#46 Enough


“Have you eaten today?”

Thirty years ago my fellow grad students from mainland China told me this was the greeting used by Chinese citizens after the Cultural Revolution, the equivalent of our current “How are you?”.

Do you have shelter? A good roof over your head and your own bed? Do you have clothing for the elements? Are you warm? At a sketchy time in my life I asked myself such questions in order to keep myself righted and on track. Life was in transition and I was attempting to make my way. It was easy to lose perspective.

As the daily news reports climate disaster warnings along with dire predictions of what we humans have done and are still doing to make our planet uninhabitable, I find myself returning to those questions. Whatever my politics, or yours, we are witnessing a world where the endless pursuit of “goods” has put our planet in peril yet greed is still rampant. The inequality gap widens and widens again. 

What makes so many of us feel the need for so much stuff?

I am finding that a very positive result of aging is the liberation of “you can’t take it with you”. My version of prayer can be summed in one word: enough. Money enough to meet the basic needs of food, warmth, shelter, health care. After that, I am responsible for my thoughts, happy or sad. My choice.

And to “Enough”? Add love, the most difficult “enough” there is.



Note: The chicken was photographed on Vieques, Puerto Rico in the winter of 2015 before Hurricane Maria made “enough” (always a struggle on that poor island) a very tough goal.




#45 Just Life: Women of a Certain Age

Women of a Certain Age.

She may be a bit shy, her voice directed at the floor and coming out so softly you might reference your declining hearing as you ask her to repeat her words. She may deflect most any attempt at compliments headed her way. If asked about current issues she may reply that politics don’t interest her. She is careful with her appearance. Her eyes are often kind, with a hint of having seen it all.

I once had a stereotype of older women, one which incorporated many of these elements. That was before I sat in lifelong learning classes. Traces of those stereotypes still appear here and there but they are being replaced by strength and fierceness. Women who spent lives as lawyers, therapists, teachers, scientists have long spines standing tall, a decided sense of presence, voices made strong from conviction.

Now that women are speaking out, now that “Me, too” and “Time’s Up” are providing megaphones, I’ll wager there is not one amongst us who did not encounter harassment or much worse, who were bypassed for jobs or promotions despite superior performance or credentials, who were groped or demeaned while in public spaces, who were smart or funny or determined yet felt they were flawed and, possibly, unworthy. We grew into adults expected and expecting to be support systems to fathers or husbands, to children and community; the glue holding things together, often without recognition or praise and, most certain of all, without adequate remuneration.

As our heads gray the choice to let it “go natural” has signaled a readiness to fade into invisibility, whether we knew that or not, although regardless of the choice of hair color eventually the lines on our faces or the spots beginning to dot our hands had the same effect. Even force-of-nature elder women are ignored or bypassed. This has been our history.

Breaking news: the steel of aging women is beginning to show. At first it may emerge in the company of other aging women but new book displays and best seller lists will enlighten. In articles and blogs women’s voices, powerful and determined, are emerging almost everywhere. The women whose voices are coming forth are women standing on the hallowed grounds of resilience, strength, and pent-up knowing. While it might seem a subversive or sideline movement, it grows. Each individual is a voice with a clock running on limited time, and each path whacked through once forbidden territory will be taken up by others. Young women coming into their voices out of those “Me, toos”, or from survival of mass shootings, or through climate change demonstrations, will keep coming. The battles over racism, LGBQT and transgender rights, and those emerging from same sex marriage wins, are tributaries leading back to the mother source of gender inequality. Activism builds on the horizon. What is coming is the size of oceans not ponds or lakes, this flow carrying the power of rising water is unstoppable and it will flood the world, balancing and changing what is possible.


#44 Sun Kind of Wonderful

Sun Kind of Wonderful.

Spring on this northern coast is a long, tough haul that tears at my spirit and vexes my body, both desperate for sunlight and warmth. Inland the brown earth warms but in northern coastal latitudes such as Maine’s the vast cold ocean warms more slowly than land. Where contrasting temperatures-land versus water-are greatest-fog rolls in day after endless day. Getting through winter seems easier than slogging through March, April, May, June. 

Every February I fall for my false internal dialogue telling me warmth is coming in a land where spring is (literally) painful or as someone said to me: “…non-existent. We don’t have spring in Maine.”  Elsewhere, temperatures rise, flowers bloom, trees burst out in leaves, but out beside the cold ocean the gray clouds hang in clumps. There are endless days and nights of pounding surf and days of longing for sunlight on bare skin. Mysteriously, brown grass eventually turn green, flowering things bloom, trees get leaves but all of this happens without much warming. When the temperature hits 60 people in shorts and tank tops pop up like human tulips. I get it, 60 degrees means it’s summer. 

Let me grumble. I wasn’t raised in this climate and I brought my memories and expectations of orchards in bloom and soft spring warmth with me when I moved here. Getting through spring’s four months, my former favorite months of the year, is anything but easy. Then again, when the swelter hits farther south, when there is barely breath to be found in the heat and humidity, I’ll be reaching for a sweatshirt as the mid-day tide rolls in, nature’s air conditioning bringing incredibly refreshing air. The ocean cools as slowly as it warms and that blessed warmth lasts late into Fall.

It’s just getting through spring that’s the hard part.

#43 Flow


Rhythm is important. Mine might begin at dawn, if sleep was deep enough and long enough, if I wake with a sense of productive dreams in the night. 

Flow is allowing. Flow comes from being in tune with the rhythm, less in my head, but occupying my psyche. Flow can come out of longing. What needs making? Mending? What chaos could do with a bit of organizing? Paying attention tunes me to my internal rhythm which aligns my energy, allowing focus. Flow feels integral, organic, one thing into another, the ripening bananas on the counter suddenly becoming spontaneous banana bread. Banana Bread? I haven’t made banana bread in years but I was reaching for the flour, getting out the bowls. Then the damp dish towel was in my hands as I tucked away the pans while batter bubbled in the oven.

Action taken without apparent thought can feel so good; resistance is lessened, energy flows when the tension is gone. Flow is alignment not thought. 

Flow feels like getting out of my own way. 


See: Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. New York: Harper & Row, 1990.

# 42 Evidence


Mornings after a storm can offer yet another layer of beauty. The dark cloud bank is receding, moving east over the water, the lines of breaking clouds allowing sun through forming scattered shimmering patches of water.

This morning’s delight is the evidence of shoals, whose locations are marked by breaking white waves far out on the water, waves as white highlighters marking where the underlying seabed rises. Large waves break over these shallows but only when the tide is just right, the moving ebb or flow changing the volume of water over the sea bed lying closer to the surface.

Such large breaking waves, standing out so clearly from the rest of the rolling gray mass, may only be evident in terms of minutes, because tides are constantly moving and the wave break has to be just right. The breaking white lines dance there, not there, then back again, then gone.

The gray sea close to shore is bringing occasional breakers showing off shinning iridescent greens as the waves collapse. Up and down, sound and sight, in irregular rhythms as the biggest waves crash fiercely onto prominent rock outcroppings. The vibrations of the crash shake the house built on the same rock ledge.

It is a morning filled with light, color, and sound with fleeting glimpses of fury. A reason to be up early,


Wikipedia entry for “Shoal”:  


Wikipedia: Wave Shoaling: