Category Archives: The River of Stones 2012

Small Stone: Day 24

Small Stone: Headstand

Upside down, love rushes towards you.
Surrender, effort, release, engagement.
Take care.
Be mindful.
Remember your intention.
When you are ready, when you are done–gently let go.
Thank goodness the wall is there.
Thank goodness the teacher is there.
Thank goodness for headstands in yoga.

image by formulapuff

Small Stone: Day 23

Small Stone: the Train

While sitting in group meditation, Sunday morning at the Fort Collins Shambhala Meditation Center, a train goes past. When it blows its horn, it’s so loud I can feel it echo in my chest, vibrate in my heart. I feel awake and in my body, aware of my tender open heart, and mindful of all the bodies and hearts of those around me, in the room and beyond.

image by cassandra turner

Small Stone: Day 22

Small Stone: Stones and Shells

I grew up in the Willamette Valley, just a few hours from the Oregon Coast. I spent many hours walking the long, flat, sandy beaches of Lincoln County, leaving a string of foot prints, listening to the waves, staring out at the water, and looking for treasures.

Now that I live in Colorado, I still make it back once a year by myself, and every other year, Eric and I take the dogs and rent a house in Waldport (“Where the Forest Meets the Sea”), usually staying for about a month–this will be one of those summers. Being at the ocean, that specific coastline and place, is medicine to me. I feel whole and at ease, closer to the Divine, at peace. Sadly, the climate (rainy, gray, cold) wears me down after too long, and I can’t live there, but must visit regularly, and I carry that place inside of me when I am away from it.

Secret Mission #1

I have jars and bowls and piles, collections all over my house, of agates, rocks, and shells I’ve found over the years. When I was looking for a book this morning, I noticed a set of three lotus bowls filled with rocks, agates, two sandollars the size of dimes, and various broken, smooth bits of shells. They sit next to a picture of one of my favorite beaches, Cape Lookout. It’s further up the coast than we normally travel, a three mile hike through the forest that ends in a small, private curve of beach. If you hike the other way, up and out to the point instead of down, you can watch the migrating whales.

The memory of the beach, the ocean, the waves, the peace of that place, brings joy and stillness to me, even as my body stands in my living room in landlocked Colorado, with its blue skies, river, and mountains. The truth is, both places are home.

Small Stone: Day 21

Small Stone: 2012 Reading List

As part of my resolve for this year, I made a list of all the books I wanted to read. Some of the books I’ve read before, even twice, but many are new to me. The list is only non-fiction, because fiction for me is pure pleasure and I want to leave those textual choices up to chance, desire, whimsy. As for non-fiction, there is a plan.

I collected and organized the books on a shelf in my studio. It seemed auspicious that they so neatly and perfectly fit on a single shelf. All but one (The War of Art) are ones I already owned before making the list.

As I was writing this morning, I thought of one that I wanted to look at, turned to view the shelf, and felt a wave of open-hearted appreciation and joy. Look at all the great things I get to read, to learn about, to contemplate! For the hundredth time, I think “this is going to be a really good year.”

My 2012 Reading List

Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt into Fuel for Brilliance by Jonathan Fields
Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg
Old Friend from Far Away: The Practice of Writing Memoir by Natalie Goldberg
The Right to Write: an Invitation and Initiation into the Writing Life by Julia Cameron
Dog Years by Mark Doty
Fearless Confessions: a Writer’s Guide to Memoir by Sue William Silverman
Now Write! Nonfiction Edited by Sherry Ellis
The Sound of Paper: Starting from Scratch by Julia Cameron
Art & Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking by David Bayles and Ted Orland
The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield
A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf

Working/Living, Eating, and Self-Love, Self-Care
Women Food and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything by Geneen Roth
I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn’t): Telling the Truth about Perfectionism, Inadequacy, and Power by Brene’ Brown
The Comfort Queen’s Guide to Life: Create All That You Need with Just What You’ve Got by Jennifer Louden
The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
Life Is a Verb: 37 Days to Wake Up, Be Mindful, and Live Intentionally by Patti Digh
The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom by Jonathan Haidt
Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
The Art of Non-Conformity: Set Your Own Rules, Live the Life You Want, and Change the World by Chris Guillebeau
End Malaria by Michael Bungay Stanier
The Writing Diet: Write Yourself Right-Size by Julia Cameron

Meditating and Yoga-ing
Be the Change: How Meditation Can Transform You and the World by Ed and Deb Shapiro
The Mindfulness Revolution: Leading Psychologists, Scientists, Artists, and Spiritual Teachers on the Power of Mindfulness in Daily Life Edited by Barry Boyce
Smile at Fear: Awakening the True Heart of Bravery by Chögyam Trungpa
Ashe & the Four Dignities by The Kongma Sakyong
Buddhism without Beliefs by Stephen Batchelor
To Know Your Self by Swami Satchidananda and Edited by Philip Mandelkorn
Happy Yoga by Steve Ross
The Joy of Living by Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche
A Path with Heart by Jack Kornfield
Awake in the World: Teachings from Yoga and Buddhism for Living an Engaged Life by Michael Stone
You are Here: Discovering the Magic of the Present Moment by Thich Nhat Hahn
No Self No Problem by Anam Thubten

  • What are you reading?

Small Stone: Day Nineteen

Small Stone: Two Owls

Walking across campus, coming back from a meeting, I hear what sounds like owl noises in the trees at a spot known as Sherwood Forest. Five years ago, two graduate students were struck by lightning in that same spot, one killed instantly and the other dying a week later. When I did a ride-along with the CSU Campus Police, they told me a high number of sexual assaults have occurred over the years in that grove. Typically, I avoid it, but the noise and the chance to maybe see an owl draw me in.

At first, I think it might be a student making the noises to mess with people walking past, but I see another girl stop and look too, so I go further in. I locate the source of the noise high in a pine tree. A large owl, like the pair I see in the morning sometimes at Lee Martinez park, raises its head and shakes. It spreads its wings, flying to another tree. I move to find it again and hear someone call to me, “If you want to see both owls, come over this way.”

Image: Tina Phillips /

A Natural Resources student watches too, tells me his professor has been studying this pair for years, that they come back to this same place annually to mate and raise their babies. Once their family leaves, Sherwood Forest is quiet for a few weeks, until the Red-Tailed Hawks come to use the same nests to have their own families. He says if you are ever near this area and hear the Magpies squawking and see them diving at something, you know the owls are around. Apparently, at night, the owls try to steal Magpie babies for their dinner, so the next day, when the owls are typically trying to rest, the Magpies seek revenge.

We stand there for long minutes, looking up at the tree top and the owls. The sounds of a busy campus are muffled by the trees. Finally, when the owls quiet down, I tell the student “Thanks for owling with me,” and leave, happy to know there is another pair of owls I can visit so close.

Owls symbolize wisdom, intelligence, and freedom. They are seen as oracles of secret wisdom and protectors of the dead, of souls and secrets and dreams. They are able to see things that are hidden, are shape shifters. They have a connection to the underworld, death, and the moon. If this blog had a mascot, an animal spirit guide, I imagine it would be an owl, most likely riding on the back of a dog.

Small Stone: Day Eighteen

Small Stone: Two Clocks

Standing in the bathroom of my mostly quiet house, I hear the ticking of two clocks. Set to slightly different times, they sound out a call and response–one ticks and the other answers, half a second later. 86,400 times a day they do this, an ongoing conversation marking the passage of time, constant and dependable, until one or both’s battery dies and stops it, just like that.

Small Stone: Day Seventeen

Small Stone: Surprise Snow

Maybe it had been forecast and I just wasn’t paying attention, but on a later than normal walk at City Park, we are surprised by the snow. It falls slowly at first, but quickly gets more intense. Some people at the park are exercising in shorts, so I guess they hadn’t expected snow either.

Half way around the park, the snow and wind are blowing hard enough I have to look down at my feet, can’t easily see or breathe if I look straight ahead. The snow muffles everything, turning the park cold, white, and quiet.