burning bowl

You know what time is it, right? Time for the burning bowl. Time to let go of what needs loosening, what’s used up, what’s outlasted its usefullness. Time to embrace the new, be aspirational, make a date with the Divine Wow.  If you need some help getting started, maybe you can begin with this vid. So long 2014, it was an amazing year!

love and time travel

Most of us have fallen in love with Jamie and Clare. In her own words, Diana Gabaldon talks about her process. It’s priceless. Enjoy . . .and let us know what you think!

the storm that ate my drought


 I love California. Quirky, lovable, yoga-centric California has been very good to me. Still, just six years ago after a bad breakup, I left the state for what I thought was for good. I move to Portland and immediately experienced a “once-a-decade” blizzard that shut the city down and gave me near-pneumonia. Then, two years ago, I got recruited back. Not just to the general California Bay Area population, but to the super-special wine country, home of some of the most valuable vintages on the planet. Yay! It is delicious in about a million ways and I try not to let it go to my head. Sometimes I have to literally pinch myself when, in the rarefied company of people whose names I dare not drop, I find myself . . .

Read more here.

bookly giving

There is no time for classics like the holiday season, and that includes books as well as music. We’ve noticed lately that the seasonal music is a little lighter, a little more fun. So herewith is a holiday classic book giving guide with a frothy little ditty to go with it. Happy shopping — and remember: used books need love too!

  1. One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Beginning with what is quite possibly one of the best first sentences in the history of literature, Garcia Marquez spins a yarn of love, redemption, war, and magic. “Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.”
  2. The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway. The poetic lilt of Hemingway’s dialogue is some of the best ever written and makes me fall in love with words every. Single. Time. “Everyone behaves badly – if given a chance.”
  3. The Diary of Adam and Eve, by Mark Twain. One of Twain’s lesser known works is nonetheless an enchanting lesson in love. “How I wish I could make him understand that a loving good heart is riches enough and that without it intellect is poverty.”
  4. Mrs. Dalloway, by Virginia Woolf. Not an easy read but a dazzlingly brilliant classic. Woolf delivers this Valentine of book in stream-of-consciousness prose and begins with another amazing first line: “Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself.”
  5. A Good Man is Hard to Find, by Flannery O’Connor. This is a collection of short stories that will scare the wits out of you as it nabs you by the collar and whips you around with a command of language that is both naked and forgiving. “She wouldn’t stay at home to be queen for a day.”
  6. The Bean Trees, by Barbara Kingsolver. It’s actually difficult to choose just one Kingsolver novel as a stand-alone but if you must choose, this is a good start: a story about love, friendship, abandonment, putting down roots, and a girl named Turtle. “I had decided early on that if I couldn’t dress elegant, I’d dress memorable.”
  7. Housekeeping, by Marilyn Robinson. There is a haunting quality in Robinson’s work as she writes about the small details of ordinary life. Her examination of the glue that holds our worlds together is at once pointed and astonishing. “You never know when you will see someone for the last time.”
  8. Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse, by Louise Erdrich. If you have any tender sensibilities at all, this writer will pierce your heart. Erdrich’s sense of irony, poetry, and social justice mingle in a tale that is at once outrageous and plain in about a million ways. “To love another human in all of her splendor and imperfect perfection, it is a magnificent task. . .tremendous and foolish and human.”
  9. Ragtime, by EL Doctrow. A literary classic in its own right, Ragtime reaches into the early 20th century to capture the hope and the optimism of immigrants and millionaires in America before the great wars changed everything. “And though the newspapers called the shooting the Crime of the Century, Goldman knew it was only 1906 and there were ninety four years to go.”
  10. Illusions, by Richard Bach. You can never go wrong with a book that contains both magic . . .and a barnstormer with a messiah complex. Deceptive in its simplicity, Bach’s story is an open door into a world beyond the ordinary. “Nothing good is a miracle, nothing lovely is a dream.”

There you have it: a short list of classics. Enjoy the season, and happy reading!

write like a tourist

 bberriesOne way to journal is to forget everything you know about the place you live. You learn to look at the world as if you just popped through a worm hole from some other verdant, vividly lush and distant planet. Instead of going about your regular routines, I bet you would begin to really see the world you inhabit.

How many times do you go about your business and then suddenly realize that you can’t remember the last ten minutes? That you had been on autopilot, with your body operating the family car, stopping at lights and pausing for pedestrians while your mind had zipped off to distant canyons and \ gullies of memory and illusion? You’ve arrived safely and no one was hurt thank goodness, but what would happen if you were fully embodied, fully present, each day of your life? Would you see the world differently?

My vote is yes. It’s a fact that we do not cultivate the practice of notice very well. We are bombarded by television, radio, the Internet, literally thousands of messages a day (the gist of which are of the most dire nature by the way, and another reason to unplug) and so it’s natural that we begin to shut down. In many  cases, shutting down is a natural mechanism of survival. The trouble is, once you begin to shut out the ugly of the world, you inevitably begin to shut out the beautiful and remarkable and miraculous, too.

Almost no one I’ve ever talked to about it thought their story was interesting. But I’ll bet their story is remarkable. They just stopped noticing the details. They forgot that their life was miraculous in about a million ways. So here’s an idea: write about your life like you don’t own it. Write about last Christmas like you’re a staff writer at a big agency and you’re creating a storyboard for a movie that will be seen around the world and sent toward the great, central sun by powerful satellites and viewed by people who have no idea what Santa is about, and why people decorate trees with shiny glass orbs. Explain what your house looks like as if you were describing it to a blind person. Paint a picture with words to describe your dog to a boy who has never seen a dog in his life. Illustrate a journal entry about last night’s dinner with words so smoky and succulent that your nostrils twitch and your stomach howls. Visit your local grocery store like you’re a tourist from Hungary. Have you ever noticed, really noticed, now many different brands of bread there are? How many varieties of potato chips they sell? Go to your local Chamber of Commerce and ask for a directory of members and marvel that people do the kinds of jobs they do. Lick the inside of your wrist and then sniff it to see what your breath smells like. Stop living on auto-pilot! Cultivate an appreciation for each Now that shows up. Now, I reach for my water bottle and the cool liquid slides down my throat. Now, my fingers pull away the skin of an orange. Now, I call on inspiration, and she takes my hand and we walk.

practice, practice::repeat

This advice seems a simple truth. . .and it is. Reading is not just doing nothing!

Author Ian McEwan talks about the writing life.