30 November 2010

Birds Nesting Near The Coast

I took these photos this weekend to illustrate a wonderful Rumi poem from Ruth's marvelous Rumi Days that speaks of them and of the need to love ourselves. The Cathedral is St. John the Divine in St. John's, Antigua.

Soul, if you want to learn secrets,
your heart must forget about shame
and dignity.

You are God's lover,
yet you worry what people are saying.

The rope belt the early Christians wore
to show who they were, throw it away.

Inside you are sweet beyond telling,
and the cathedral there,
so deeply tall.

Evening now, more your desire
than a woman's hair.

And not knowledge,
walk with those innocent of that.,

faces inside fire, birds nesting
near the coast, earning their beauty,

servants to the ocean. There is a sun
within every person, the you
we call companion.


25 November 2010

Fiercely Grateful

I used to Keep a gratitude journal. Each day I made myself write 5 specific, concrete things I was grateful for that day. It helped me through a dark time, kept me grounded in goodness, and saved my emotional life until I could know again that the world is a friendly place.

Every year at Thanksgiving, I go back to this practice to remind myself of great grace in my life, The gifts I've been given and all that I am grateful for. This year my list is long. Not just longer but bigger in it's scope from living internationally and all the blessings that have come from that. It's like the world has offered itself to me.

I'm grateful for my family, for the love and constancy that we offer one another, the deepening friendships happening among us, and the laughter and fun we have together. Especially John. How can I express the awe I feel that after 37 years together, he is my best friend, favorite companion, and makes me laugh out loud more than ever.

I'm grateful for my friends, old friends who hold the memories of a lifetime in precious hands even while we make new ones with them, with their kids, with their grand kids. What wealth we share. And new friends who bring the fresh possibilities of new ways of looking at things that stretch me, enrich me and keep me fresh, too. My blog friends are in this group. I'm pleased to have sojourners and seekers to share this journey with.

I'm grateful for meaningful work which provides me a way to give back, to help those taking tentative steps toward health, to lend my knowledge, experience and love to those who need it, who bask in it or grab it hungrily and then go forward and do likewise. It's a glorious spiral, a sacred dance.

I'm grateful for books, my passion for them, my ability to get lost in them, my abiding affection for the characters I come to know and treasure. They shake me up and let me into worlds I'd have no other way of knowing. They excite me every time.

I'm grateful for nature and the physicalness of being out in it. The walking, hiking, running- using my body, having it respond, stay healthy, feel good and discover the rush. The sea and the mountains that call me and keep me interacting with them,  that intoxicate me, that teach me the connectedness of all life, the spiritual essence of what I have come to believe.

For all this, for all you, I am fiercely grateful.

23 November 2010

Sharing the Caribbean Life

A funny thing happened to me on the way to the gym last evening:

And from this morning before my run under the not so funny but kind of cute category, otherwise known as the reason you shake out shoes in the Caribbean before putting them on:

21 November 2010

We're Not In Italy Now!

Remember when I described my long runs on Sundays in Italy on the wide walking path by the beach alongside the Adriatic? And it goes for miles, flat and paved and lovely? Well, there's no such thing in Antigua, by a long shot. So long runs, like my nine mile run this morning, get cobbled together any which way to cover the distance.

The good news was I got to run with my friend, Cassandra, who's great company and knows the roads well. The route? A combination of paved main road (but no sidewalks), dirt side roads (but it rained last night), semi-paved (don't ask!) side roads, and even a golf course for our final mile. Good thing it was Sunday and early (we started at 5:30), so not much traffic. Also, good thing it was cloudy and a passing shower cooled us , since the run took longer than we expected because of the treacherous terrain.

But somehow the effort and the obstacles faded when towards the end of the run, a full double rainbow appeared, bright and beautiful. It was the brightest and longest lasting rainbow either of us had ever seen. It was a moment of grace that lifted us up. All we talked about from that moment was how good we felt, how energized, how blessed.

And, driving back, I had a good laugh at who I shared the road with:

And later, I'm going to this beach for a swim:

I agree, I have nothing to complain about!

19 November 2010

Friday Photo

This plant grows outside my office window. It had rain drops on it yesterday glistening in the sun. I think she's very beautiful.

17 November 2010


Even though Crossroads is a specialty program for drug and alcohol treatment, sometimes it's simple, human kindness that makes a difference. This morning I was entering the building where I work and met a new client who looked a little rough around the edges and lost.

"How can I help you? You look lost."
"I'm not lost. I just don't know where my room is." (I'm not sure what the difference is!)
"Let me show you. Would you like a cup of tea?"
"Tea? Okay."

So we sat and sipped tea and it tasted good. That was all. The she went back to bed.

At Crossroads we stress the importance of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual healing. I like being part of these healing moments.

14 November 2010


I'm here at Crossroads in Antigua consulting to the nursing and wellness staff for six weeks. I get to do work that I love with people I admire and like. I'm grateful.

Crosssroads' program is 4 or 6 weeks and includes detox from alcohol and drugs and rehab. It's an effective and wonderful program founded by Eric Clapton for those who, like him, struggle with addiction. His message, recovery is possible, treatment works. If you or a loved one is looking for a way out of the chaos that addiciton brings, give me, Mary, or our admissions coordinator, Adrienne, a call. Really. 1-268-562-0035. It's all confidential.

Some photos of our beautiful setting:

Where I'm staying.

Bouganvillea everywhere, pink, peach, purple, in full bloom.

Half Moon Bay beach where I swam today.

It's a healing environment.

12 November 2010

Jessica Jackley: Poverty, money -- and love | Video on TED.com

When I heard this talk, it resonated with the thoughts and feelings I've had regarding that big, amorphous group, the poor, and what I personally could do about it. This young woman wanted to help and founded a wonderful internet organization, Kiva,  to provide microloans to those who need them to lift themselves out of poverty. It's an amazingly effective program that is now the 6th leading source of microloans. And it has a 98% repayment rate.

Check it out. You can join and loan (as little as $25.00) to whomever you choose individually or join a group and lend with them to multiply your power. Then you're paid back and can loan again. It's specific, it's personal, it works because each applicant decides for themselves what's best for them to do with the money in their area.

They have a Blogger loan group. They have a Woman to Woman loan group that specifies it's loans for women in the belief that aiding women and children is the best way to benefit a society. They have all kinds of loan groups. People across the globe get connected.

This is a brilliant idea! What do you think?

Jessica Jackley: Poverty, money -- and love | Video on TED.com

What is Kiva:

Kiva's mission is to connect people, through lending, for the sake of alleviating poverty.
Kiva empowers individuals to lend to an entrepreneur across the globe. By combining microfinance with the internet, Kiva is creating a global community of people connected through lending.

Kiva was born of the following beliefs:
  • People are by nature generous, and will help others if given the opportunity to do so in a transparent, accountable way.
  • The poor are highly motivated and can be very successful when given an opportunity.
  • By connecting people we can create relationships beyond financial transactions, and build a global community expressing support and encouragement of one another.
Kiva promotes:
  • Dignity:   Kiva encourages partnership relationships as opposed to benefactor relationships. Partnership relationships are characterized by mutual dignity and respect.
  • Accountability:   Loans encourage more accountability than donations where repayment is not expected.
  • Transparency:   The Kiva website is an open platform where communication can flow freely around the world.
As of November 2009, Kiva has facilitated over $100 million in loans.

05 November 2010


I leave tomorrow on my travels and I'm feeling kind of nostalgic, or I'm not sure exactly what. Like serious, pensive, thoughtful. I'm leaving for 3 months and it's the longest my Honey and I have ever been apart. Still, it's  all good. 6 weeks at Crossroads in Antigua where I worked for 2 1/2 years (before moving to Italy) to help out while one of their administrators is on leave. I love it there, the work and the staff and reconnecting with old friends.

Then, for 2 months around Christmas, to Trinidad where my daughter, her husband and two children live. My Honey joins me there to give us a month together. Hooray! A nice long stretch of family time is balm to my spirit, for sure. Interacting with my grandchildren in their environment gives me a whole new appreciation for them. It cements our relationship as well since I get to know them in their own home and appreciate how it shapes them.

Then the final stretch in FL for a half marathon. Unique this time is that my daughter is running in the same half-marathon as me. This is a first for us and we'll be joined by a couple of my nieces for yet another first. Last year I ran the full marathon by myself. It's the National Breast Cancer Marathon in Jacksonville, Florida on February 13 and the last 10 days of my journey. Other nieces, their children and my sister-in-law will be there to cheer us on so it will be great family fun.

So, I'm excited about each phase of my journey and looking forward to each for different reasons. The work, because I love and believe in it and know that treatment changes lives. Family time because this is where my heart is happiest and my roots are deepest and the sprouts are growing and I get to tend/love them to fuller life. And the running because I can when others can't, and I feel good doing it and it makes my body healthier so I can live longer and it shows another choice for how to age to my daughter and granddaughter and nieces.

But still, there's this other indefinable feeling going on. I guess sometimes we're mysteries even to ourselves until clarity happens. Maybe it's the thought, not yet reality, of missing John. I don't know. I'll keep in touch.

03 November 2010

Miwa Matreyek's glorious visions | Video on TED.com

I offer this as an antidote to the noise around us that can keep us from making our own discoveries.

About this talk

Using animation, projections and her own moving shadow, Miwa Matreyek performs a gorgeous, meditative piece about inner and outer discovery. Take a quiet 10 minutes and dive in. With music from Anna Oxygen, Mirah, Caroline Lufkin and Mileece.

About Miwa Matreyek

Miwa Matreyek creates performances where real shapes and virtual images trade places, amid layers of animation, video and live bodies. 

Miwa Matreyek's glorious visions | Video on TED.com

This also introduces the wonderful world of TED.com to those who haven't discovered it up to now. It's a rich source of information and inspiration that, needless-to-say, isn't covered in the popular media. How fabulous to have the splendors of the best thinkers and doers in the world sharing their stories.

01 November 2010

My Neighbor's Field

It really needs no introduction, I don't know the story behind it or quite how he did it, but this HUGE heart greeted our whole neighborhood and stayed for weeks as we drove down the hill:

It had everyone buzzing, speculating and smiling. It's amazing how we influence each other.