A Bowl

bowl

Rugged, deep red
A color somewhere
Between blood and chocolate
Imprinted with native stone
Igneous
Ancient
Able
To hold whatever arises
Never turning away
It will contain
The fears
The doubts
The need to take care
To self-care
A curious deep love
Quirky
Steady
Strong

We say to ourselves
I’m always here for you
Or maybe
I’ll be right back
It’s all good
Hold it
Go ahead and look
Unconditional acceptance
Of whatever arises
Whatever mangled thing the cat drags in
To the door of our brave, brave hearts
Or whatever floats up
In the irrigation pond
Of our supposed guilty past
Accept it all
Love it all
Nod and shrug
Gaze and whisper
Hello old friend or
I knew I’d see you again
Hold it
Contain it
Accept it
Not enough?
Maybe. Or just enough
Or more than enough
Too much?
Maybe
Or just the right amount
Or at least…

I am me
I am this
This is an illusion
A breath
A whisper
A thought
A dream…
Then we’re gone…
Or is it eternal?
Existing
With all that is
Deep peace
Deep red
Blood and chocolate
Steady
Bold
Gentle
Ever holding
All that I am
I am
Great I am (HP)
We are one.

All that I am
All that you are
Loves anyway
Loves boldly
Loves…
…easily

Always, k.

December 2014

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Returning

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Returning

Mountain headwaters
Course through spaces
Over rocks and roots
and dirt.
Pull at me
Sweet gravity.
Movement
Space
Time
Dilute away
Milky clouds of
Pollution
Surplus elements.
Refined,
Sustained
As liquid,
Formless
Shaped by environs.
Again,
Earth-force,
Irresistibly
Draw me
To that other place
of origin -
Salty,
Sweet,
Cool,
Primal.
Sometimes
as white, turbulent currents,
Acrid with runoff.
Other times
as dissolved particles
Diluted into
Sweet water
cleaned with
Time
Movement
Lessening of concentration.
Ever ebb and flow.
Wild
Rush
White.
Flat
Calm
Dark.
Absorbed
Evaporated
Contained
into smaller banks.
In the dry expanse,
Meander past
Tan dry grasses
Pungent sage
Warm pumice dirt
Gatherings
of busy beings.
Then expand
Into the immense fluidity and
The westward drive
Towards
a merging.
Just be:
Micro-exist
Macro-exist
Not resist.
In
the cooler place
the potent place
the older place.
Then suddenly
Squeezed
Constricted
Expanded.
More buoyant
Floating
In immense amniotic salt and sand.
Teems with danger and peace.
Tastes of salt and life.
Returning
And Returning
To this communion
To this solitude.
I am this.
I am home.

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Meditations on Hope and Hopelessness

Acorns in the Morning_edited-1

Hope: It’s a good thing, right? Necessary even. To have hope, is to not be discouraged, to imagine something better, to be continually improving personally and imagining better days for others, maybe even for our country. Hope sounds noble. What a worthy endeavor—to create hope, to hold a hopeful place for others. That’s all good, right?

The cancer patient believes, as New Age ideals suggest, that he’s going to live. He just has to desire and believe ENOUGH, say his positive aphorism “I’m getting healthier every day” and voila—he’s a magnet for all his desires to be cancer free. He might even be healed, all via his belief and desire and hope. If healing doesn’t happen, we move on to some other route, but only after the battle and hope is “lost.” Hope is the supposed lifeline we spiritual ones cling to. Then, there’s the woman whose husband is lost at sea. The hours turn into days. The days turn into weeks. Still, she has “hope” and that hope proves she’s a good woman and that she loves her husband, right? We’re taught to hope, and that hope is our salvation and that having hope speaks of our goodness, but is that really true?

Some of us want God to save us, or some substance to ease the pain, or someone to tell us it’s going to be alright. Is it possible we cling to hope, to anesthetize ourselves from our life? Buddhist nun Pema Chodron suggests just that, in her classic book “When Things Fall Apart.”

What is hope really? I wonder if hope is simply imagining some future outcome. It seems hope resides in some other time than now, sometime in the future. Hope is somewhere that is not here, but out there. We believe God will save us; and we try to find rest in an imagined future, which we can never know.

We applaud those who never “lose hope” like hope is something that can be misplaced, then later found under a couch cushion, like loose coins that fell from our pockets.

What if being without hope—say, hope-LESS—was the way to enlightenment and being fully in the present moment, which would allow us to be fully engaged with the person in front of us—and be more fully ourselves. What if being without hope added immeasurably to our joy? Sounds crazy, right? It’s not how we normally think of hope. What if embracing the heart breaking truth of: There is no hope, was actually the path to a more starkly beautiful life—a life that actually exists, rather than one simply wished for?

That cancer patient needs to believe he won’t die—and we need to agree with him. The woman with the missing husband needs to believe he will eventually be found—and we nod in agreement with her too. What would happen if we didn’t agree? What if instead of giving a platitudinous pat, and saying “it’ll all work out,” we helped our dear ones explore the present moment and their own unique, sometimes heart breaking experience, in order to live a deeper, more meaningful experience?

Here’s one for you: If we believe that there is nothing but now, as many us say we do—does hope even exist?

We are all going to die—some sooner than later. Some will not be found—not ever. Everything is NOT going to be okay. There is only NOW.

We are all taught at an early age to crave hope, to believe in the doctrine of hope. We were steeped in it, like soggy tea bags in amber colored hot water, by our families, our society and our religion. Add to that “hope” sounds so enlightened, so positive, so loving and kind. We have to have hope, right? Where would we be without hope?

So, one day I “lost hope.” Like a tub of soapy bath water, it all just drained away, and I sat there in the filmy, emptiness, seeing what I really had—which was still a life, I decided—cold and water logged, but life. I shivered and cried. I pounded my fists like a baby. Then, I stood up, rinsed myself off, and… I started laughing—suddenly grateful. I hadn’t really lost anything after all, I thought. Whatever I had, I still had. Whatever I was afraid of losing, was already gone.

It’s different than cancer, right? Different than being lost at sea. Maybe. All of us hold onto “hope,” a hope that things could be other than what they are; a hope that our salvation resides in a future time, when the other person changes; when circumstances shift; when a health condition is cured. When times get tough, is hope really a lifeline we can to cling to, or be saved by?

What if “abandoning hope” is a good thing? What if instead of “losing the battle” we lay down the sword of our own resistance and pick up instead our glasses—to better see what’s really in front of us? What if by refusing to hope, we gain life, and with it we experience more fully whatever arises—the joy and the pain; the coming together and the ripping apart; the delicious and the distasteful. What if in the process, we learn to love it all?

Maybe tuning into experience and the present moment, or the present person, or the present sensation, and abandoning hope might be the way to become the gift we were created to be, or might be the path to experience the life we didn’t even know we were missing.

Maybe there is no hope. Maybe there is only NOW.

Hopeless in Bend… and loving it all,
Kathryn

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A Prayer to a Friend

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In my mind’s eye I’m imagining.

I imagine you walking and working in peace, growing stronger every day, finding your voice, refining your focus, and working your way towards you own unique balance. Even though your grateful heart naturally flows with gratitude, which is a major part of your strength and your success, your heart is now opening and curious to another type of abundance: margin and steadiness.

I see you standing ready on resilient legs, bare feet grounded on Mother Earth, while your outstretched hands open to receive from your Higher Power. You’re noticing what is for you and what isn’t. Obsolete ideas and deep-rooted perceptions just fall away, like dried mud from your work boots. Stomp your feet. Take a long-bristled scrub brush and whisk away brown, crusty debris. Look! You’ve come so far. Kick up your clean boots, and notice the new lighter way you’re walking in the world. You are free, sweetheart.

What used to make sense, you’re questioning now, and parts of your life that seemed immovable are starting slowly to dislodge, like a spring thaw has brought a warm and gentle wind through your life. You’re now viewing what’s been obscured from your vision—maybe for a long time. You’re sizing up the situation, pondering, then nodding, saying to yourself, “yeah, I’ve got this.”

In spite of it all, you’re embracing all that life is and moving forward: The big wisdom of no way out. You have grown beyond the need for simple comfort and survival—a way out. Instead you reach for the truth of your existence. You know why you’re here, on THIS earth, in THIS place, with THOSE particular beautiful and complicated souls. With open-eyed acceptance, you see all there is to see, in your immediate world, in those around you and in yourself, and again you nod: “yeah, I’ve got this.”

In this life, we rejoice and we grieve. We love and we let go. Sometimes we even momentarily turn away, then with brave hearts, we COULD boldly take another look—humbly view with unwavering directness whatever presents. Baby, it’s like that for all of us. You DO have what it takes. Simply move forward into inspired action, or do it even if you aren’t. You know what you need to do.

To looking anyway. To deep creativity. To inspired action. To doing the right thing even if we don’t feel like it.

A toast: to the days we know why, and to the days we don’t.
Kathryn

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Chop Wood, Carry Water

Zion 2010 159

The slider is open and the yellow-white sun is warming my back and a soft breeze gently rustles my dark, rumpled, half-pinned hair. Sarah’s still asleep in her bed, mouth open, arm flopped over her face. Birds chirp and flutter in the junipers outside my living room window. The big white refrigerator clackety-hums, like it’s not quite as young as it used to be. Cars and planes whoosh and sing their engine noises, like their drivers really do have somewhere they need to be. Maybe they do.

Today, I am looking towards content, and fully into the grateful territory. I have all I need. I have all the kombucha and kimchee I desire. All my body’s parts seems to be in working order. I am as free, as anyone I know. I am loved by a couple of super choice people, and I completely dig them right back. And, here it is: I have been granted THIS day. THIS day seems to matter. Do you ever think, yeah, today is THE day?

I think there’s a discovery to be made… somewhere around here. I know it. All I have to do is find it. First, I have to put on my big girl pants, pat my brave and faltering heart and keep putting one foot in front of the other. Keep earning my stay. Keep tying down those un-tethered, flapping in the wind, ends of… whatever they are ends of. Keep mapping it out. Keep learning. And, keep an eagle eye out, scanning the horizon for what is actually for me.

I think it was the Buddha who said: Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. So, whether it was the Buddha or not, and while I’ve got my eagle eyes scanning the horizon, I will keep getting it ‘going on’ over here–getting the wood stacked for the winter, which I know will come, and hand over hand, drawing up clear, cold water up from my deep, pure well.

Wood and Water,
Love and Lettuce,
k.

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A Road Trip Into The Wallowa’s

Lonely Hill in the Rear View

After nearly six hours on the road, he drove as she lightly napped, one muscled hand on the wheel the other on his own thigh. At the last bend in the highway, he had motored them into the basin and range topography of the Wallowa’s: granite escarpments with the typical deep lake at the base; irrigated prairie weaving into crevasses walled in with moraines—what you’d expect to find in a continental rift, shaped by eons of glacial erosion. She was crazy for geology trivia. She would wonder if the rift was active or not. He kept glancing over, waiting for her to see. Surprises were his specialty.

She began to stir. She stretched her legs straight then relaxed and reached over and felt his belly with her palm, smiling. He switched driving hands, laying a hand in her hair and bending his head down to inhale her sleepiness. He’d done the same with his daughters, since they were babies. Head-scent, he called it.

“We there yet?” she breathed in a sleepy whisper. He only shrugged and smiled. She knew that look. Wait a minute… Where are we? She straightened in her seat and set her eyes on the scene out the front windshield. Her mouth dropped open, wordless. Her eyes went wide. He grinned at her joy. He knew she’d love it. He’d thought of bringing her here over the months they’d been together, even those months where they were “just friends” he’d considered it. He’d not had a friend like her before. Nope. Not like her.

She was looking at him now.

He glanced over. “What?” his lips silently asked.

Her eyes were wet. “So beautiful,” she breathed. “Thank you.”

He nodded: perfect.

Mmmm… Beauties, go see the Wallowas.
Love (and lettuce), Kathryn

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Cooking Humbow and Remembering Home

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For Melvin

恍然大悟

Pronounced in Chinese: huang ran da wu, which means “suddenly see the light or suddenly realize what has happened.”

My nine year-old daughter Sarah and I, on occasion, make humbow. She thinks they are the greatest thing since Jewish Challah, the sweet, egg-rich bread I make on Christmas.

So, we make humbow.

Chinese Humbow.

1. A few cups of white flour—the Chinese like it bleached—utterly consistent.
2. A couple of teaspoons of dry yeast, to leaven.
3. Some granulated sugar, to touch the heart.
4. A dash of salt, for balance and auspicious travel.
5. A splash of sesame oil, because everything is better with sesame. Sesame seeds are considered good luck for the Chinese.
6. And some warm water, both for dissolving the yeast and for making the dough.
7. Pork filling stewed in a soy reduction-barbeque sauce, made ahead of time.

First proof the yeast: liquefy in a quarter cup of warm water and a teaspoon of sugar. When the yeast reveals its vitality with frothy bubbles and a yeasty fragrance, add in the wet and dry ingredients and mix well.

Then knead on a floured board. To knead use flat palms and flatten and roll the gluten-elastic dough, until smooth and springy. If there are children present “pat its bottom” and give it a smooch—like it’s a baby.

Then let rise. This is where I sing “Let it rise. Let it rise” to the Beatles melody “Let it Be” which isn’t very Chinese, but my daughter even at nine understands The Beatles.

Here I take the opportunity to fashion a little science/biology lesson: I tell my nine year-old the yeast eats up the sugar and “farts out” carbon dioxide, which makes it big and airy. She giggles at the idea of the yeast “farting” in our bread.

We smoosh out palm-sized rounds and plop sweet saucy pork into the center of each flattened disk of dough, bring up the edges, pinch them closed and cup them into nice rounded forms.

After a rising, we sit the little morsels in a bamboo steamer. Humidity saturates the air and runs down the windows, as we steam batch after batch.

Humbow, on the way back home.

Be Very Well.
Kathryn

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Going Out to a Healthy Lunch in Bend, Oregon? Salud!

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Looking for a delicious, healthy, unique dining experience right here in Bend? We were looking, and found it: Salud, a raw foods lunch spot, lives right on Franklin, towards town, next to Brook Resources.

My nine year-old daughter and I were scoping out the downtown’s offerings for a little snack while we were waiting for Les Schwab Tires to finish changing out our winter studs for some more kind-to-the-road all season tires.

“Ha! Salud,” I pointed to the restaurant, then glanced down at my little walking companion. “Let’s try it.” She’s always game, so in we went. I vacillated between the falafel wrap and the tacos – all raw, wrapped in delicious, dark green leaves. I could have chosen from a myriad of salads and wraps and desserts, all loaded with nuts, veggies, greens and seeds. I chose the falafel and was pleasantly surprised at the rich and satisfying experience. Sarah had the fruit pie. (She’d eaten her healthy breakfast just an hour before.) Her chosen fruit laden slice sat on a crust fashioned of nuts and dates. The next layer, a nut cream. She smiled quietly and nodded when I asked her if she liked it. No words from the nine year-old = very good.

Give it a try!

Be Very Well,
Kathryn

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Finding the Way Home

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I need to find my way home again. To remember.

I closed my eyes and I was on the boat again—the boat my family motored around the Sound in, when I was a teenager. In that memory I am probably about sixteen, the oldest of three. My youngest brother Mark snores softly beside me, in the queen-sized stateroom, aka cozy-cubby-under-the-stairs. Mom and Dad are asleep in the v-berth. My brother Al, he’s on the tarp covered aft deck. He doesn’t know it, Dad certainly doesn’t know it, but Al’s the lucky one, up there with the morning’s natural light shining on him, and fresh salt air wafting in from the leaks between the snaps of the vinyl tarp. Here, in Mark’s and my little den, I hear the water of Puget Sound lapping at the side of the fiberglass hull. I feel the gentle side to side rocking, which makes some people nauseous, but just lulls me into a satisfied state. We’re likely moored at Roche Harbor on San Juan Island, or maybe Westbeach on Orcas. It doesn’t matter. Here I am, held by the boat, surrounded by my family, rocked like a baby, in the bobbing waves of the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

This I remember.

Be Very Well.
Kathryn

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Learning to Sleep Again

Kathryn at Crater Lake 2013
Sleep is the slimming, happy making, fountain of youth sort of activity. And, for some of us, it’s easily disrupted.

I’ve written about getting good sleep before, but what didn’t occur to me was how sideways I could get and not know that sleep deprivation was the culprit. I knew I hadn’t slept well in a while, but I was getting SOME sleep. It all started with the Flu a month or so ago, then I just kept feeling bad. I thought it was some secondary issue. You know how I figured this out? One night I went to bed feeling vaguely crappy and I didn’t wake up until the morning and I woke feeling decidedly happy!

Some of my symptoms:

Depressed, flat, tired, and yes – seriously whiney
Irritable, aggressive
Spacey
Unable to concentrate
Dizzy
Nauseous
Emotional, weepy
Anxiety
Weight gain
Old and negative

Some ways I make sure I sleep well:

Eat 4 – 5 small meals of protein and veggies with just a little quality grain like quinoa or millet and add some quality fat like avocado.
Ridiculously reduce sugar, caffeine, alcohol and refined foods.
Before bed, take a hot bath in the evening.
Drink a relaxing herbal tea before bed with herbs like mugwart, skullcap, valerian, chamomile.
Get vigorous outdoor exercise. I love to cycle.
Do vigorous yoga in the morning.
Practice gentle yoga in the evening.
Meditate to relax and stem obsessive thinking.
Journal with honesty and candor.
Take responsibility for your part.
Stay well hydrated until an hour an a half before bed.
Use self hypnosis with positive suggestions.
Kick your child out of your bed, no matter how cute she is.
A friend of mine swears making love is the answer.
Reduce stress: make those hard decisions and let go.
And, you got it: Love like crazy!

Sweetest dreams dear ones!
Love, Kathryn

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