Flowering tree I worship in my neighborhood

It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things. – Leonardo da Vinci

As any famous person floating around the interweb, there is debate about whether da Vinci actually wrote this quote in this way. But it jolted me the moment I read it on a card gifted to my daughter. The sender recognized ways she “happens” to things. An awesome quality.

An insight came to me as it relates to my own inner truth. That life actually requires a balance of happening to and letting things happen. Happen-ing will happen either way, but it is equally important to ALLOW as it is to DO.

I thought about how to write about this topic, and my all-day parent support training at Children’s Hospital this weekend provides the perfect illustration of the insight.

In my 20s and early 30s, I badly wanted to work at the children’s hospital in my region. I applied twice to different positions. It was the only hospital that rejected my application in 22 years of working for hospitals around the US as a medical transcriptionist, including other children’s hospitals. Now, I might have chosen to persist and “happen to it” applying 10 or 20 times instead of two, but each interview and testing process is so time consuming that when faced with earning a living or interviewing, earning a living won out in that moment.

Fast forward a decade, and life not only happened to me so that I lived inside my region’s Children’s Hospital for the better part of 2-1/2 years but afterward allowed me to serve others in several ways using that “education.” So I was never to earn a living there, but I was able to serve there. This weekend’s training was awesome, well-coordinated and powerfully allowed me to connect to other parents who share what I consider a most valuable “life degree,” in that it transformed all of us in ways difficult to explain to others who have not been on a similar journey.  We were provided great resources and assistance to support others. I cannot think of other work I’d rather be doing. Paid or not.

Well, maybe other than knitting. . .

Celebrating World Wide Knit In Public day while waiting in ferry line. Someone’s gotta do it, why not me? (Flowers actually for my dad’s birthday which happened to fall on same auspicious day as a bunch of people around the world doing something in public that is more peaceful than a lot of stuff being done in public). This is one of my three UFOs (unfinished objects) which will have better photographs once they become FOs.

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Meet Po. Yes named after Kung Fu Panda, Po.

Po is now about double in size from this photo, somewhere between the size of a rat and a hamster. He arrived in a pet store in bad shape after being attacked by the brood he was in. Who knows? Maybe he was “different” in some way the brood could not tolerate. A caring staff person rehabilitated him to allow his scars to heal. Then he became a member of our household.

Occasionally he roams out of his cage. He has the sweetest temperament of any hamster we’ve been around, so when he roams we place his cage on the floor so he can access water and do not worry. Thus far he has been smart enough to stay away from consuming fallen leaves from possibly toxic houseplants.

Last night was one of those times he was on the loose so I listened for any sounds before falling asleep. Sometime around 2 a.m. I woke from a deep sleep to scritching sounds on my bedding. I became really awake when Po reached my hair. I think I got out of bed the fastest I ever have and had to turn the light on to get a hold of him since he was having so much fun. Long live Po.

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Polish or Polish?

Today’s word prompt is “polish” which I decided to read as Polish, since my focus has been there of late. Ever since February when my daughter was assigned to an exchange year in Poland (we are still awaiting confirmation or information about exactly where she will be placed), I have been immersing myself in the amazing power of Polish poetry and have learned quite a bit about the country’s history. She has been working on learning the complex language, the sounds of which I enjoy listening to even though I have not a clue of the meaning. We hope to attend this local Polish festival in July.

Here is a good general overview of the country for anyone interested.

I will not post their poems here for copyright, but instead will provide links to two prominent Polish poets of the past century.

Wislawa Szymborska: Read 5 of her poems. I believe she was one of the least prolific poets who has received a Nobel Prize, but each poem stops me in my tracks. Precisely what a great poem does.

Czeslaw Milosz: I highly recommend reading The Captive Mind and any of the thousands of poems he has written translated into English. One that most stuns me is A Song on the End of The World. Another very different poem that is so zen it was published in a Buddhist publication is Gift. There are probably many, many more amazing Polish poets whose work has not been translated to English because that task is very labor intensive.

And now for my labor of love, knitting.

June Challenge

Each day I am challenging myself to stop making excuses of being too tired at the end of a day or needing special software. I am writing down a knitting design every day of June so that by end of month I will have 30 design concepts. The rules are the design does not need to be fully conceptualized or written out, only that I get an idea out of my head into a sketch or written form. I am doing this as a first step in my process toward my dream of earning a living doing what I love.

Currently, I am working on a Royal Mile shawl by a Polish designer whose body of work is fabulously appealing to me:  Justyna Lorkowska

It helps me to look at the design work I love and research how the elements that attract me are made. Since I have not sewn other than under duress in a high school Home Ec class, I have most to learn about sizing measurements and garment construction.

Welcome Blanket project: A visual representation of the proposed 2000-mile border wall in yards of hand-made welcome blankets. The Welcome Blankets will be displayed in a museum for a few months before being distributed to immigrant families.

Sometimes the answer comes before the question. This week, I have opportunity to test out a new acrylic yarn line for a local craft store, so was given 3 colors to test it with (photo above). I am creating a design based on patterns I saw in my youth in New Mexico because the colors are perfect for adobe and sky, and I thought, “What am I going to make this thing into?” A Welcome Blanket is my answer. I do not normally work with acrylic yarn, but it is inexpensive and sturdy, perfect for such a project. Will post photos of completed projects as they happen.

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Just want to post something that brings me cheer in these times I want to turn away from the news. I was asked to play piano for a summer event, something I have not done much in years. I think I’ll dive in, even though I have no confidence I can do it and my hands may fall off after typing for a living all day. It’s strange being good at something when very young but not so good decades later, because the mind believes it can when the body really cannot. But getting out of a comfort zone is always good.

New York – 60 pianos in public spaces for three weeks, then donated to schools. Check out the artist renderings HERE 

They are all amazing, like the Bronx one covered in black and white photographs, but I think this is my favorite. Unbelievable to me this Mithila art form is all freehand: 

Portland – 20 Pianos (only one I have seen in person with sausage fingers limiting my playing at Mile 20 of the 2015 Portland Marathon)

Seattle – 11 Pianos in King County – Pianos in the Parks

International Tour – Play Me, I’m Yours


London – Instrument of Change Documentary on Street Pianos

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The Light of Suffering

There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in. ~ Leonard Cohen

A quiet passage happened in my world. My daughter outgrew fairies. I still know they are in the deep woods celebrating while no one is looking.

A decade ago when she was very ill, Make A Wish volunteers decorated her bedroom as her wish. In lieu of a wall mural since we live in a rental home, a generous graphic artist created this portable canvas for her. My daughter collaborated with the artist on a list of design elements she wanted included, even though part of her memory blackout of two years of medical treatment includes this happening. A parent, on the other hand, remembers every detail of the graciousness of these volunteers who gifted their time and energy to assure my daughter woke up to a beautiful room each day.

Now that my daughter is completely healthy and no longer wants a fairy theme for a teen’s room (not many would) I am searching for a current contact for the artist to ask if she minds if we donate this work to the Ronald McDonald House in Seattle where other ill children might appreciate it. I view my daughter wanting to let go of reminders of her past as perfectly aligned with healthy growth.

Why Not Me?

This weekend I have been asked to attend a training at Children’s Hospital for a new Parent to Parent program that happily is getting off the ground to have parents support other parents going through the crisis of having a critically ill child. I have been having waves of emotions surface going back a decade but I feel I have healed my own P.T.S.D. enough to possibly be a supportive listener to others going through what I did. I really don’t know if I can help, but I know with absolute certainty that having someone simply care to listen to me saved me many times, and I would like to learn the tools necessary to do so for others. To pass on the light that comes from suffering.

In participating in a similar volunteer phone support program for a different organization that matched people only by specific diagnosis, I was matched with three families over a decade. One consistent theme I would like to learn more skills around is the question I heard over and over:  Why me? Why my child? Why out of all the evil in the world does this precious innocent being need to suffer?

This question and providing any helpful suggestions around dealing with anger are my two most challenging parts of assisting another parent, because my personal journey never included the question “why me?” Instead I thought, “Why not me?”

And it took me years to figure out what to do with anger, other than handing it over to the natural world, the large expanse of interconnected life that became my salvation then and since. It can be cathartic to shout your anger and cry your grief in the woods. The trees, lakes or rivers are strong enough to absorb it and give you back some love. I also encountered the book When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron during this time and can recommend that to support anyone in crisis, because I have heard people who do not identify remotely as Buddhist feel helped by its wisdom.

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Elements of Support

The traveler must be born again on the road and earn a passport from the elements, the principle powers that be for him. ~ Henry David Thoreau

I am constantly relearning to trust and rely on the elements within. These elements are of course a microcosm of the elements outside us since we are all made up of the same. Even though we have abused it, Earth remains truly abundant in its forms and supportive elements.

Go here if you would like to glimpse a beautiful example of heartfelt nature elements connection and gratitude this week while folks circumnavigated the island on which I reside.

Recently, I had an interaction with someone I was seeking advice from that reinforced for me how important it is to trust our own path, trust our own truth. I wanted guidance to be sure I was supplementing my diet correctly and not eating too few calories to sustain basic good health. This person who advertised as helping vegans not only told me it was dangerous to remain a vegan but that my weight loss goal should be a weight I have literally not been since age 14. I do not know a single person in midlife who weighs what they did at 14. All I want to be is healthy.

I was in a state of panic for a few days wondering if I was truly harming my health by my intake and felt shame about the inadequacy of my weight loss goal, the weight I feel best at, since this person had a degree and I do not.

When you know for yourselves that, ‘These qualities are skillful; these qualities are blameless; these qualities are praised by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to welfare & to happiness’ — then you should enter & remain in them. ~ Buddha (from Fake Buddha Quotes “I can’t believe it’s not Buddha!“)

Then I remembered my own truth. I suddenly recognized the advice I was given was out of some pain or suffering in the person giving it. I felt compassion for anyone living in a world where being skeletal or 14 forever is praised. I reaffirmed for myself I want to remain vegan with every fiber (pun intended) in my being because the diet fits my values.

I decided I can be happy to have reached 20 pounds lighter than at the beginning of the year, that I only have 11 more to go to be within the top of “Healthy  BMI (body-mass index)” for the first time in 20 years, and that my end goal weight puts me squarely in the healthy range. People have pointed out all sorts of flaws with the BMI chart saying it does not take into account many individual differences, but it is at least an outward signpost to healthy weight reflected much more importantly by how a person feels inside themselves walking, breathing, living in the world with a human body.

If my asthma is better at lower weight (it is), I feel well-nourished (I do), and I can look toward a future of long walks and hikes in old age (I do), then I have met my goals. That is my truth and I have listened to the elements that support me. Who knows? I may be that 80-year-old walking across the country yet.

Speaking of Elements:

Wave energy, solar energy, wind energy all are being developed by people around the world. Here is one small way you can contribute to renewable energy in the US. If you want to change your electricity use over to wind energy, use this link and we both save a few bucks our next bill: Arcadia

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What Do The Trees Say?

I would rather listen to trees than politicians. Thank you trees around the world for being there with and for us on climate.

Asking if America can be first is not the question. The question is, can we all work together for the survival of all beings including ourselves?


You can sign the Paris Accord on behalf of the US:  LINK

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