Category Archives: In the World

5 Stars: Daybreak

January Sunrise

Five stars.  Not merely enough for January’s morning quiet, for the dark time when the slightly waning Wolf Moon, the Lakota’s Stay Home Moon, shines high in the western sky surrounded by handfuls of random flickering stars.  Accept the invitation to throw a blanket over your shoulders, open the front door and step barefoot on to the deck and you’ll not be disappointed.  Stillness will penetrate you, possibly more deeply than the cold rushing up through the soles of your exposed feet or the frosty air seeping slowly in through your nostrils, winding down your windpipe into the tiniest of your alveoli. 

Here in the sacred, bracing temple of the passing night, you will stand appearing to do nothing and doing everything.  You will blink trying to train your eyes upon Mother Moon’s subtle rings, already aware that Father Sun is gently scaling the mountain behind you.  Night into day, into night, into day.  A ceaseless tempo, a never-ending wheel, a dependable rhythm to be counted on like death and taxes.  Seen today, yet present even in invisibility. 

Here there is only silence which is why you rise earlier and earlier to catch this morning quiet.  After the coyotes have howled, before the prairie dogs stir and the Colorado blue birds begin to twitter.  When the shivering starts, as it inevitably will, it is best to turn and place your chilly hand on the door’s steely cold handle.  It is also advisable to look over your shoulder one last time as you push that handle down, but not the sadness you feel at saying goodbye to Mother Moon and her attendant canopy of stars.

You move lightly with only the moonlight to guide you, your cold bare feet caressing the bamboo floor gently, before stepping on to the thick red carpet.  Cautiously, making as little sound as possible, you remove the blanket from your shoulders and lower yourself into the chair, feet now poking out of the blanket that covers you on the footstool that doesn’t match.  In a moment, your hand will reluctantly drop to the floor, searching sightlessly for the paper lantern’s switch.  With a quick inhale, you will push the button and yellow warmth will fill this corner of the room.  The furnace’s heavy puffing will cease; all you will hear is the gentle hum of the refrigerator.

This is your time.  Morning quiet before the day and you begin.  Take a few minutes to sink into what will soon be the remnants of this precious silence; letting the stillness pirouette in your ears.  Savor these moments of wonder.  This is not the time to hurry.  Plenty of time remains to straighten the blanket, to cover your seven exposed toes.  To pick up your pen and notebook.  Choose instead to bask in the pulsing stillness knowing that before long you will reach down to turn off the paper lamp, look up one more time to notice Mother Moon’s reflection on the chrome deck rails, and note the gray clouds of day rushing in.

Staying Grounded in Tricky Times

It’s hot.  There’s a global pandemic.  The election is 96 days away.  Racial and general unrest is rocking our cities.  The short- to mid-term economic outlook is, at best, uncertain.  Tempers flare.  Sparks fly.  Blood pressure rises. 

I am privileged and the fabric of my days has changed dramatically since mid-March.  I go to the market, occasionally get a take-out coffee or meal, meet colleagues and friends on Zoom, and enjoy family photos and phone calls rather than in-person visits.  I wear a mask when I’m out and about.

Strengthened by meditation & prayer

After witnessing a few particularly charged interactions, I decided to share practices that are making it easier for me to stay centered in the hope that you’ll share some of yours as well.  Here they are, in no particular order:

  • For the last 54 days, I’ve risen early and started my day with 45 minutes of meditation and prayer,
  • I’m drinking lots of water – regular and coconut – aiming for roughly half the equivalent of my weight in ounces,
  • I do my best to spend at least as much time performing activities like reading, writing, cooking, weeding as I do on the screen,
  • After dinner, weather-permitting, I spend 20 minutes in the hammock staring up at the clouds, hummingbirds, owls, leaves, butterflies, bees, or whatever is right in front of me,
  • Three to four times a week, we take a 20+ mile bike ride to enjoy nature and move our bodies,
  • Three or four times a week, my yoga mat and I spend an extended time together,
  • When friends come to mind, I send cards, usually by local artists,
  • Appreciating, purchasing, preparing and serving dishes of organic, locally-grown produce has become a daily ritual,
  • I’m working more intently than ever to align my work, purchases and contributions with my values,
  • Sometimes because it’s so energizing, I just let it all go and act silly, laugh and be weird.

It’s definitely true.  There are serious matters at hand.  There have been for centuries and, with any luck, there will continue to be. 

My intention has become to FIRST appreciate the joy and beauty of living and what is working and then move from that place.  I don’t know that the new patterns I’ve formed will change as our world does and I don’t know that they won’t.  My plan is to enjoy them while I can.

Be well, all,


“Teach People How to Treat You”

Teaching people how to treat us frees us to be who we truly are and opens the possibility for genuine connection . . .

Early in my career, a wise and far more worldly colleague leaned over and advised, “you have to teach people how to treat you.”  Given societal norms, organizational structures, power dynamics, and my conceptual, flexible, yet fiery tendencies, this would prove to be no easy feat. 

I was clumsy enough at “teaching people how to treat me” that I once hung up on my largest client who was loudly and angrily addressing an error that had occurred.  After listening for what seemed like a very long time without being given any opportunity to respond, I warned, “I am hanging up now” and returned the phone to the cradle.  Shocked, the client immediately called my supervisor, who immediately called me into the office and said that, while he understood how frustrating the situation must have been, if it happened again, I would “be out.”

Clarity Makes All the Difference . . .

Now, in my second, wiser and more compassionate and confident half of life, it has become decidedly easier to be clear with myself about:

  • my goals and values and how, where and under what circumstances I will invest my time, energy and resources,
  • how I will treat people and the way I want to and expect to be treated,
  • when my needs are not being met and how I will handle such situations,
  • boundary violations and their consequences,
  • how I will handle untenable or unfulfilling situations.

It took me many years to learn NOT to assume or ascribe any particular standards of behavior or sets of values to people based on accomplishments, status, or positional power.  I also learned that “trusting” we were on the same page in haste or for any other reason was likely to have an undesirable outcome. 

I have come to appreciate that the time it takes for people to teach me how to treat them and vice versa is well worth the investment.  A good first step is asking how they prefer to receive information and what pace of work they prefer.  From there we can move to more complex topics like navigating conflict, change, diversity, and ambiguity.  These conversations require my full attention and require that I process the information on a mental, physical, emotional and spiritual level.  I’ve learned that when something doesn’t feel quite right and I have even the slightest reservation, it’s best to step back and assess.   

This sculpture reminds me to take the time needed to see situations clearly . . .

Gaining clarity on preferences, values and all-to-often unspoken agreements allows both parties to 1) experience the process of engaging with one another and 2) to ascertain if this is a relationship that it makes sense to forge and invest in.  Should we decide through this mutually-instructive process, that one or both of us has reservations, we can jointly decide how to address them or if it is best to move in a different direction at this time.

Teach me how to treat you.  I want to learn.  And, I will teach you, too.