asking for what we want, getting what we need

Sometimes the thing you want brings you what you really need.

I wrote a while back about finally acquiring a pair of long-desired Adirondack chairs. I’ve always liked the look of them—the lines, the solid weight of them, the way they seem to settle perfectly into whatever location they happen to be placed. And perhaps there was some vague association with “the good life” mixed in there, too. However, I realize now that they’ve brought me a lot more than a couple of great-looking chairs to sit in.

The house I’m renting has a smallish back yard that backs onto a wooded area. There’s a little patio, perfect for the wrought iron bistro set I brought from my Richmond house. However, the previous tenant had let the patio area get overgrown and junky, so it was a job just getting the patio area to a minimal state of neatness. Next to the patio were the super cans for trash and recycling, plus a compost bin and some other junk the previous tenant had left behind—not a lovely sight. Also, other than an azalea bush and a pitiful-looking Rose of Sharon that had volunteered next to the super cans, it was pretty much all weeds and dirt. Not very appealing.


The patio area, just before I moved in. There really is a patio underneath those weeds!


View from the weedy-junky patio, before I moved in.










I got rid of the weeds and brought in a birdbath and several potted plants not long after I moved in, but the work required to truly transform the place was more than I could face at the time, so I decided instead to concentrate my gardening efforts in the front yard, which I would see every day coming and going and could enjoy from my wicker chair on the cozy front porch.

But as much as I’ve enjoyed my little front porch, I’ve continued to long for a private retreat, a place where I can take my coffee and go enjoy the outdoors while still wearing my pajamas, where I can write in my journal or read a book, uninterrupted by neighbors stopping to chat, where I can hang out with my dog and not worry about whether she might (as dogs will do) take off across the busy street in pursuit of squirrels.

Enter the famed Adirondack chairs. Continue reading

excerpt du jour ~nepo – how do we respond…

How do we respond to the tide of experience that sweeps into our ordinary lives? Do we respond to the unknown by being absent or being present? Do we hoard or give? Do we circumvent the truth or move through the truth? Do we withdraw and hide or stand in the open and seek connection? Do we view difficulty and suffering as isolating obstacles that exploit our weakness and stall our progress in life? Or do we view these incidents as transforming waves of experience that are part of an ongoing emergence of who we are? Do we believe that life is a pulling-apart we must survive or a constant rearrangement and putting together that we must surrender to? Do we run toward or from the bareness of being?

~Mark Nepo, Seven Thousand Ways to Listen: Staying Close to What is Sacred

post du jour ~gilbert

Ruin is a gift. Ruin is the road to transformation.
~Elizabeth Gilbert

Dear Ones –

OK, so I don’t usually quote myself on this page, but a reader asked me today if I would take a moment to further explain this idea that ruin can sometimes be a gift in our lives.

*takes a deep breath*

Let me begin by saying that the ruin I’m talking about here is not something I would encourage anyone to ever deliberately seek. I’ve seen people who chase darkness and destruction on purpose (sometimes for the glamour of it, sometimes for the romance of it, sometimes for the sheer self-hatred of it) and this is not a path that I am capable of endorsing for anybody.

No, I’m talking about the ruin that happens to you, without you ever seeing it coming. The chaos that sneaks up on you.

Because sometimes the bottom falls out of our lives. People leave us. Precious certainties are yanked away. We lose our health, our money, our gifts, our faith, our familiar surroundings, our trust. All the truths that we thought we could believe in forever suddenly depart us with no warning. The ground that we always knew was solid under our feet turns out to have been nothing but a trap door all along. (And then there’s another trap door under that one.) We disappoint ourselves. We are disappointed by others. We get dead lost. We are no longer longer recognizable to ourselves when we look in the mirror. It all falls to ruin.

And that, my friends, is when things start to get really interesting. Continue reading

quote du jour ~thich nhat hanh – a real love letter…

A real love letter is made of insight, understanding, and compassion. Otherwise it’s not a love letter. A true love letter can produce a transformation in the other person, and therefore in the world. But before it produces a transformation in the other person, it has to produce a transformation within us. Some letters may take the whole of our lifetime to write.

~Thich Nhat Hanh, Your True Home: The Everyday Wisdom of Thich Nhat Hanh: 365 days of practical, powerful teachings from the beloved Zen teacher

on becoming a butterfly

I don’t think I’d ever given much thought to what goes on inside a chrysalis, but I read somewhere recently about the actual process by which a caterpillar becomes a butterfly. It doesn’t just grow legs and wings and an exoskeleton; it actually dissolves into “caterpillar soup,” with only a few “imaging” cells left intact to serve as a blueprint for the butterfly-to-be. For all intents and purposes, the caterpillar dies, ceases to exist, and from the nothingness of what’s left, a beautiful new creature is born.

As is so often the case, this information comes to me at a time when I can relate to it strongly. Continue reading

quote du jour ~Lesser

How strange that the nature of life is change, yet the nature of human beings is to resist change. And how ironic that the difficult times we fear might ruin us are the very ones that can break us open and help us blossom into who we were meant to be.
~Elizabeth Lesser

quote du jour ~Clegg

Each of us possesses a creative self. Claiming that is a transformational art. When you begin to act on your creativity, what you find inside may be more valuable than what you produce for the external world. The ultimate creative act is to express what is most authentic and individual about you.
~Eileen M. Clegg