Jean Marie Gunner

Jean Marie Gunner
We are all basically good.

Monday, August 27, 2012

In Search of True Love (and a Really Decent Beer)

It is daring to go it alone.  It is also fun and liberating and opens up space to meet others and to meet ourselves as well. 
After a full day of biking, cleaning and writing this past Saturday evening, I perched myself upon the top step of my back door stairs, caught a chance wave from my neighbor Jeff, and emptied my mind of the contents of the day.  As a breeze lifted some stray ends of my hair, I decided to do what I do when out of town by myself -- go it alone.  I got in my car to leave my quiet Mayberry of a Village and to have a drink and to dine in the good company of one.  I headed downtown to Canalside and briefly listened to a couple sing an Irish ballad outside the Irish Festival perimeter.  I then meandered down the historic cobblestone of the Canalside District and stared for a moment in silent wonder at the beauty before me -- Buffalo alive and bustling with people. The lights magically twinkling on the still water, the boats, the people, the aliveness of the place.  In that moment, I felt true wonderment.  I could have been standing in any other city in the world, Venice, Chicago, Boston, but I was in my home town.  It was beautiful.

I headed into the military museum and lo and behold a lounge had magically appeared since my last visit to this area in the spring.  Discovering that the restaurant had been there since May and realizing they had a good selection of microbrews on draft from which to choose, I promptly ordered an amber ale and struck up a conversation with two women.  We shared some relaxed conversation; they were both fine, friendly women interested in some of the same things as me like inspired places to go in our city with a good solid local touch.  Where can one go but Buffalo and find such easy conversation and immediate connection within five minutes?

While driving downtown, I had an idea in mind.  I want to go in search of true love, this evening and for the rest of my life.  I would begin by noticing the world and people around me, and if I felt I had an opening, I would ask people their view on this subject and harvest their thoughts and feelings.  I would be a silent witness to this very topic as I move through my life.  This evening would be as good of a place to start as any.

The topic of True Love I guessed would be defined by qualities such as, connection, relationship dynamics, the forces that bring people together, the why and how of worlds colliding, the space between two people and how they navigate that short distance. Such simple but meaningful things as a casual touch or protective posture.
This evening, I met a lovely couple in their early forties from Orchard Park who had ordered a Chardonnay and Grand Marnier to go in plastic tumblers but instead we easily struck up an hour long conversation so their drinks remained in their glasses.  As destiny would have it, we intersected each other’s worlds and they shared with me that they were celebrating 17 years of  marriage.  What better place to start my research than with a couple out on a date night away from the children in celebration of their marriage and love.  I told them about my research and asked them their thoughts and feelings on true love. 

Right away without a second thought, the husband chimed in and said true love is doing what the other person wants to do even when you may not want to.  His wife thought for a second or two more and delivered a more deliberated response about sticking with it (love that is) over the long haul, even when it isn’t easy or pretty, and that true love for her has to do with the great dad that her husband is to her children. I felt that it was the collective combination of sacrifice and loyalty that kept this couple returning over and over again to their love.  And parenting was central in their union.

After some chit chat about work, the husband circled back to the topic of true love and it seemed that for him this question, this emotion, this state of being orbited around family and being able to “go home.”  His question to me was about my parents’ status, if they were living, still married and occupying the family home.  I answered yes to all of these questions.  And, that seemed to say it all for him, about love, life, home, and connection to place.  In his mind, I could still “go home,” my base, where I grew up, from whence I came.  For me though, and possibly I say this out of sense of abundance (since I still do have my childhood home available for me to walk into), my home is where I am planted at any one moment and isn't about my childhood home any longer.  I love the home I have made for my children in "Mayberry" since my divorce years ago but realized only recently that I do not feel as much attachment as I thought to our house, and I feel that I could let go if need be, if circumstances required.   

My newfound friends chatted on about parenting and raising our kids with the values we find important and if we are actually instilling in them a sense of right and wrong in this very busy, digitally-driven, electronic, on-the-go-world. Again, we arrived at the conclusion, and maybe this was only the alcohol relaxing us into complacency, that the mere mention of the words, “right values,” says it all, that it indicates we are good parents, and we really do give a darn and will stop at nothing to continue exerting ourselves to do the right thing by our children.  We swallowed our last sip of our drinks, and I asked them to walk me to my car since the late summer sun had long since dipped beneath the Canadian horizon.  I gave them each a warm embrace for escorting me safe and sound to my car and headed home to Mayberry. 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Smiling Balloons


 “Did you know I always thought you were braver than me? Did you ever guess that that was why I was so afraid? It wasn't that I only loved some of you. But I wondered if you could ever love more than some of me."

J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan


On a recent bike ride I felt my mind open up.  As my body was working, my heart rate accelerating and delivering more oxygen to my limbs and brain, I found space to consider the kind of job I am doing as a parent.  I pondered the question of nurturing versus enabling.  Certainly it takes a great deal of paying attention and discernment to sense when we have crossed the boundary from helpful to rescue.  But when life is bearing down on us, as it does throughout the busy work week, and with school soon to be starting up again, do I have it in me to continue this parenting work.  Really what other choice is there?  It is coming towards me and my boys are growing up and the game board is changing.  There are new challenges arriving on schedule or beforehand opening up a whole new arena of struggle.  Am I up to the task? What kind of support do I need, and who can run interference for me?

Recently I have had some wake up calls.  Relationships, major shifts in domestic situation and my health have all required that I pay attention and awaken a bit more, all very helpful for my waking up and confidence building but still the question of when to give more and when to back off seems ambiguous and I am just so darn tired some days.

My bike riding and meditating have helped keep me in a routine of contentment and even joyfulness.  Certain choices each day help keep me awake and maintain my poise and composure with a sense of gentleness and fearlessness, at least some of the time. 

And the very simple and precious blessings of connection reign supreme.  There are these special moments that happen right before our very eyes.  Their true and lasting meaning comes from our paying attention.  As an illustration: last Wednesday my youngest son and I shared some special moments after I came home tired from work; I could have chosen to start doing household tasks but I instead read the situation, his mood, his need, and I set everything aside to really pay attention and to engage in the moment with him.  It took very little effort; the exertion came from my decision to slow down and notice.

Aidan was playing with a remote controlled car on our asphalt driveway.  We live in Mayberry, USA.  A small happy village nestled among other villages and towns south of Buffalo.  It is a friendly, cheerful place with very little neighborly drama at least that I can tell.  As he maneuvered his car along the driveway, he decided he needed to draw some roadways.  Remarkably and to his delight, I found some white chalk kicking around in a cupboard and we drew a curvy roadway with roadblocks and parking spaces for his tiny car to traverse.  I helped by putting aside my ideas of how to design the highway system and be directed instead by my eleven year old.  There I stood as an archway for the little car to travel under.  I did downward dog for an extra exciting obstacle course.  Somewhere along the line I lost my adult self and found myself magically having a lot of fun, laughing, really giggling at this car that reminded me of a mouse zipping around my legs sometimes ramming into my bare feet.  I was no longer there, Aidan was no longer there; there was only this spry little mouse, Stuart Little, bounding from one side of the driveway to the other, side to side, up and down, finding his way to our street and onto the adjacent street. 

On that next side street, Aidan discovered the gooey stickiness of the tar used to repair the side street and plopped himself down on the cushiony buoyancy of the black strips laid down whimsically in a fashion that seemed more haphazard than logical.  He yanked at some of the black goo to form a ball while I sped his Stuart Little car along the roadway for a time alas forgetting we were playing in the middle of the street.

With that toy’s enjoyment exhausted, we decided, only after minimal convincing on my part, to go for a bike ride.  We stopped on Main Street, USA for the quintessential American ice cream cone and then traveled onto our Village plaza to one of the million Dollar Stores, which presently dots every corner of our nation.  As I waited outside, he went in to make his emergency purchase of two air horns and two helium happy face yellow Mylar balloons.  While I stood there patiently reading the life-size advertisements adorning the store window, “chicken thigh for a dollar,” I pondered, ‘Who purchases chicken at the Dollar Store?’  In my arrogance, the reality shone through, there are no doubt a good many that benefit from the cheap chicken in this store, quality aside, and it was possibly the only meat some people could afford to put on their supper table.

My thoughts were interrupted as Aidan exited the store with two big smiling balloons.  This memory just leaves such an impression on me.  The smile on his face was equally as big and bright as his balloons.  That moment rendered me breathless, filling my heart to breaking.  There was no other person with whom I’d rather be.  This moment was perfect in its simplicity; it was complete.

I took his plastic bag and he wound the helium balloons around his wrists for the ride home.  Two bouncing happy faced balloons riding along with two happy faced humans in Mayberry.  Our last stop would be his father’s house so he could zip upstairs quickly ring his doorbell and run off before his father could answer the door.  Ring and run leaving behind a smiling balloon and his love and adoration for his dad.

Charm Bracelet


“I knew I'd miss you. But the surprising thing is, you never leave me. I never forget a thing. Every kind of love, it seems, is the only one. It doesn't happen twice. And I never expected that you could have a broken heart and love with it too, so much that it doesn't seem broken at all.”


 “You know that place between asleep and awake, the place you can still remember dreaming? That's where I will always love you, that's where I will be waiting.”


Life is a mix of conflicting emotions, difficult times, joyous occasions, banal tasks, random occurrences, absurdities, trivialities, momentous events, births, deaths, changes, moments that take one’s breath away, moments that take one’s life away.

Looking only at concepts versus seeing the true workings of things, the contextual framework of the why and the how and the when, is like riding a bike without understanding the bike’s gear box and the way it switches between high and low gear, similar to how the mind and heart are wired and related to one another and the shifting between thinking and feeling and back again.  Are the mind and heart really so different or are they one and the same connected by pulses and switches of energy?

Often we are so focused on the fixed events, the past and its commensurate hurts and trials and sufferings.  The truth is there are obstacles and a habitual fixation on the past; the unalterable fixed part of the equation is the past and still we grasp it so tightly.  But which past do we believe, the one that has happened, or the other one that we think happened, or the one that we cling to in our mind.  The past is done and whether we find ourselves in the past or future, wherever, or more specifically whenever we are, the point we find ourselves in is our present.  It is good to be there as that is where the best chance for connection is, the true unwavering, sometimes uncomfortable place of vulnerability and softening and opening of human kinship.  We find our connection with others, human or otherwise in this present state of awareness.  And a set of variables does exist, we the individuals with free will and ability to make choices are the variables.  Despite past choices and the consequences, there are present choices that will surely impact the future.

Wherever or whenever we are is the present and whether time is linear or circular or counterclockwise or conical or spherical or moving in a vortex like a tornado, we are in a present, some present, and what we do with the time we have or how we choose to be, is the variable.  I think we sometimes are afraid to act, to make a decision, to make the wrong decision. The cause and effect of all our actions, our karma, is inevitable for to do nothing is also to act.  To become inert, immobile frightened by movement is to begin to die and implode, fold in upon oneself, lose oneself to one’s fear.  As I explained to my son during our recent family trip to New England that when one reacts with anger, one is no doubt feeling fearful, dubious in the present moment.  Yet the truth of the present moment, even if it is one of fear and doubt, is the truth of the moment, however uncomfortable.  It is in the next moment that we can reconcile with the prior moment; our new present. What joy, what opportunity!

Having a mindfulness practice can settle all this fear and dust of our mind; and realizing we are fundamentally all okay and alone, yet intricately, undeniably and unpredictably connected.  When we connect with one another in a mindful way, it feels more authentic, richer, and open.

Love and loving makes us healthier and that means loving whomever we are with at the moment -- our children, our friends, our parents, our neighbors, perfect strangers, our spouse, our lover.  Holding onto resentment and disappointment, guarantees that our prior heartbreaks will keep breaking us by keeping us in a loop of anger and fear.  The majority of us fear loving again or letting ourselves be loved again since it means risking getting hurt, experiencing yet another  broken heart.  This is a struggle we create.  Holding onto the resentment and anger is the obstacle; heartaches get better through time.  We have the option of pressing the reset button in the next present moment. 
There is always someone waiting to love us or be loved, moving towards us.  We are moving in and out of one another’s fields all day long, all lifelong.  It is a very potent way to view life and very spacious.  This does not mean that a loss of a loved one ought to be trivialized, on the contrary, a loved one, whether they died or chose to leave us, really is hurtful and disappointing, yet is a jewel, a charm on our life’s charm bracelet.  I have been given two charm bracelets in my life; my mom gave me one as a child bedecked with a Mexican Sombrero dancing on the end of it; another that was given to me by a former love and has recently been lost.  The bracelet gone, the relationship over, yet, our love that existed in the past endures and is a charm that I have added to my life’s bracelet.

When difficult moments arise, challenging circumstances, painful times of immense or small suffering, there is the certainty that they will pass.  The fundamental truth that we all know is that all moments come and go.  This is in no way to diminish the moment’s pain, it is essential to recognize the sadness in the moment, and alternately the joy in the moment as well.  Some moments there may be the sense or feeling to lean into them, other moments of emotional difficulty it may be like thoughts, touching them briefly and letting them travel on.  Add all the love and hurt as charms to your life's charm bracelet and wear it with fearlessness and daring, and an open, gentle heart.


(Beloved Quotes by J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Chocolate Cream Pie: A Meditation



Aidan dropped the chocolate cream pie

I spent an hour preparing

My little boy was only in pre-k

He went to take a look at his favorite dessert

Setting up in the refrigerator

His kid-sized hands reached up to better see

To feel, to taste

His sensations took over, compelling his arms forward

His small frame standing atop tippy toes

With begging hands reaching up

Down toppled the chocolate pie onto the floor waiting below

Where he stood shocked and surprised

His happy moment shattered

Because he knew he had to tell his mama

And that she would probably yell


Even writing this I feel a twinge of sadness, see his tear stained cheeks and hear the echo of his sobs through time.  He is nearly twelve and entering Middle School in a couple of weeks; and still I am sorry for my sharp response, my reaction and my angry defense as if he meant it, as if he really meant to reach up into that refrigerator and drop that pie.  It is absurd to think back on my harshness, almost humorous, as if for him witnessing a beloved chocolate pie tumble to the floor by his little boy feet wasn’t punishment enough. 

I extend gentleness to myself sitting here on my meditation mat listening to the wind and the water and traffic and my neighbor’s breathing.  My heart yearns to love that little boy who dropped the pie, my heart yearns to love my neighbors, my heart yearns to love myself in that long past moment of yelling at Aidan and my heart yearns to love myself right now in this moment.

It was a sad moment, an accident very easily remedied and cleaned up; some accidents cannot be fixed so simply.  And, it makes me remember and laugh a little at my harsh response, wondering why I yelled so loudly. I remember hugging him a few minutes later and his hugging me right; even more delicious than a chocolate cream pie.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Making Love a Centerpiece

“In the course of twenty crowded years one parts with many illusions.  I did not wish to lose those early ones.  Some memories are realities, and are better than anything that can ever happen to one again.”

In my writing I get inspired with one word, or quote, or thought, or insight – and the essay takes off, similar to the way I decorate my home.  I find one ceramic tile, or a contrasting colored kitchen cupboard, or a richly dyed area rug, and I build the interior decoration around this centerpiece.  Making something or someone the centerpiece of our life, our heart, can seem like very risky venture, but the wholeness we find by becoming vulnerable, by loving, is well worth all the risk of possible heartbreak.

In love, I perceive a reflection or dream about how love would look in my life.  In fact the view of love now at this age is much clearer and more vibrant.  What is tricky though in love and falling in love quickly with just a first impression, is that in love, we carry many preconceived notions, old wounds, ongoing stubborn habitual patterns, no matter how worn out and unhelpful they may now be.  Usually if we are honest, red flags go up and because we either like the way a person looks and feels when we are with him, we choose consciously to ignore the warning signs.

If we are clear about the inspirational centerpiece for us and whittle down to the essential qualities that we value and esteem above all else, and we contemplate these, practice these, envision these for us in a relationship, we can be perhaps more easily honest with ourselves when a person veers so far from this true north, this centerpiece we need to be happy and make a break before getting in too deep.  

I see that the business of being human is the business of loving.  The probability is that there is less life ahead of me than behind me at this point, so that means love takes on qualities of lightness, daring and exertion.  Loving is both about the joy and the discipline.  Loving, like learning an instrument, takes an alchemical combination of qualities and reveling in the simple magic and joy of making music combined with willingly and courageously exerting oneself to learn something new and sticking with it through an act of discipline.  And not giving up even if we do not think we are good enough or progressing fast enough.  I have uncovered the top layer of the mystery of music over the last five years of studying the guitar. Ultimately though as with the guitar, loving is about jumping in and playing!

It feels like a good time to love at this point in my life.  It feels right to risk and be vulnerable and even experience a heart break or two.  If something is worth doing or having or embracing, it is worth touching the tender heart of sadness as a sacrifice. It is an auspicious time to take risks and step out of my oyster shell.  I have certainly been studying and practicing loving way longer than the guitar and only recently have I received some clarity and understanding.  By chipping away my self-absorption and softening and surrendering, have I realized that there is another person in the mix.  I mean that seems obvious but how often do we over think, focusing on ourselves too much, and our own wounds and pain and needs and say, ‘What am I getting out of this relationship or is it worth the risk of pain or irritation or heart break?’

This does not mean that the path of love is paved with complete clarity for me, free from obstacles and challenges.  No, there are obstacles remaining and struggles within myself and no doubt will there be struggles with others.  It is just that I know this now and I want to appreciate the other person.  I want to trust and have faith that I will be cherished and protected and loved and that I am worth that just as the other person is worth that.  We are each a mirror for the other and when one is valued, so is the other. 

It is simply that a certain modicum of mindfulness is possible with practice, and as far as loving is concerned, it is very helpful to stay present with body and mind to the circumstances and situations of each moment.

If we are paying attention in the moment of now, when someone walks into our life, or walks back in, we can intuit if this might be a relationship that is workable for us.  We feel the meaning of the connection within moments.  It is clear to me that my forties are not a time to go about rescuing or saving anyone from their own harmful patterns.  Understanding that habitual patterns make up all of our existences and that we all struggle with something is essential; it is really up to each one of us notice what is in truth happening and take responsibility for whether a healthy relationship is possible.  For once we begin treading the path of rescuing; the oxygen of the relationship begins to diminish.  None of us really wants to or enjoys being rescued and if we begin that pattern, further manifestations of insecurity, smothering, grasping will follow only decreasing the precious genuine connection that we experienced initially. 

If we feel ourselves attaching to perceived outcomes, it is time to take a breath or three and breathe in very consciously the peace and joy we felt right in the beginning of falling in love.  Take some time away and let the other know we need a bit of space.  Inform the other person with as much precision, gentleness and confidence you can muster.  Even if it feels like you are faking it at first, the form of confidence and gentleness will seem natural and authentic after some practice. 

For me the centerpiece for loving is about companionship and mutual support for our own unique creative paths and missions.  This is a very concise description of what love and loving someone and being loved by another means.  Qualities of honesty, loyalty, presence to one another in the moment and spaciousness are all ingredients that make up a recipe of healthy, grown-up love.  The great secret which we should talk about is that it is really time to come into our own, and there is way less confusion and drama of our twenties and the new parenting exhaustion and career fatigue of our thirties. With age, comes wisdom so why not acknowledge that? With any luck, we are still in fine health and we have the wisdom of four or so decades of being human behind us.  We have only now and we might as well be present in the now we find ourselves and in the loving relationships we cherish.

There is a newly found freedom to love another with a genuine open heart of acceptance and appreciation and forgiveness.  Accepting and forgiving the other person for who they are; these are really only different sides of the same coin.  Just as we want and need to be accepted and forgiven.  In that openness, a natural appreciation shines through; we radiate our authentic selves for all to see, even for ourselves to see when we look in the mirror or another’s eyes.

For love to grow and be healthy, it takes nourishment.  This means our energy and keen awareness.  And it takes exertion.  Just to sit back and say well we are in love and all the rest of it will work out is unrealistic and naïve.  We all come from some sort of wounded backgrounds.  To be human is to suffer and experience a wound or many depending on our backgrounds.  It is okay to suffer as suffering gifts us with a sense of compassion if we open our wounded hearts deeply and honestly.  We need not continue to suffer unnecessarily though.  We become not only more compassionate but also more intelligent and softer, warmer toward fellow beings.  Yielding and vulnerability are lovely qualities that help us to be more human and more in touch with others on earth. 

Growing old with someone, to care for that person in their sickness and need with compassion and attention to their individuality; to listen with open hearted tenderness; to hold them in their pain; to stroke their forehead as they die; to hold their hand as they leave this life.  This is what we humans were born to do for one another.  Fear is what stands in the way of true love, fear and only fear.  The antidote to fear is love, love rooted in loving kindness, gentleness and fearlessness.

(Quote from My Antonia, Willa Cather)

August Wishes

Every year it happens, summer arrives with much anticipation in our hearts; then we find ourselves in the midst of the end of August.  Summer’s intense light and heat have faded a bit; the birds have quieted and all their young have left the nest.  Even the cicadas sing with a different pitch, quieter, less feverish. 

We are building a new school year in our minds, with new beginning of school aspirations.  For me, these are: my boys will walk to school each day (no more driving them); they will make their lunches the night before and pack veggies and fruits to match their carb-loaded snacks; and we will keep the electronics and television off during the school week so homework will be done before dinner enabling us all to get a good night’s sleep. These are my wishes; we will see.

I am sitting outside on this lovely cool August Sunday morning writing and wishing and contemplating this upcoming school year.  My oldest is preparing to enter his freshman year of high school; my youngest is making his way to Middle School.  Big changes mixed with a bit of trepidation on this mom’s part. 

We had spent our 2nd annual summer vacation at a Family Camp at Karmê Chöling Shambhala Meditation Center in Northeastern Vermont.  The highlights of our journey are etched more in our mindset and the sense of relaxation that we carry forward with us in our lives.  This annual experience of taking time out to be together without the distraction of electronics and cell phones and to simply celebrate our existence in our natural world is a memory that we carry throughout the year.  There is truly something magical about camping with 200 other moms and dads and their children outdoors in all kinds of weather for eight nights.  Eating outdoors, camping in tents in a high meadow, meditating together, walking in the forest in quiet contemplation of our unique presence and connection on earth, being tested by the elements, smiling cheerfully, sharing chores together, forming lifetime friendships and saying goodbye through tears and laughter.

I courageously drive over thousand miles to Vermont, then points further east to Maine to visit friends and the North Atlantic ocean with my sons.  It is an alchemical blend of relaxing, exhausting, surrendering, eye opening and touching to experience all this with my children.  Having spent the better part of my last twenty years in a marriage, then a long term relationship after my divorce, I am single again, co-parenting two young dynamic men.  I am really fine but on a walk alone yesterday at Knox State Farm while my boys sat and read their required summer reading in the car, I contemplated what my next relationship might look like.

It looks like this – holding hands along a walking path, picnicking on a Sunday afternoon, laying back in the grass and together watching the clouds drift in the summer sky, dancing closely to a quiet love song in the dining room.  It looks quiet and steady.  It feels authentic and honest.  I must say the craze that came over our country recently with the Fifty Shades of Gray book (which I have not read and have no desire to) cemented my view of what is important to me in a future loving relationship.  How about an old fashioned, slower, more patient love?  How about courtship and civility?  I would rather read a classic novel any day; Jane Austen, Willa Cather, or Leo Tolstoy are all welcome to keep me company through the upcoming fall and long winter nights.  They offer enough love and decency and imagination for a lifetime that is bursting and full. 

And I say enough of all that quick rather unfulfilling texting and emailing!  Does anyone remember the joy in receiving a notecard penned and signed by a friend or love?  After a dinner party this summer, I received a lovely handwritten thank you note from a friend.  This is a fine testament to the values of humanity and good manners that I cherish.  All of this a true counterpoint to the fast paced, fifty shades of whatever culture. 

Just as I sit peacefully and contentedly here on my back patio this quiet Sunday morning writing an essay, with my sons off somewhere reading their summer books, and I sipping my coffee with cream, I know that this school year will be here in a flash but I intentionally decide to let love take its time for me and know that someday I will be looking up in that blue sky quietly amazed by cloud formations shaping and reshaping side by side with whomever he might be. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

I Smile Despite...

The first of August seems to mark a passage.  At nine o’clock in the eveing it is already dark; the days are getting shorter, less daylight by which to work in the garden, by which to play in the yard, by which to breathe in the summer’s seemingly endless laziness. 

I am immensely blessed and I acknowledge my blessings, despite some of the things in my life I feel are lacking.  I am a healthy independent woman with two amazing children despite some of our familial shortcomings and my parenting difficulties.  I sit here typing out this short essay listening to the twang of a somewhat obscure female country/folk vocalist.  I imagine myself playing these songs on my guitar, fantasizing the purchase of a twelve-string guitar.  Hmmm, what can I sell to make that purchase so I can let my fingers dance across those twelve resonant strings and hold them down singing these ballads that speak directly to the heart of matters?

Tonight after a ten mile bike loop along the side of the creek that runs through private lands and a brief respite at a friend’s house for a sit and a swallow of water, I continued on home to fix my supper.  On this summer August evening, it felt good to crack open a beer and throw a strip steak on the grill.  I just sat and gave thanks for my quiet time as my boys spend the evening with their papa.  Then a little face peeked through the opening in my yard, my six year old neighbor looking for her sister.  It always feels good to have visitors despite my sacred quiet time.  I welcome the company; I welcome the sweet humanity that surrounds me and my life despite feeling so alone sometimes. 

Trees filled with cicadas serenaded me from above as I feasted.  Feasting on the fresh food before me, feasting on the sounds of the world around me, feasting on the friends and neighbors that touch my life daily, feasting on the abundance in all its forms despite the occasional clinging and grasping and hoping and wishing for just a little bit more in my life. 

On my bike ride I always stop mid-point on the bridge above the creek to catch my breath and the occasional glimpse of a Great Blue Heron, an ancient looking bird that feels primordial reminding me of a time before history. I take a drink and give a moment of thanks despite my sometimes sadness. 

As I wrap up this little vignette listening to the this love song, “Lets steal the sun before it steals tonight…,” and the laughter of the neighborhood children on this warm evening as the first of August comes to a close, I know it is long about time to begin the task of packing up for a camping trip up to Vermont and Maine with my sons.  I am thankful they still want to travel with their mama.  I smile despite knowing that someday these journeys will come to an end.  I smile because of this moment.  I smile despite….