The Pursuit of Vitality

Throughout my day, I find myself thinking about my February word, Vitality. I pursue Vitality, and it peeks its head around the corner, teasing me, only to disappear again, like a wisp from an elusive dream.

It’s as if I don’t know Vitality yet, but my mind is a portal through which I can pass, to begin to understand Vitality in my heart’s nature.

So, Vitality, for me right now, is a concept. It’s a compelling concept. I long to live with a strong sense of animated, radiating, alive energy, and a Yes to life, quite apart from any current physical condition that I may be experiencing in the moment. This idea excites and intrigues me. I want to live eagerly.

Vitality seems like a choice, but what are we choosing, and how do we choose?

For me, Vitality seems to be an energy that originates from deep within.

So, then, it isn’t that I find a Thing that is my “passion,” and then as I do that Thing, and it animates and awakens me, and then I am living and being Vitality. I feel like it is an essence that stands apart from conditions.

It’s an enlivening, animating energy that is already there. It’s my birthright, our birthright.

The questions for me now are: how do I invite this animating energy to be fully present, in and through me? How do I awaken fully to it, deep in my heart? How do I allow it to awaken me?

What is Vitality to you?



Meeting Vitality

The first question for me, when I meet a new word, of the 12 Words, is: What is it?

February’s word is Vitality.

I have the sense that I know more about what Vitality isn’t, than what it is:

  • Going through life distracted and preoccupied
  • Just putting one foot in front of the other
  • Walking through the day with a sense of obligation rather than purpose
  • Stoic forebearance

But, what is it?

I know it when I see it.

We have all seen people who are very challenged physically, or quite elderly, and who light up a room with their sense of radiating energy of aliveness and Yes to life. What is that quality of being that they are tapped into, radiating, choosing, or allowing?

Having seen and known people like that, I believe that Vitality is different than being an outstanding specimen of physical health. It is a quality of being.

And, I know it’s an inside job.

What is that quality or essence?

How do we “be” Vitality?



My neighbors keep honeybees, and the bees are waiting right now, inside the hives.

They are waiting for the warmth of Spring, when they will go out of the hives and begin their work of gathering pollen and nectar.

What are you waiting for?

Life is Showing Me

reflections pond

The wind interrupts me. It jolts me. It shakes me awake. It cleanses me. It demands my attention. It can’t be ignored. It is literally in my face today.

In any moment, I know that Life is speaking to me. It is telling me, reflecting to me, the wisdom that I need to know right then.

Life is showing me where to look, and what to know.

Of all that could be getting my attention, right now, of all the things that I could be aware of, cloudless sky, fullness of sun, reflections in the ice, this wind is what has spoken to me.

So, this is where the wisdom lies.

Of all, this wind is what is most alive for me.

I pay attention to what is getting my attention. To me, it is Sacred Essence, reflecting back to me just what I need to know in this very moment.

This presence is available to me in every moment, in every experience. I need only to be aware of it. And therein lies the hitch. I must pay attention, to what is alive for me in each moment.

Today, again, I renew my pledge to pay attention. To tune myself to the subtle awakenings,  the slight movements, and the gentle stirrings.

I want to attend to the subtle invitations. Life is always inviting me to something. It is engaging me in a constant conversation.

Today, the wind is inviting me into a greater aliveness, an increased vitality. I only need to stop and listen, and it tells me this.

It is inviting me to wake up and be fully present.

What is Life inviting you to?




An Ordinary Day

pond ordinary day

Today is an ordinary day in an ordinary time. It is a quiet day, and it looks like most Winter days.

There is not much color, and hardly any sound. There is a light breeze and a grey, cloud-covered sky. The snow on the ground is looking a little worn and grey and dirty.

It feels like a dull day.

As Cinnamon and I walk, my attention wanders, away from what’s around me and towards a potpourri of things that have been on my mind.

When I reach the pond, I realize that I’ve missed a chunk of the walk. I’ve been somewhere else, pondering the issues du jour.

I’m a bit sad now, because, by my lack of attention, I’ve assumed that this day has nothing to show me. By presuming that nothing is new, I’ve short-changed the gifts that might be there.

Cinnamon suddenly looks up, riveted by a milkweed seed pod that shed its seeds last fall. She thinks it is a bird. To her, there are endless new and exciting things.

bird milkweed

The pond is beginning to thaw, and there are some interesting patterns that I hadn’t noticed before. Until this moment, I hadn’t even noticed the thawing.

So I commit, again, to pay attention. Life has infinite things to show me, and I don’t want to miss them, as simple and ordinary as they might be.

What would you like to pay attention to?



The Cold Way to Now

cold way to now

I’m out on a walk, on the coldest day of this winter season so far.

It is minus 15 degrees F wind chill. I’m walking really fast, head down, into the wind.

It is so cold that my breath feels like it is freezing on the way into my body.

I love my walks, and I almost flew the white flag of surrender today, given the cold. But I had taken all the time to get the dogs’ boots on, and thought I’d try a walk on the road, rather than in the yard. We usually get better results out on the road, if you know what I mean. 🙂

But, I  admit it; my focus is on walking fast to get to the end, back in the house, where I can have a warm cup of tea. I’m definitely just putting in my time.

Cinnamon stops for a moment, and I suddenly realize that I am not at all present in this moment. My mind is all wrapped up in thinking about how fast I can get back in the house. My mind is on that cup of tea.

I stop and take a few deep breaths. I deliberately center myself and come into the present. I clear my mind of all of its thoughts, and I look around, and I just feel, with all of my senses. This is always what brings me into the Now.

It is a stunning day. The sky is a bright sapphire blue, and perfectly clear, without a cloud in sight.

There are diamond glints, all over the snow. The light, fluffy, ivory snow that fell last night is sparkling. The surface of the snow is clear and perfect; the woodland creatures haven’t been out on this patch yet.

I let myself feel the breeze, and suddenly I become aware of the warmth of the sun on my face. I hadn’t even noticed that before. I am smiling in pleasure at the sun, which we haven’t seen in days. I just soak up the sunlight; it makes me feel so good.

Yes, it’s cold. But it is so much more, and I hadn’t been able to see any of the “more,” when my mind was completely possessed by how cold it is. I completely missed the full beauty of the day.

In the winter around here, we all seem to take up the hobby of Weather Watch. We become amazed at how cold it can become, and then when it becomes that cold, we become even more amazed at how much colder it can become. We develop a bit of a weather obsession, and we act like we deserve a badge of courage for how much cold we can tolerate.

None of that matters. It matters that we dress intelligently and stay safe, but beyond that, if we truly wanted warm weather, we wouldn’t live here.

In my obsession with the cold today, I almost missed the day. I certainly missed the beauty of the day, until I woke up, halfway through my walk. So I am asking myself: how can I be even more present to my life? How much of my life am I missing? How much beauty is there to be savored?

How much beauty is there, just waiting to be savored, in your life?




A Quiet Beauty

quiet beauty

It is the day after a violent sleet-snow blizzard, and it is utterly quiet.

I breathe in the stillness, and appreciate how nature has settled into a silent reverie.

In stark contrast to yesterday’s bedlam. the snow is a meditation of white, wonder, and awe.

It feels like everything is at ease.

Yesterday, I was standing in this very same spot, as the 50 mph winds howled with what felt like menace. The sleet was beating on my face relentlessly. The road disappeared and left behind a flurry of disorientation.

Today, I settle in, too, and as I do, I begin to take in the beauty of the landscape.

I often fail to appreciate the depth of beauty in winter, but today it is undeniable. The subtle shades of browns and greys lend a complexity to the land that takes my breath away.

The variety of shapes, colors, and textures, in the most ordinary of landscapes, is stunning.

It is like all of nature’s winter beauty has come out to show itself, after being in tumult, and hiding, yesterday.

Nature is such a lesson in impermanence.

It is also a reminder of cycles.

Like nature, we all live in natural cycles of waxing and waning. Our own creativity consists of bursts of activity, and then quiet, dormancy, incubation.

I am reminded of how I often expect myself to just keep going at a steady pace. This determination to keep plodding on is an unrealistic, and unfair, expectation. Nature teaches us this.

As I walk along in the calm tranquility, I wonder: what would be possible if I learned to sense the ebb and flow of my own natural rhythms, and, even more importantly, I respected them?

What would it be like for you, if you respected your natural rhythms?









Coyote Chorus

winter 2015 thirteen

It is a pitch-black midnight, with a crescent moon. I am out on the property with Harper the Dog for his last constitutional of the night.

Suddenly we hear a loud, piercing chorus of screaming, howling, and yipping.

The pack of about fifteen coyotes is down by the road and moving in our direction.

The first time I heard a whole pack of coyotes in close proximity, I learned what people mean when they say that the hairs stood up on the back of their neck.

Even now, a slight chill goes down my spine, and a bit of panic rises in my throat.

I often have this primal fear reaction when I hear the coyotes.

I take a breath, and settle down. I remember that I have never actually seen the pack, even though they have lived in our immediate vicinity for years. Once in a while, I see a solitary coyote at dawn or dusk, and they always keep to themselves. They avoid human contact.

I calmly walk Harper to the house, and we go inside.

I always believe that there is meaning for me in these close encounters with wildlife.

I thought about spirit’s message for me in hearing the coyotes so close tonight.

This interpretation seemed to fit for me: “Coyote Spirit Animal appears for you when you seem to have lost your way. Coyote animal speaks of the path less traveled, of the path that is hidden from plain view – as this is where you will find you way to the answers you seek. Solutions come in unexpected ways, and coyote is your trusted guide on this mysterious path.”

I have always chosen the path less traveled, and I am often in need of an intuitive, unseen guide on that uncommon path. Having read this interpretation, I now take comfort from our close encounter with the coyotes on this night. I am reminded that I need only meditate and tune into my intuition to sense the answers that I need in any moment.

What are your unseen guides, on your path?

The Color of Winter

color winter

I love color: the whole range of vibrant, full, potent, luscious color.

I love the seasons of the year that are full with color.

I’ve always felt that winter comes in last when it comes to color.

For a long time, I thought of winter as monochromatic.

That is, of course, completely erroneous. It was just how winter felt to me.

A few years ago, I made a commitment to myself that I would find things to love about winter.

That year, because of that commitment, I started to pay attention to the color of winter.

I noticed right away that the range of color in winter is much wider than grey to brown. This was a revelation to me.

I began to see the blue tones in the greys, and then I saw all the blues themselves. And I noticed that there are even a few greens, although somewhat subdued.

Then, I focused my attention on the deep, vibrant sunsets of winter. Some of the best sunsets ever are in the winter. The western sky often just explodes, with rich, deep oranges, purples, and reds, at sunset.

Tonight, I noticed a soft pink color that the light of the setting sun was casting on the snow. This was breathtaking in its subtlety.

Now, I am attuned to the color of winter, and I am especially appreciative of it, because I was oblivious to it for so long.

Where is the unexpected color in your life today?

A Resonant Call


I am out on a night walk. It isn’t late; darkness still comes early this time of year.

It is pitch black and very quiet. It is still, no wind, not even a breeze.

On these still winter nights, with the air so crisp and cold, sounds seem to carry more easily; the sound isn’t competing with the wind.

I can clearly hear the far-off noises. A dog barking, a couple of farms away. Our neighbor’s squeaky hinge. A truck, a mile and a half off, coming down the road.

Then Great Horned Owl is calling into the night, from our woods, now a half a mile away. hoo-h’HOO-hoo-hoo. hoo-h’HOO-hoo-hoo.

I feel a kinship with this owl. It, and its relatives, have lived on our property for at least 30 years.

The call of the Great Horned Owl is the very embodiment of January to me. When the Great Horned Owl starts to call every night, it is deep winter.

This call, to me, is synonymous with deep, penetrating darkness, and with cutting, piercing cold. It is the bitter, biting nights, when it hurts to breathe, that I begin to hear the Great Horned Owl.

Many people associate owls with wisdom, but for me, the call of the owl is the call of the mystery of life. It is sacred, and holy, to me. It resonates with something deep in me.

It on is the cold, clear nights, where the stars are an infinite tapestry, when I hear the owl. When I hear it, it is a call to me to stop and become utterly quiet, and to breathe into the night, and to feel my insignificance.

Knowing and feeling my own insignificance means that I can’t take myself too seriously.

To begin to know how tiny and how ephemeral we are, it is a gift.

It is a gift of the deep winter nights and the infinite black sky, and especially, of the owl.

What helps you know your ephemeral nature?





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