The Gift of Wood Smoke

full moon wood smoke

I walked out into the crisp cold Winter night and smelled the wood smoke. Our neighbors heat with wood, and when the wind is in the right direction, the scent of wood smoke drifts over to our house.

The smell of wood smoke says Cozy to me. It says Warm. It says Home.

In the fall, when I first smell wood smoke, it reminds me that Winter is not far off, and that I need to start doing all the things we do to prepare for Winter. I close down the screened porch, and batten down the hatches. I take down and clean the bird houses. I dig out the snow shovels and put away all the garden tools.

Now, the smell of wood smoke is an invitation to savor Winter. I want to savor the cold crisp days and the cozy container of home.

I want to enjoy the rhythm of Winter. It is a slower pace, and sometimes in Winter, I give myself permission for a slower pace.

I like to pay attention to the rhythms of nature. I feel like there is a lot of wisdom in the ebbs and flows of natural rhythms.

Winter is an ebb, even though it can have a fierce power, Winter is an ebb that is preparing for the flow of Springtime.

As I smell the wood smoke, I realize that something deep inside of me still needs the rest, the pulling back, the slower pace and rhythm of Winter.

I appreciate this time. I need to savor it, before the season turns to a busier pace and rhythm.

I am asking myself: What still needs doing in this time of slower rhythm?

And I ask you, too: What do you still want to do, in the quieter pace of Winter?


Stillness and Waiting

calm night

Stillness in Winter feels different to me than in any other season. It is deeper somehow.

Everything is resting.

Everything is waiting.

I have that feeling of dormancy, a very purposeful and productive waiting.

Even the questions aren’t being answered.

I am called to just be in the stillness, to somehow just be in the stillness and the calm.

Nature knows when it is time to work, and when it is time to rest.

Something within me knows too.

What is it time for, for you?



Soft Soaking Rain

soft soaking rain fave

The rain has been falling steadily all day.

I get back from my long walk and I am soaked.

All day, before my walk, I have felt closed in, wrapped in a dark, grey sky.

I have felt challenged by the rainy day. Dark, wet days dampen my spirits.

When I was a kid, rainy days were play days. I would set up a tent with a blanket and a card table, and I would hide inside and sequester myself from the world all day.

I created Rainy Day Kits full of my favorite reading and art supplies, and I would spend the day creating stuff and reading.

I looked forward to rainy days.

Now I am wondering: what is the opportunity in rainy days? What would be different if I went with the natural invitation and rhythm of a rainy day?

Rather than a dark, rainy day being a suppression of energy, it might be about relaxing into a different kind of energy.

All around us in there are cycles in nature: inward and outward, waning and waxing, incubation and growth.

The adult version of the kid rainy play day would be an interior day, a closed-in day, a day with some time for some reflection, and play, and nourishment.

What if I trusted these cycles, and went with them?

I’m curious about what effect it would have on my work, if I honored the natural cycles of waxing and waning.

What are rainy days inviting you to?

Being Visionless


Today is a very mild day, for deep winter, and there’s a thick fog.

I can’t see my neighbor’s house or driveway, and the detail on all the trees has faded into a blur.

The damp is penetrating.

This is the latest in a number of grey, cloudy, colorless days. Nature is resting.

When it is like this, my vision is obscured. I can’t see much, and what I can see is blurred. Much of what I can see is a dull monotone.

This is a good reflection of how I am feeling: very quiet, and like it is time to rest.

I can’t see much in the way of a vision for my business right now. It feels like it is growing and changing, but the details are unformed at the moment.

As a professional coach, I live and work in a world that says that we “must” have a vision. Part of what I do as a coach is help my clients clarify their life and work visions.

As an owner of my own business, I am told by business professionals that it is essential to have a vision, for my business, for content that I publish, for social media engagement, and for a whole host of other things.

I agree that it is desirable to have a vision. Visions can be compelling and motivating.

However, sometimes there isn’t a vision to be seen or clarified. Sometimes the vision isn’t ready to be revealed yet. Like the dense fog outside, in time, clarity will re-emerge. What is called for in these times is patience.

Wisdom tells me that visions aren’t made; they reveal themselves from our deeper wisdom.

Whatever vision is needed for me will emerge when it is needed, from a space of listening within.

My challenge is to refrain from pushing on it. I don’t like being in fog, literal or metaphoric. I often try to do something to get out of it.

The fog is the wisdom, today. It’s telling me that while things are unclear in the moment, in good time, the fog will lift, and what I need to know will become clear.

What is foggy for you right now? What if you waited until the fog lifts?



Playing Hide and Seek with the Moon

hide and seek moon one

Harper and I are again walking at dusk. It is a mild Winter night, around 20 degrees F, snowing lightly and softly. I am so grateful for walking again, after a spell of brutally cold weather which was not fit for woman nor beast.

We get to a forested area, and when I look up, an almost-full moon is peeking out from some clouds. It is visible just over the top of the trees.

I can see that it is almost full, and I long to get another glimpse of it, but the clouds come in and cover it up.

Harper and I continue. It is such a nice night, that we walk longer and farther than I had expected we would. The walk is giving my mind an opportunity to clear, and to rest. All I need do for right now is to steer us safely through the snow.

The moon peeks out from the clouds just briefly as we walk through the yard of the long-ago closed-school.  The yard is blessedly desolate during this time of the year.

We walk down a street with a few houses, and they are quiet, too.

The more I walk, the more I want to walk, but it is getting dark, and I’ve forgotten the flashlight, so we turn towards home.

As we do, I turn to look behind us, to the East, and there is the moon, full, in all its glory. The thick clouds have left the sky. It is absolutely still, and I stop to take in the beauty of the scene. My soul craves this stillness.

hide and seek two

The full moon reminds me of the beauty in the cycles in nature. There is fullness and emptiness, or darkness. There is waxing and waning. Nature is always going through cycles.

We all also go through these cycles, even if they may not be as clearly noticeable as the phases of the moon. Our own creativity waxes and wanes. Our spirits go through periods of feeling full, and feeling empty or dark.

The moon helps me remember that no matter where I am in the cycle, change and transformation is afoot. Heraclitus said “The only constant is change.”

What is changing in your life?

The Soft Quiet of Dusk

dusk too

Harper and I were out late in the day again today. It was one of those days when time got away from me, and before I realized it, the sun had set. We set off in the dusk.

As we walked by our neighbor’s farm, I could feel the light closing in on us. It was like there was a soft, gentle curtain falling.

Our field of vision narrowed, and then a couple of lights came on.

The trees that are so familiar became unknown figures and shapes.

Everything became still, as if on cue.

It felt like time slowed down.

I used to try to finish our walk while it was still light, but then I realized that I love being out at dusk. There is a particular quality of time and light at dusk.

Dusk is an ending.

What is possible in endings?

We continued to walk in the soft light of dusk. I felt the urgency of the day fall away. All of those things that seemed so important to tend to earlier suddenly lost their pull on me.

Maybe dusk is an invitation to let go of some of the hurried quality and urgency of the day, and to let things be complete, for now, to be taken up again when the light returns.

Our electrical and digital world offers us far more choices about when we get our work done, but in that flexibility, we lose the natural boundaries of the day that existed before.

I think, for me, the key is to come back to the wisdom in my body. This wisdom knows a deeper rhythm than that which is determined by calendars and computers.

That wisdom knows what rhythm is organic for me.

Dusk is clearly a transition time in the day. It is a choice point. It is an invitation to bring myself to full presence, and to ask and discern: What is ending, and what is beginning?

What is ending, and what is beginning, for you?



Day Ending

blue spruce birds

I often walk by a stand of Blue Spruce at the end of the day. It’s on the path where Harper and I take our evening walk.

At the end of the day, there are always Northern Cardinals and Chickadees settling in to roost for the night in the shelter of these trees.

I’m comforted by the presence of these birds as I walk by their roost. I have an all-is-well-with-the-world feeling as I watch them bed down for the night.

Nature has a rhythm to it, a comfortable cadence that sustains and nourishes life.

The settling in of the birds in these trees signals the end of the day. It reflects the quiet, grounding quality of dusk.

Nature is wrapping up the activity of the day and preparing itself for rest.

At dusk, activity concludes for these birds, and it is time to nurture and restore. They are following their innate knowing of what serves their well-being.

My daily rhythm is dictated by commitment and responsibility. I let myself be governed by clocks and schedules.

Tonight, I stop and watch the birds. I sense the  winding down of their energy as they shift into night. I feel the wisdom of these cycles of activity and rest, and I know that this is a message meant for me.

Just for tonight, I will shift my energy into the transition of dusk when I get home. I will settle in to rest and rejuvenation. I will respect the natural cycle of life. This is the gift that these birds have given me.

What is your body and your wisdom telling you?






ripples too

I was standing at the shore of the pond down by the road. The wind was strong, intermittent and capricious. It played with the surface of the pond, like it was teasing the water.

One moment the ripples from the wind showed up close to the shore near me. With the next gust, the ripples were in the center of the pond. A moment later, the ripples danced in a spot way across on the far shore.

I stood and watched the pond for quite a while. I played a game with the wind, trying to guess where the wind would hit the surface of the pond next. The wind always won.

I thought about the ripples that we make in the world by who we choose to be. We have an opportunity to choose the energy that we bring to every interaction.

We are like the wind, creating ripple effects in others and in our world by how we show up to our actions and experiences.

And, like the wind on the pond, we don’t always know what effect our ripples will have. But we can choose what energy we are putting out there.

Yesterday, a friend told me that she still found comfort in something that I had shared in a workshop that we had both attended five years ago. I didn’t even remember saying it. I had no idea that something that I considered so minor had affected her in such a positive and long-lasting way. It was a ripple that I might never have known about.

What are the ripples that you send out into the world?






Rhythms of Nature

winter 2015 one

Today was an inside day. I had a huge number of chores to do, and – very unusually – we had some winter sun. As the sun streamed through the windows on the south side of the house, it energized me.

I was like the Energizer Bunny for a few hours.

I took a walk in the morning, but after that, I was sequestered inside the house for the rest of the day. By this nightfall, I was feeling a little off balance. I realized that I had lost touch with the rhythms of nature. This organic ebb and flow of time in the day is what usually sets the rhythm for my day.

In the winter, I awaken around sunrise, so I join with nature in awakening to a new day.

At midday, when the sun is at its zenith, I usually take a break from my work and walk the dogs. This gives me a sense of the fullness of the day, and of things coming to fruition. Energy is heightened, and nature is busy.

Just before sunset, I walk the dogs again, so that I am in touch with the ending of the day, when nature has a sense of closure for the day. Time feels like it is slowing down, and closing in, as the darkness falls.

More and more, I am allowing myself to align with this natural daily rhythm. This feels really good to me, and very respectful of my physical nature. I have a sense of going with the flow when I give this to myself.

As I went out at dusk tonight, there was a doe in the yard. When she saw my dog Cinnamon, she bounded off into the woods.

I envy the animals sometimes, because I feel like they follow a more natural rhythm than we humans do. In winter, my body wants to slow down at sunset, but I often push on. I’ve been trained to work later than 4:30 pm, and I hear my own sense of responsibility calling to me.

Tonight, I went back in the house and continued to work after sunset, thinking all the while of the doe, whom I imagined was finding a place to bed down for the night. And I wondered what it would be like to live more in alignment with these daily and seasonal rhythms, that which my body seems to want.

At this time of year, at this latitude, the span of time between sunrise and sunset is about 9 hours. That is a short day, especially for those of us in the fullness of our work lives. But still, my body wants to honor the rhythms of nature, even during this time of year.

What would it be like, for you, to live more in sync with nature’s rhythms?










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