Where Eagles Soar

So fellow travelers, one soul stirring, rock your heart out concert later

and back home, plowing (yes I mean it quite literally) through the effects of a very stubborn winter season. A few nasty tumbles on icy patches in our driveway had me sidelined for the past few weeks and the doldrums of inactivity left my spirits and creativity flat as the frozen landscape around me.

It’s rare for me to go more than a few days without getting in a good walk, even in winter. Walking clears my head and lets me cast off the little frustrations which come from working within the public education system. The simple joys of catching a bit of light cast just so on new snow, hearing a woodpecker chatter from the bare limbs of a favorite tree, feeling the warmth of sun as it slides towards the horizon a bit later each day, all these little moments of zen which renew my soul are sorely missed when I am housebound.

This morning I had reason to get up early to drive into the city

Yep, donuts!

And trust me these are donuts worth getting up early for because this local donut shop, known for their imaginative creations, has been featuring Girl Scout Cookie themed donuts all week and they saved the best for last-

Behold the Holy Grail of DonutmeetsCookie-  a Thin Mint Donut. (cue Hallelujah chorus) I know right? Who wouldn’t rise with the sun on a Saturday morning to have a chance to get one (or two) before these treasures sold out? Nevermind the frigid temperatures registering just barely in the teens- the kind of still cold air which drives even droplets of water vapor to huddle together in tightly wound plumes spiraling slowly into the ice blue morning sky.

My pilgrimage must have been sanctioned by Divine Grace for not only was I blessed with a parking spot close to the shop, but on the drive home, I caught glimpses of several bald eagles soaring over Onondaga Lake. A quick stop at an overlook along the lakeshore allowed me to watch them, too distant for photos, but within reach of my birding binoculars.

Onondaga Lake frozen over from the lookout point

Bald Eagles have been gathering in increasing numbers to winter over at the south end of the lake, where they can easily hunt for fish in an expanse of open water created by a sewage treatment plant. Aerial majesty made possible from crap* ~

There’s a life lesson woven into that thought.

Incoming Bald Eagle taken a few weeks earlier from a different vantage point on the lake. Look closely to spot it’s hunting partner in the tree. Its a “goodasitgets” cell phone shot but you can find great photos at this link to the Onondaga Audubon photog page on Facebook.

Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.

*for the record, the open water is created from warm filtered water which flows back into the lake. The warmth and residual nutrients draw fish (mostly carp) to that end of the lake.  Pollution from raw sewage in no longer a primary concern in the overall balance of the lake, once listed as one of the most polluted fresh water bodies in the United States. The lake’s well being continues to improve after a ten year restoration project to abate contamination accumulated from decades of municipal and industrial dumping.

Ice-ing

So fellow travelers, sometimes the detours which happen along the way lead to unexpected gifts like this lunch stop I made on the way to see my favorite band ,Switchfoot, play tonight in New Jersey.

Goyza and bubble tea at Mitsuwa

My road trips this season have been plagued by weather related delays and cancellations. It’s an “occupational” hazard which comes with being an “occupant” of the Northeastern section of the United States. The most recent casualty of this seasons series of winter storms (I believe this one was named Petra) was a much anticipated backstage meeting with the band

Back in October when I booked the event, I did so knowing anything in February holds the potential for winter weather interference. Still the event was during our mid-winter break, Philadelphia is a reasonable drive and it would be an opportunity to visit with family just outside the city.

Two days before the concert, I began to see winter storm warnings. so I proactively headed to my parents place a day early. The morning of the show, weather alerts popped up on my phone indicating the forecast now included heaviest snowfall right around the time I would be headed into the city. The show ended up being cancelled, but I knew they also had a concert scheduled two nights later in Montclair, so at least I will get to see them before I head back home. My ticket for tonight’s performance does not include the backstage pass I had for the Philly concert- but that will be honored on the rescheduled date.

The day of the Philly event, I had actually opted to drive into the city several hours early, so I would arrive at the venue ahead of the heavier snow. I had confirmed the the location of a Starbucks within walking distance of the venue, so I had a warm familiar place with good coffee and wifi to hang out until it was time to check in for the backstage event- which was several hours before the concert itself. About half an hour before check-in time I decided to head back to my car and just as I was pulling on my coat, a text message popped up on my phone. Show would be rescheduled, date to be announced.

Considerably more relieved than disappointed, I plowed my way through deepening snow back to my car which was miraculously clear; the parking area was located under I-95, providing better shelter from the elements than I expected. I noticed a handful of people, I assumed were others who would have been attending the pre-show event, walking from the venue towards the parking lot. I heard a voice comment, “It’s too bad you came all the way for no reason.” A thought I might have applied to my experience but for one encounter on the snowy drive back.

At a busy intersection where cars were slowly moving through, I had stopped to wait for the next light change. On the corner I spotted someone struggling to walk through the snow, carrying a tarp and a piece of cardboard. I reached into my bag, grabbed some cash, rolled down my window. He came right over, calling out “Oh God Bless you Ma’am” before I even handed him the money. “God bless you too sir and please get yourself someplace warm,” I told him “ Thank you Ma’am I’m trying, I will.” I watched him trudge down the sidewalk before driving away, not caring that a few cars passed around me- although they at least refrained from the usual horn blast one gets when you hold up traffic.

Every element of that crazy weather driven day aligned so I had that chance to share one act of kindness for someone whose situation far outweighed any disappointment of a postponed event. Better yet, the sleet held off until just before I pulled in at my parents home. A kind of Ice-ing on a day with surprising gifts of gratitude.

Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready

Walking Towards the Light

So fellow travelers, even after hitting “publish,” the last entry felt incomplete, yet I had resolved to start writing again, so I pushed an ending onto it and posted the first entry for the year. It felt more like the final entry for last year and on thinking so, this quote came to mind:

So the last shall be first, and the first, last: for many are called, but few chosen.” (Matthew 20:16 ) King James Bible

It is no less mystifying to me now than when I first heard it in Sunday school over five decades ago, so rest assured I am not going to veer towards biblical pontification here.

All I know is when the phone call came this morning saying due to weather (ice this time instead of snow) school was closed, I grabbed a cup of coffee and the opportunity to sit down and review. After the final edit, I rarely re-read entries once they are posted because like an art teacher once taught us, there comes a time to put down the paint brush and walk away. Yet as I said there was something which felt incomplete, so I began re-reading and as I did, two things became clear
~ I am tired of being upset and angry about the past “situation” at work.
~ I am processing grief on several levels, past and present, and this process is weighed down by the unresolved anger so I need to attend to that first.

Traditional Japanese New Year’s decorations

Early in my exploration of spiritual paths, a group of friends and I learned a technique for working with challenging emotions. After going through the basic breathing for focus and relaxation, we visualized ourselves in a safe and sacred space. Once settled there, we would invite the emotion to enter the space, where it would be present but unable to hurt us in anyway. This allowed us to have a dialogue with the emotion to discover what it “needed” from us. The session had fascinating and for some, profoundly moving results. This morning I decided to sit with this unresolved anger and see what it had to say.

Often when I practice this technique, my anger appears as a restless, pacing tiger. Today it showed up as a snarling badger. My first thought was “I miss my tiger,” probably because while I respect the potential danger of a tiger’s power, they are after all simply big cats and I have almost as much affinity for cats as I do for dogs. We would have several if our current resident Diva was more accepting of cats. My tiger has become familiar, this badger was a mean, unpredictable intruder and it let me know in no uncertain terms it was RAVENOUS. When I asked what would satiate it’s hunger, it told me it wanted to eat my heart. No, I said, my heart holds all my hope and joy and you cannot have that. The badger screamed so loud it startled me,  but I also felt myself propelling all my frustration into that scream until there was nothing left. The badger** looked at me calmly, turned and walked away. I came out of this meditation with my heart racing and sense of release so powerful, I started sobbing.

It is time to relinquish my efforts to get any response from the district adminstration about the systemic failures which allowed a volatile situation to continue for so long. I will walk away from my career next year knowing I did what I could and hope the changes needed will come before any one is seriously physically harmed.

My time and energy are better given to other needs calling for my attention. Last year ended with a heartbreaking loss for a colleague, a young teacher whose first child was stillborn at seven months, something very close to my own experience 31 years ago. We began this year saying goodbye to an elder family member who had made the passage beyond life just before New Year’s Day. The carnations at her burial brought sudden memories of her sister ( my mother-in-law) who left this life two and a half years earlier.  A few weeks later our younger daughter returned to Portland, to continue her search for a way forward, her future more uncertain than this mother’s heart can abide. So those tears ran wild until there were none left give, running with my hope their salt can heal the fractures into a stronger spirit. Strength I will need for the journey come, because life goes on and it is time to set out on the path again.

Winter Light on a favorite path

Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready

**Postscript: In fairness to the many taxidea taxus who inhabit our region it should be noted that although they are omnivores who consumer small rodents and birds when they can catch them, their diet consists mainly of earthworms. I think my heart is safe.

Maybe Tomorrow

So fellow travelers, after packing in as much adventure as possible in these last few weeks of summer break I thought it was about time I got back to writing. Hunkered down with both the aircon and a fan going to ward off the heat advisory level humidity outside, there are no spectacular views to distract me here in my writing space.

Sorry- what was I saying?

Oh right- off the trails and back to writing. It is after all approaching the 36 hour mark to BTS (BackToSchool for all those without schools aged kids or teacher types in their midst) and I will soon be immersed in the routines of schedules and modified lesson plans.

So I got busy scribing some thoughts for a good quarter hour picking up where I had left off in Joshua Tree National Park , when a message popped up on my laptop screen informing me the “system has encountered a problem and needs to restart” and BEFORE I could click Save , my screen went black.

and when everything rebooted and I opened the WordPress tab ….. that post had evaporated into the ethers.

Not

One

Word

Left

Ah well, it wasn’t coming together so well anyways.

Tomorrow we try again, because everyday is a chance to begin again.

So, as Christopher Robin once said in a note to Pooh

Backson

Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.

Hell Fire and Brimstone

So fellow travelers, hello from the depths of Joshua Tree National Park where an early morning walk brought me to this impressive view.

Look closely. To get a true sense of scale, I stepped back to include the little bench on the trail.

When I arrived last night the desert sky was mind boggling mass of stars and those giant trees seemed to be reaching up to grab them.

It was a long drive (made more palatable by a joyful dinner reunion with a friend) from the coastal paradise of Oceanside where I have spent the past week immersed in an adventure of unexpected grace and healing. More of that story to come.

Longer still was the journey through the inconceivable hell of the last weeks of school. Hence the absence of posts here for the past month. Some things are better left unsaid~ at least for now~ so let the Giants of the desert speak for us.

Giants born in hell

Reaching Heavenward in Hope

Guided by the stars

Three weeks of hell.

One week of grace.

Strength to move forward.

Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.

the middle way

Kathy has captured emotions I am reaching for deeply right now. This year’s transition of seasons is filled wth emotions for me as I have struggled to find meaning in some choices happening around me. Her words and the beautiful images she shared are a gift.

spontaneousaccomplishment

Having my first walk in the woods with the dogs in almost three weeks, there are noticeable changes. Gold gone tone deaf brown,

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and conifer green with sunlit yellow bursts now reserved for the low lying beech trees that define a perceptible middle ground.

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There are broad stretches of wheat colored growth, dying while at the same time holding firm ground.

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There is the iridescent flaming red that connects and ignites the middle ground of the landscape.

I revel in this middle ground. I find comfort in the enclosure of life and color so close that it caresses. It’s hard to ignore. It’s easy to accept the change from all inclusive vastness of tree and sky that so recently encircled and invited, to the starkness of bare gray branch getting lost in blue white grayness above.

I settle back into a middle way, between fight and flight, into acceptance. Finally…

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Introducing WordPress.com for Google Docs: A New Way Forward for Collaborative Editing

Sharing for fellow wordpress bloggers with the full disclaimer I have not tested it out yet. I do plan to try this in the next week or so. If you have feedback please do post your experience the comments!

The WordPress.com Blog

We are happy to announce WordPress.com for Google Docs, a new add-on that lets you write, edit, and collaborate in Google Docs, then save it as a blog post on any WordPress.com or Jetpack-connected WordPress site. Your images and most formatting will carry over too. No more copy-and-paste headaches!

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To get started, just go to the Google Web Store page and click to install it.

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Joshua Dubois: What the President secretly did at Sandy Hook Elementary School

My definition of a true leader in a crisis

Vox Populi

Below is an excerpt from The President’s Devotional by Joshua Dubois, the former head of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. He’s recounting events that occurred Sunday, December 16, 2012 — two days after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, when 20-year-old Adam Lanza fatally shot 20 children and 6 adult staff members. Dubois had gotten word the day before that the President wanted to meet with the families of the victims:

I left early to help the advance team—the hardworking folks who handle logistics for every event—set things up, and I arrived at the local high school where the meetings and memorial service would take place. We prepared seven or eight classrooms for the families of the slain children and teachers, two or three families to a classroom, placing water and tissues and snacks in each one. Honestly, we didn’t know how…

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Uncomfortable. Different. Progress.

Right in sync, as often happens, Tom’s piece gives me insights I needed. Perfect followup up to my recent posts.

The Wisdom Letters

I turned down a client today. That’s kinda rare.

He had an interesting project. It would have been a good stream of work for several months. I’ve known the client for years and I know I’d enjoy working with him. But there was a problem.

He’s working for a new company (new to him) who desperately needs to make changes to their marketing. They know that what they have done for the past four years has not worked. “Something,” he told me when he first contacted me, “has to change.” When he ran the numbers by me, it was clear he was right. This is right up my alley – change, growth, all the stuff I love to do and am good at.

But the problem started this morning when we began mapping out strategy to begin. I’d make a suggestion and he’d say “We can’t do that. They don’t…

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Gorillas, rhetorical fences and the anesthetic of blame

Insight, balance, well spoken post on the much discussed events of last week from writer, outdoors adventurer and friend Jennifer Bowman

The Trailhead

Unless you live in a sensory deprivation chamber, you know that a few days ago, a little boy slipped into the gorilla enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo, prompting zoo officials to shoot and kill one of the gorillas, a 17-year old male named Harambe, in the enclosure. What ensued in the larger society looked something like this:

And so we braced ourselves for the life cycle of these things: internet rage mob, followed by the rage mob against the rage mob. Shortly thereafter, people would start posting on Facebook about how they are tired of hearing about the gorilla, already, and you would know it was running its course, without any real understanding ever taking place.

But I’m hoping this one is shaping up differently than other internet outrages, like the killing of Cecil the lion. The initial anger against the allegedly negligent mother  who let her kid get into the gorilla enclosure, and…

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