What is it to be Curious?

This post is part of a series on 12 Words. Curiosity is my word for January.

How do I start to explore the word for the month?

A logical place to start seems to be the dictionary.

The first dictionary definition of Curious that I came across surprised me, in its negative connotation: “Interested in what is not one’s own business.” That was enough to make me give up dictionaries as a starting place in this process.

Curiosity has always been a very positive concept for me.

There we other definitions of course, but I realized that what matters with the 12 Words is that I cultivate my own understanding of the word, and what it means to “be” that energy in the world.

So I thanked the dictionary and went on my way, committed to discovering my own personal meaning and value of Curiosity.

For me, Curiosity is opening myself to wonder. It is an invitation to clear decks and look at something in a completely new way.

It’s also with a positive expectation that I look at something with Curiosity. I’m expecting to find something surprising and wonderful.

Curiosity is about being alive and awake, so there’s a vitality about it, a new-ness of life.

But most of all it is about presence: attention and eager anticipation. It is welcoming of life.

What is Curiosity for you?

My 12 Words for 2018

There are a lot of people who find value in having a word (or words) to guide them throughout the year. They see it as a guiding light, or an intention, or a mantra to help them stay focused on what matters.

They discover their word by remaining open and listening to their inner guidance. It is something that comes to them, rather than something that they figure out.

In November, when I opened to the possibility of a word or words for 2018, twelve words flowed out from within. This has never happened to me, so I paid attention to it.

What came to me about this was that these words are qualities of being that I would like to embody. They are how I want to be in the world, the spirit or energy that I want to bring through my presence, or how I want to “show up,” during the next phase of my life.

As I explored this possibility, I felt as if a gift had been bestowed upon me. What a fun thing to explore in 2018!

Throughout November and December, my understanding of this idea deepened.

These are the questions I would hold as I explored each word:

  • What is it, for me?
  • How do I embody the energy of it?
  • How do I live it, in the world?
  • How will I keep it alive, in my life?

It was certainly convenient that there were 12 words, one for each month of the year.

The words changed during December. Four words “left” and four new ones came in.

They spread themselves into the months, and their order changed three times before January.

Here are the words and how they have now settled into the months (subject to change, of course):

  • January: Curiosity
  • February: Vitality
  • March: Eagerness
  • April: Receptivity
  • May: Engagement
  • June: Expansion
  • July: Flow
  • August: Intention
  • September: Generosity
  • October: Renewal
  • November: Whole-heartedness
  • December: Love

I’m really excited about this idea. It feels like a delightful adventure.

What is your word (or words) for 2018?

Inbetween Time

This morning, the woods are alive with large flocks of migrating Robins and Red-Winged Blackbirds. Their song fills the air, and it lifts my spirits, after months of quiet mornings.

We are in the Inbetween Time again, as the seasons begin to transition from Winter into Spring. One day there is snow, and the next, the sun is warming the earth and the bulbs are beginning to break through frozen soil.

There is a going back and forth, in these Inbetween Times.

Sometimes there is a going back and forth for us in our lives, when we are going through transitions, and this is OK, as we begin to grow in the fullness of who we are becoming.

Where, in your life, are you in the Inbetween Time?

Choosing to Be

480 frozen fog

I’m not going to go into the politics of the American presidential election. That was yesterday.

Today, I get to choose something else.

I get to choose who to be in all of this.

For me, this is a call to live a conscious life even more, and to choose love, even more.

My job is, and always has been, to do the best that I can do to live consciously, and to choose love over fear, anger, and hatred.

My sense of well-being is and always has been an inside job.

No one and no circumstance can take that away from me.

If I let them take it away, I am being a victim, rather than being the resourceful person that I was born to be.

Viktor Frankl reminds us of this, from the voice of one who was in a concentration camp in World War II. He said that all freedoms can be taken away from us, except the freedom to choose our attitude and our way.

I am not saying this is always easy. I’m saying I get to choose.

I am also not saying that I am going to deny my feelings. I am saying that I am going to acknowledge them and feel them, and then I am going to move onto a place where I can do some good.

I can do some good by choosing to be a loving person.

This may not be every person’s path, but it is my path.

It is who I choose to be.

Who do you choose to be?

What is your right path?

When You Need a Bigger Bus


I often think of the metaphor of a bus when I think about how I am being in the world, and about my life.

“Who’s driving my bus?” Is it the scared little kid, or the empowered, resourceful adult? I welcome all “inner parts” to be on the bus, but some of them…well, I don’t want them driving the bus.

Then there is the question of how much I’m carrying on my bus. You know…beliefs, assumptions, physical stuff.

The bus above is a Hay Bus. It is a converted School Bus that a farm in Marengo uses to deliver very large loads of hay to local farms, for horse and cattle feed.

When I saw it, I knew I was given a gift: When you need a bigger bus, it’s time to look at how much you’re carrying around. so the question came to me, for me: What can I offload from my bus, that I no longer need to carry around?

And I offer the question to you, too: What can you offload?

The Inbetween Time


Today it is cool, rainy, and I am shivering in the damp as I watch the leaves being blown off the trees. Yesterday was a cool sunny day, with a crisp, blue sky. The day before that, a hot, muggy wall of heat enveloped me as I walked out of the house.

We are in a transition from Summer to Fall.

We are in The Inbetween Time.

Every year, when we move into this transition time from Summer to Fall, I feel ambivalent, and, at first, a little disoriented. It always seems to me like it arrives suddenly, when I wasn’t looking.

I find myself wanting to hold onto the long days of summer, and the bright colors of growth.

I can feel the resistance in me as I am dragged into shorter days and brisk winds.

In The Inbetween Time, we are living some of the old, even though we know it is being dismantled. We can see and feel some of the promise of the new, but the details aren’t clear or sustained. The new is a wisp, rather than something we can hold onto yet.

In this time, if I let it,  Nature is teaching me how to be with uncertainty and change, how to be an explorer and an adventurer, and how to come to life with openness and curiosity.

The Inbetween Time is a powerful space of creative potential, if I can let go what I expect and where I think I am going, and instead be open to surprises and the gifts of the new season.

Most of all, I want to feel grateful for the gifts of absolute uncertainty and surprise that The Inbetween Time brings.

I want make space for what is coming, even though I don’t know what it is yet. In the last few weeks, I’ve had an instinct to clear my office, and my mind, for new possibilities.

For me, it takes faith to welcome the abyss, and to let the unknowing and the space just be, until clarity begins to form. I have to hold myself back from filling the space with what I know, in order to leave room for the unexpected. Nature gives me this faith, because Nature is a model of rhythms and cycles.

The Inbetween Time is a threshold, a suspension. It is a luminous time of transition, between what we know and what we don’t.

How do you want to be, in The Inbetween Time?

Choosing Who We Want to Be (In a Tough Circumstance, Over Which We Have No Control)

harper picnic blanket

Harper and I had a bit of a traumatic thing happen to us on our evening walk a few days ago.

I was walking him on the road that we walk at least twice a day, almost every day of the year, when two loose seventy-pound dogs charged us and attacked him. I don’t know how long it lasted; time felt suspended to me. Some seconds, or a couple of minutes perhaps.

I yelled at the dogs. I implored the people responsible for the dogs, who were standing in their driveway, to call the dogs off. They stood by and did nothing.

I finally must have summoned up enough Alpha Dog energy to scare the dogs, and they backed off, but not before they sank their teeth into Harper in a few places.

Before I go any further, Harper is going to be fine, which is a miracle. He got away with a deep puncture wound and some soft tissue damage. He has very thick fur, and that helped him. He couldn’t get up or walk the next morning, but the vet’s check-up revealed nothing more serious, and he just needed an antibiotic and some pain meds. He’s already on the mend, albeit a bit skittish about going out.

As I process the event, it has been the gift of a big learning for me.

I thought: What do I do with this? My dog was attacked, and could have been killed. I could have been injured. The people responsible did nothing to control the dogs or to help us.

There are so many times in our lives when something happens to us that we have no control over, and that doesn’t feel fair or right. Countless people have experienced much tougher things than I did the other night.

At first I was scared and furious. My friends were asking me what I was going to do; would I report the incident? Or speak to the people responsible for the dogs?

Then I meditated. A lot. Meditation is my go-to for honoring the fear and anger, but eventually being able to let them go. I want to respect my emotions; they are part of my humanity. But if I remain in outrage or anger, those people and those dogs have hijacked everything that matters to me. Then I am saying “no” to life, rather than “yes”.

I asked myself what matters now. Here’s what matters:
●    That I love Harper through this.
●    That I do as much as I can to keep him safe.
●    That I restore my peace of mind.

It was pretty clear immediately that I couldn’t do those things from a mind that was addled with fear and judgement and outrage.

So I kept meditating, and I asked myself my governing question: Who do I want to be, here?

Viktor Frankl said: “Man’s last freedom is to choose his attitude and his way.” He was writing in the 1940’s, about his experience of living in a concentration camp.

I get to choose who I want to be here.

I get to choose who I want to be in any circumstance, even (or maybe, especially) in those situations that I wouldn’t choose or wouldn’t want or that seem unfair.

I choose to be peaceful. I choose to be grateful. I want to be loving and clear.

When I find myself drifting off of that “home base,” I’ll meditate, as a first step to restoring my inner peace. I’ll focus my attention on what I can genuinely appreciate. Then, love and clarity are more possible.

This might be a lot more difficult if Harper had been more seriously injured, but the principles are the same. I’ve been given an invitation to continue to release my fear, frustration, and outrage, and to return to my inner feeling of well-being, from which I can be loving and clear.

I’m not going to speak to the people with the dogs. In my clarity of mind, I can see that they don’t feel responsible for the dogs, and they have absolutely no interest in controlling them. If they had, they would have called the dogs off.

I’ll speak to my friends in the neighborhood to let them know that there are some unstable dogs around, so they can be alert.

I’ll carry pepper spray, to protect myself and Harper in the case of further incidents.

And, I’ll change our walking route, to avoid contact with those people and those dogs.

At first, I didn’t know what to do, but when I had restored my peace of mind, I knew what was right, for me. I remembered to ask myself: What matters now? Who do I want to be? The answers to those questions were my guides.

What matters now?
Who do you want to be?

Water Under the Bridge

bridge zubiri

I haven’t written on the blog for ages. I made a commitment to myself a year or so ago that I would only share my words when I am inspired to share, rather than writing just because I haven’t written in a while.

My commitment is to be open and receptive, and what comes will come in its own timing. I wish for all of us that we live our lives in the flow, rather than pushing against it.

Speaking of flow, there’s been a lot of water under the bridge since I last wrote.

Cinn and Hamilton

Our dog Cinny passed away, after 12 years of fun, frolic, and feistiness with us. We feel so blessed that she was such a big part of our lives for so long. This picture is of Cinn with one of her favorite toys, Hamilton. Be free, sweet Cinnamon; we miss you every single day.

mandala rose

I created and led an experiential workshop called Bringing the Sacred into Everyday Life. Eight of us gathered to spend five mornings together, creating altars, walking the labyrinth, drawing mandalas, communing with nature, and painting blessing flags. It was a rich week of fun, deep sharing, and profound learning.

2016 pilgimage

I have begun another virtual pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago in Northern Spain. I feel called to be a pilgrim when I find myself in Not Knowing Land, in various aspects of my life. I have done two other virtual pilgrimages in the last five years, one on the Camino (the same route), and one to Ireland.

Being on a pilgrimage helps me remember that it is OK to Not Know, that sometimes Not Knowing is the most powerful place to be, and that all we really need to know is our next step.

At its essence, a pilgrimage is an inner journey, so it is not necessary that we actually set foot out our doors (although a real pilgrimage walk is a very powerful and luminous experience; ask anyone who’s done it).

I believe that our lives are pilgrimages, when lived consciously and with intention.

When I look back at the last few months, what I see is my commitment to pay attention to that which is precious in my life.

What is the water that has passed under your bridge, in the last 3 months?

What is precious to you?

What do you want to pay attention to?

Welcome Them All

winter cardinal

The Northern Cardinals are in their nesting season right now.

They are famous for aggressively defending their territories during nesting season.

Today, a cardinal has posted itself outside one of our windows, and it keeps flying right up to the window, and attacking its reflection. It has mistakenly seen its own reflection as a threat, an intruder.

This is life, reflecting to me, what I do sometimes. When sadness, anxiety, frustration come up, from within, I sometimes see them as intruders, and I want to attack and banish them, to force them out.

If you have never read the poem The Guest House, by Rumi, you can see it here. It is definitely worth a read.

Rumi poetically describes how, every morning, there is a new arrival.

And that we might “meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.”

Invite them in? How radical would that be?

He goes on to say that we could choose to “be grateful for whatever comes.Because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.”

I happen to agree with Rumi, that all of our emotions are important messengers, and that they have something important to tell us. It won’t serve us to dwell on them, but what if we welcome them, as honored guests, and find out the reason for their visit?

The cardinal wore itself out today, knocking on the window, before I could get out there to cover the window with paper. It is exhausting to fight ourselves.

I’m grateful for the visit from the cardinal today, because it reminds me how important it is to be kind and compassionate with myself, and to welcome all parts of myself, as if they are important guests. And, how important it is to give up the inner fight. It’s exhausting, and I can choose to drop the rope.

What would you like to welcome in, today?







raindrop circle one big

It’s a rainy day, and I am noticing the beautiful, circular ripples that the raindrops are causing on the surface of the pond.

It is like a drop of energy hits the surface of the water, and then it radiates out in circles.

This makes me think about how important it is for me to always be, as much as I can, the person that I want to be in my daily life.

I may think that it doesn’t make a difference, or that it isn’t worth paying attention to, but I realize, when I look at these ripples, that my energy, my intention, my attitude, goes out in ripples, just like these ripples on the pond.

When I’m snarky, that’s what goes out. When I’m loving, that’s what goes out. It is truly as simple as that.

It is a miracle, really, that we get to choose.

What ripples do you want to send out today?




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