just a little more


Mind Wanting More

Only a beige slat of sun
above the horizon, like a shade pulled
not quite down.  Otherwise,
clouds.  Sea rippled here and
there.  Birds reluctant to fly.
The mind wants a shaft of sun to
stir the grey porridge of clouds,
an osprey to stitch sea to sky
with its barred wings, some dramatic
music: a symphony, perhaps
a Chinese gong.But the mind always
wants more than it has —
one more bright day of sun,
one more clear night in bed
with the moon; one more hour
to get the words right; one
more chance for the heart in hiding
to emerge from its thicket
in dried grasses — as if this quiet day
with its tentative light weren’t enough,
as if joy weren’t strewn all around.
~ Holly Hughes ~

(American Zen A Gathering of Poets)



I am in retreat at beautiful Yaddo for a month.  Faraway from routine, from the familiar, from home, from the known.  Artists in retreat  hope to get deeply lost in the work, to find something unexpected, to come up against all that is uncomfortable and unknown and to move with that, through that.  To find treasure along the way.

It is a rare and precious thing to be nourished and supported in this way.  To have the luxury of occasional, luxurious, playful camaraderie with other artists.  To feel the deep, quiet surround of others’ practices.  Appreciation, every moment.



sadie laila

Succorance is the word of the day from Dictionary.com.   It means the act of seeking out affectionate care and social support.  That is what we were doing three months ago when we adopted Sadie Mae, a Sato dog from Dead Dog Beach in Puerto Rico.  We did this in the deep grieving wake of the death of our beloved Jack Russell Terrier, Liam.  Here is Laila finding that same succorance from Liam last summer.


Here are a few of the Sato Project dogs that are available now.  Sadie is not Liam.  Sadie is wonderfully herself, learning how to feel safe, what it is to be loved, to be part of our complicated,big interspecies family.  We would do this again in a heartbeat.

When we nourish another, we nourish ourselves.  My practice with all the animals in my life is to feel how much they are touching me when I am touching them.  How each moment is an exchange, an offering of that “affectionate care and social support” flowing in both directions.



I am missing my daughter like a phantom limb – pain living in the tissue of absence.  Phantom limb pain used to be called a sensory ghost. It is a way in which the nervous system refuses to accept the absence of what was there.

She has become a ghost – an apparition that haunts all of us who knew her.  In Norman Doige’s book, The Brain That Changes Itself, he tells us that for those who have lost a limb, “Long after the body has healed, the pain system is still firing and the acute pain has developed an afterlife.”   Losing a daughter is like an amputation – there is no real turning off the pain signals.

Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen speaks about a way in which the nervous system can regenerate.   What happens when more information comes in than you can process?   To save our lives, we refuse the information.  She says that the trauma goes back into the tissues until it can be processed.  When we do not work to figure it out or change it, little by little, the body-mind finds a way for it to be absorbed.  We do this by choosing the easiest path, which I take to mean waiting the long wait as the system re-calibrates.

When I was studying the Sedona Method, the suggestion was made that when the storm hits, don’t try to ride those waves, but become the sea, dive under and wait it out in the quiet depths of the ocean floor.

Does that help?  Yes and no and then again yes.  Nothing makes us more vulnerable, more tender than our children.  Nothing. Is the pain less searing?  Yes.  Is it gone, no.  The difference is that more and more, I experience myself not as the pain itself but as the awareness that holds it, one breathing moment at a time.