Being The Pendulum in Crazy Times

What can feel like a global meltdown in some ways has given me great opportunity to practice how I interpret the input.  I feel like we’ve all memorized the list: Global terrorism, climate change with destructive storms, unprecedented 65 million refugees, one third of those children, tenuous relationships among world leaders, failing infrastructure and economic and racial tensions.  Meanwhile, people go about working day in, day out, feeding their families, and taking their kids to school.

Wikipedia offers this open source diagram of a pendulum, which at first glance involves a guy named Bob and a guy named Rod. Nope. Just pendulum parts.  Point is, we can practice returning to the equilibrium position whenever the input gets overwhelming.


Taking brief moments throughout your day to remind yourself you have a center is a great way to weather these times.

Especially with all the input I get working in media, I find it helpful to envision that I am a pendulum. I can listen to Hillary. I can listen to Donald. I can find my center.  I can listen to Michelle and hear something that feels like my equilibrium.  Regardless what you think of Hillary, Michelle has definitely come into her own as a speaker.

Here’s one outside perspective:

“There’s profit in saying the world is coming to an end.”

Nutrition Support


My sister sent me this card this week that made my day. I’ve linked the image to its parent company in order to give credit where credit is due.

The image dovetails with another way I find my center.  By practicing plant-based diet and making sure I take daily vitamin B’s and vitamin D supplement.  (I say practicing because after three years without dairy, I’m still trying to give up milk chocolate chips and occasional eggs).  For those who live in a low-sun region like I do, and/or earn a living in front of a computer screen, vitamin D is super helpful.  Should anyone want more than enough information about the benefits of all of the above, the resource below is chock full.




Hiking and Knitting Mindfulness

The other day I thought, if I could run a business based on two things I love most, it would be hiking and knitting retreats.

Just as sitting meditation and yoga compliment each other as a total mindfulness practice, it occurred to me so do knitting and hiking.

Knowing I can’t be the first person to consider this, a google search pulls up primarily one culture that offers several guided tours doing hiking and knitting: Iceland.  One of several offerings, and another.

In my current life, I tend to feel like an odd sort of freak sitting on a log in the woods knitting.  So when I see another culture that embodies that oddness as “normal” to include knitting needles and yarn in a trek packing list, I feel great joy.

One of the coolest things about travel is discovering many aspects of our personalities can be the “norm” in one culture when they may not be in the culture we were born into. If we tend toward being reserved and prefer surrounding ourselves with solid colors, we might feel at home in certain cultures more than others. If we prefer loud colors and boisterous expression, we might fit into another better. Or we might be drawn to another culture’s expression because it offers what our personality does not.

Apparently knitting in Iceland originated in the 1500s after exposure to British or Germans.  When it was discovered they could produce clothing faster by knitting than weaving looms available at the time, the leadership mandated all able-bodied people over age 8 had to knit a certain amount to contribute to the society.

Now that most of us wear fabrics made in factories far from where we live, I find it extremely gratifying like no other thing in my life to complete a fabric with my hands. I will soon post photos of three current projects near completion.

Someday I may get to Iceland or create my own little business. My weakness is allergies preventing me working with raw wool, so I don’t spin and cannot participate in any farm ventures. But maybe I can find others interested at my level of abilities if I just dream-storm and build it.

Here is one lovely story of inspiration I encountered celebrating the power of the woods to heal our spirits (one half of the knitting + hiking equation):

Storm of Half Century

While I still have power that has been flickering all day, I want to bookmark in this blog that a storm of large proportions is near.  News media is comparing the conditions of remnant Pacific Typhoon Songda as it approaches where I live to the largest storm ever recorded along the Northwest Coast in 1962.

I was not alive in 1962, but during my five years living in Oregon, I heard many tales of the storm’s impact there, including most trees in downtown Portland uprooted.  This morning, as tornadoes have touched down in the precise location I dream of starting a new life someday, I am grateful no one reportedly is injured so far.

Check out the video here of the approaching tornado on the North Oregon Coast.

I freelance remotely with colleagues in different locations.  One of them after seeing this article in the Washington Post and noting my location is directly in the purple eye of the European weather model graphic, asked why no evacuations take place like they do on the East Coast.

Are remnant typhoons and cyclones really that different from hurricanes in anything other than name and directionality? I’m not sure. I do know my location has weathered many severe windstorms and even a freak tornado in past winters, some knocking out power for days. We seem to call them simply “windstorms” in this region and patiently wait them out.

Hoping for minimal damage to people region-wide, I am okay with missing a few days work, knitting up my own storm, and keeping my fish tank alive by circulating warm water boiled on my gas stove.

When you are 24 hours from after-effects of a storm that already has its own Wikipedia page, it can feel a bit unnerving. Fortunately, it did not make landfall on Japan. Storms can belie the best meteorologic models.

We all hope the hype shows us nothing we haven’t already handled in the past.

Post Script:  Despite 60 mph gusts, heavy rain, media hype and household preparations, this storm produced much less damage and no power outage in my specific location than many prior storms. Power company’s work to minimize outages on island this year must have paid off, and storm weakened once it made landfall. So much for a day off work.

Power Without Sexual Violence

One side effect of Trump’s statements about women, about people of various ethnicities and religions is that it is allowing some things to be flushed out into the open.

I’m not much on social media, but even I learned of and was awed by the fact that one woman could tweet the question, “Tweet me your first assaults,” and have a MILLION women (& men) respond within 24 hours. #NotOkay is already a powerful statement, but has potential to become a transformational movement if it creates a shift in how people think of themselves and their own power.

The fact these accounts are of “first assaults,” (not 2nd, 3rd) which fall on the spectrum from groping to rape feels like a huge wave of awareness that people are not alone in this experience as part of being human. My first assault occurred at age 15 (unless I count being flashed by a streaker while walking to school at age 11). At the time, I was terrified and relieved an older adult intervened. I soon brushed it aside, thought it was no big deal and didn’t even know it was sexual assault until I took a self-defense class years later where I got to scream “No” at an imaginary attacker. My experience was not rape but it was two total strangers groping me and trying to rip my shirt off. I think we can define sexual assault as any groping, touching, fondling or otherwise crossing someone’s personal boundaries without their permission.

Does this terrifying experience have to be so normal, so much a part of every young woman’s entry into adulthood and every man’s experience of their own power?  Men are definitely victims too, but fewer come forward, and this Twitter sharing was specifically addressed to women.

After all the examples across the political spectrum of men in positions of power using that position to cross personal boundaries, I have been wondering, “Is power possible without sexual violence?”  Ghandi comes to mind as one version of powerful male leadership, though I hope men don’t need to starve themselves in order to lead with strength and authenticity.  Many women have held high offices and positions of power around the world, but I am not aware of examples of them abusing others physically or sexually when in those positions.

Sexual violence has been a readily used tool of war throughout human history to control groups of people. But if we are living in a society that is relatively at peacetime and supposedly “civil” or “enlightened” what does it mean when so many are #NotOkay?

Thank you to Trump for showing us we are really not okay.  Can we learn to use our energies to benefit ourselves and those around us? Can we focus our energies on creating spaces where people can feel safe to be themselves and okay in their own birthright of a body?



Not Alone

“When people ask me how best to give someone permission to die, I tell them to imagine themselves standing by the bedside of the person they love and saying with the deepest and most sincere tenderness: ‘I am here with you and I love you. You are dying, and that is completely natural; it happens to everyone. I wish you could stay here with me, but I don’t want you to suffer any more. The time we have had together has been enough, and I shall always cherish it. Please now don’t hold onto life any longer. Let go. I give you my full and heartfelt permission to die. You are not alone, now or ever. You have all my love.'”  ~ Sogyal Rinpoche


Holding the transition of someone dear to me in my heart, I closed my eyes and opened a spiritual text. I looked down at the paragraph (above quote) where my finger landed.

I decided to post this today because a beautiful offering is happening in a few weeks for anyone interested in working with grief.

Poetic Path of GriefWeekend Intensive- Nov. 4th-6th
Begins Friday at 7 pm and ends Sunday at 4 pm
Story House, Clinton WA.
We believe in the power of being present to our grief and allowing it to transform our lives.

This weekend intensive program offers a deep dive into grief education, powerful poetry to help you access your feelings and emotions, tasks in nature, as well as time for sharing and support.

You will be guided through 10 touchstones for understanding your grief and 10 transformational poems that will take you on a journey of inner exploration and discovery. Nature and silence are also woven into our time together.

Throughout the weekend you will experience the touchstones more deeply through ceremony, art, solo reflection, and sharing.

Something amazing happens when we sit in circle and share. Offering our light and stories to each other, a miraculous thing happens when we learn and witness one another.

For more information and to register, contact:
Charlene Ray at
Mark Lucero at

In addition, a book soon available about a mom’s journey to help her daughter die well crossed my path during my work:

Wild And Precious Life


Narrow Vision

This week I had cause to reflect on my public school education and compare it to my child’s.  What has changed in 30+ years?  What is different from education in one state compared to another?

One blindingly apparent trend is the fact that a basic civics course is missing from my child’s education.  I am many years later grateful I was forced to sit through a stiflingly boring semester or year(?) of Civics class as a young teen.  It helped me to understand the nuts and bolts of my country’s system of government, information as an adult I appreciate having.  This 2015 article tells me only 8 states require civics testing, and it is widely believed few born and raised Americans can pass the same citizenship test given to those seeking to become citizens.  With so much talk about who deserves to be a true American these days, I wonder if I would pass.

The most powerful way to learn about our world is through personal interaction with others sharing their stories.  So even though I always wondered why educational curriculum in the US essentially ignores more than half the world’s population, in my 20s I learned about some of the rich human cultures from Africa, India and Asia by direct communication with people from those regions.

I think I know why not much is mentioned about Africa in our public education. Denial is a river. But Americans deserve a bit of understanding about a continent with 54 countries of rich cultural traditions, not to mention that the most popular scientific theory right now makes it the birthplace of every human on the planet.

China, anyone?  160 cities with more than 1 million people.  US has nine such cities.

India?  In six years, India is projected to be the world’s most populous country.

And what about Latin America?  South America includes 12 countries with many distinct languages and cultures, shares a border with the United States.  What I know about the breadth of American history is by accident from having grown up in New Mexico, a young state in the union that was part of South America until about a century ago.  Meeting Native Americans firsthand gave me a broader perspective of American history preceding 1500.

Despite my life experiences and travel, I feel ignorant about my own country and the world’s peoples.  How can we behave like responsible global citizens if we cannot respect or at least attempt to learn about the world around us?  One of my goals is to dust off my innate curiosity and continue to learn.

Not So Polarized

A tension is in the air ahead of the US elections and with the expression of extremes.  Polarized is the number one word I see to describe these times politically and socially.

One thing I find especially helpful now is to reflect on how every single person and every single event we encounter in life has a lot more truth underneath than the tip of the iceberg we can see.  We like for things to be simple.  Black and white.  Nothing is simple.  Except maybe the impulse to live.  We need people now who understand nothing is at it seems at first glance.

I remind myself often these days of the nature of reality being cause and effect rather than whatever judgment we place on it.  So the only power I truly have is to live and learn the best way I can in order that my effects on the world are helpful rather than harmful.

I had never heard of Peter Norman until today, but I am inspired by his story.  He was so poor that sports he wanted to participate in were unavailable to him, and the first time he had access to a real track surface was at the Olympics.  I see echoes today in the story of this moment in the 1968 Olympics where by the end of their lives, three people ended up believing they were put on Earth simply for this moment.

By Erin W

Musical Interlude

My daughter was one of 100 Seattle-area high school students who had opportunity to hear Joey Alexander live when he was at the Experience Music Project (EMP) Museum earlier this month. I’ve been listening to him since he arrived in the US, and feel grateful that wonderful musicians continue to exist in this often dark world. What blows me away about Joey is part his age (even people who don’t believe in reincarnation are tempted to when they hear a prodigy), but more the seamless way he converses and listens with other musicians. Something that can’t be taught. Music is like his entire being’s language and his conversations are incredible.

We had the pleasure of enjoying another type of jazz, gypsy jazz, this week when Djangofest arrived in our community. We could afford to attend one concert out of the festival lineup, and we chose these guys. It doesn’t seem possible to feel down when listening to gypsy jazz. Whenever I encounter great musicians, I think about all the mundane things artists have to go through to get to moment in time and place to share their art (plane travel, housing arrangements, even getting dressed for performances and finding bathrooms – all that kind of thing). They look like perfectly normal humans until they begin to play. Gratitude!

Here’s a little history on Django, in case you have never heard of him. The unique left hand style he developed after surviving a fire with severe burns at age 18 that left his 4th and 5th fingers paralyzed. His grandson, David Reinhardt continues to perform guitar today.

When Comfort Hurts

In the world of self-help and spiritual guidance, going outside our “comfort zone” is talked about as the only way toward growth. Well, I think the universe is trying to tell me something.

imag0986(See the little fox faces in the pattern? To commemorate seeing my first red fox ever while hiking in real life this year, I am drawn to fox things)

As a way to ease stress come fall and winter, I knit. Knitting is my comfort zone. From September through March, I want to make something for every single human I know.

But I injured myself this week. Knitting. Certainly not as embarrassing as people’s injuries in some of the ER reports I’ve transcribed, but nonetheless it can feel demoralizing to injure yourself in the comfort zone.

Thankfully, I live enough of a hermit-like existence that it’s very rare someone asks me how I’m doing (a lot to expect from my teen cohabitant), but if they did, I would say, “Oh this? This ice pack on my arm is from trying to rappel up a rock face. I wasn’t accustomed to pulling my body weight up a vertical surface using my forearms. Overdid it.”

Or maybe, “I decided to give paragliding a try and had a rough landing.”

Instead, I learned that doing any one thing for six straight hours, even if it brings comfort, is not recommended. I wonder, if it’s good for us to break out of our comfort zones, when the comfort zone becomes uncomfortable, is that a good thing? One of my several dreams of knitting full-time lead to this business card. Another when I was in my 20s was called Waterwoman Knits. I always return to the realities of making a living some more realistic way. Nevertheless, I shall go forth with what I enjoy with fortitude once my arm heals.


former business card

In taking a break from my rockin’ knitting in my spare time, here are a few bits of humor that made me laugh this week.

First, the Dalai Lama apparently has as difficult a time with compassionate nonjudgment as I do about a certain person.  (Although he did say “But, I don’t know” after the impression, which is a great catch-all compassionate not knowing).

If I was a comedian, I would be this woman, except my glasses are not as awesome. (I see from the more recent performance she is no longer single but what she has to say is awesome either way).