of the election, with the political climate and matters of social justice, with work challenges, with isolation away from loved ones and friends, with grief over our individual physical issues – where is the restoration, the rejuvenation?

and so, we tuck in. we lay our head in the crook of our arms and we sigh. we know we are not alone. everywhere, necks are bent low in sheer collapse.

collectively, we all slow down our rapidly-beating hearts and our nervous pulses. collectively, we consciously take a deeper breath. collectively, we will rise back up, unfolding our bodies from fatigue. collectively, we will carry on.

but for right now we are utterly exhausted.

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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it is my hope. [d.r. thursday]

my beloved children,

in the last few years i have become increasingly vocal, doggedly writing about the politics of this nation. i have watched an administration sweep in wearing hatred and division on its sleeve, attempts to undermine and destroy any forward movement this country has made or has desired to make on so many fronts. i have decried their rhetoric, narrative of severing, narrative of bigotry, narrative of self-serving agenda. i have pushed back against the frailty of humankind and against the furthering of prejudice and discrimination of any sort, be it under the heading of race, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, economic status, religion. i have, time and again, asked to uphold what would make the populace safer in a raging pandemic. i have asked for leadership to be responsible, to be truthful, to be one with integrity, to prize virtue. i have raised up climate change and this good earth time and again. i have cited examples of inequality. i have been open and honest about my feelings and opinions, vulnerable to assault by those who do not agree. i have learned that’s ok.

in the last few years i have become increasingly vocal, doggedly writing about the evanescence of time, the impermanence of this very life, the beauty that rises with the sun. i have pointed to moments of joy, moments of devastating grief, moments of sheer bliss, moments to memorize. i have spoken of and to the ocean and of and to the top of mountains. i have drawn pictures in the sand and let the cool waters of high elevation streams run through my hands. i have described treasured moments with you, my children, with family, with friends, with my husband. i have been aware of how fleeting time is as it races on. i have learned that life is simply that – learning.

in this time it is my hope that this country will gather its resources into its national quiver and will lead forward with arrows of love and compassion. it is my hope that this country, like committed and passionately dedicated parents holding newborn life, will embrace each and every one of its citizens, holding and blanketing them with reassurance, with protection, with a promise of doing better. it is my hope that this country will offer to you – its children and its children’s children and its children’s children’s children – new times of peace, new times of equity, new times of profound and wise knowledge, new times of opportunity, new times of kindness, and that this will surely sweep across the land from the redwood forest to the gulf stream waters, from sea to shining sea.

it is my hope that you both, my amazing and brilliant daughter and my amazing and brilliant son, deep in your adventurous souls, will feel the freedom promised you in the universe. it is my hope that you speak your truth, that you speak for, that you speak against, that you speak up, that you speak out. it is my hope that you feel affirmed in your lives, strong and powerful, fiercely dedicated to every breath, tenacious, and both gently kind and profoundly vehement in the demand for justice and liberty. it is my hope that you feel unconditionally loved and cherished: by me, by partners, by family and friends, by this nation, by this very good earth. it is my hope that in the moments you take a deep breath and exhale you know that your presence in this universe is light itself and is truly making a difference…forever.

i love you,

mom.

***

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read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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she led us up this mountain. [two artists tuesday]

she led us up this mountain. my beautiful daughter, surefooted and strong, an exceptional guide, stopped in high altitude to allow me to catch my breath, to sip water. i wondered where the lake was…each step i took. but, following her, i stopped wondering if i would make it there. the confidence she exuded was both palpable and contagious. and so it was both thrilling and challenging to be high on independence pass, starting at the trailhead just a bit down the road from the summit.

she led us up this mountain and everything else fell away. far below us was the gravel lot, the highway. far below us was the truck that would soon take us away from these mountains, this heart-place. far below us were thoughts of leaving, thoughts of anything back home, thoughts of the pandemic and the election and real life and the worries embedded in all of that.

she led us up this mountain and we gained more than elevation as we trekked, our footfalls on the trail lost in the sound of the wind. we gazed around us, first below the treeline, then above, with fir and pine our hosts, the quaking golden aspen far below, unseen. the creek punctuated our thoughts and – admittedly, my puffing breath – tufts from mountain goats decorated thick branchy and leafless bushes.

she led us up this mountain and the less air i had left, the more it filled me. i wanted to hold onto every last second. i wanted to stand high on this mountain, next to this stunning pristine lake with my beloved daughter, and just weep. my heart needed this hike. my soul needed this hike. my body needed this hike. every other hike we had taken over our joyous days in these colorado mountains had led us to this hike. i was exhausted and cold and invigorated, hot-flashing and weak-kneed. and so, so grateful.

because mostly? because she led us up this mountain.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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i, a tiny person. [two artists tuesday]

vast.

tiny.

i, a tiny person in this vast universe, stood on independence pass, surrounded by the collegiate peaks and together with my husband and daughter and, at the trail high-lake destination, my panting breath, swept out of my lungs, slowed to tears.

i, a tiny person in this vast universe, sat on a log that crossed a cold mountain stream, under the shadow of a bigger mountain above us and in the grace of the sun streaming through the trees and my breath slowed, cleansing my heart.

i, a tiny person in this vast universe, gazed at verdant evergreens and golden willowy tall aspens, my mind aware of the expanse of time they had lived in such places, my breath a mere few seconds in comparison, for they have lived – and will live – well beyond any years i am granted on this earth.

i, a tiny person in this vast universe, hiked miles in elevation, my breath both aiding me and slowing me down, forcing me to stop, to look around, to be encircled by the air of the rockies, the snow of early freshness, the closer exquisitely warm sun, the scent of both a pine forest and autumn leaves moldering on the ground.

i, a tiny person in this vast universe, my feet grounded on the edge of the royal gorge canyon wall, my heart teetering on thoughts of the insignificance of my being and the very significance of my being, my breath – in and out.

i, a tiny person in this vast universe, in this time in the high mountains, felt both held and freed. love for my beloveds, belief in the moment-right-now, an overwhelming sense of a bigger picture clear, in which my role is like that of a leaf falling to the forest floor, contributing a tiny bit to the ecosystem that will endure, prevailing past my own time, making a tiny difference.

read DAVID’s thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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in the middle and in the end. [k.s. friday]

were there nothing else to do, no other responsibilities, no outstanding work or chores, no cleaning or laundry or errands, no bills to pay, calls to make, jobs to seek, piles to clear, messes to sort, i could sit and stare at a fire for hours.

it’s easier to evade the thoughts that permeate your worried mind with the heat of fire on your face. it’s easier to stop strategizing around, through, beyond while watching the dance of contained flames. it’s easier to be lulled into all-is-well thinking, sinking into the adirondack chair, moonlight on your brow.

ephemeral moments – the good ones and the bad ones – slip by, each temporary, each a transitory arc, evaporating, evaporating.

yet, our eagle-focus on certain moments, certain actions, certain words, certain emotions, batters us with living, re-living, re-living, re-living.

we obsess. and in a time when there is so much to obsess about, it is none too easy to avoid.

the fire burns through the wood, despite its flammability. it does not choose only wood that is most flammable. with all the different wood in the firepit, it ignites, turning all into ash, intangible and evanescent.

we might do well to toss moments these days into a great cauldron, touch a match to it and light it. perhaps out of that might arise a bit of wisdom, a bit of certainty in the uncertainty, a bit of comfort. maybe living in the recognition it will vaporize would remind us of transience, the impermanence of it all, the pro tempore of any given heated moment, ultimately, the importance of lingering in any goodness we experience, of actually being goodness.

perhaps we should prioritize staring at the firepit. it may serve as a gentle reminder.

in the middle the fire is hot. in the end ash will be ash.

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read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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