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“Your real duty is to go away from the community to find your bliss.” – Joseph Campbell
26 January 2013

Rise Up

Rise Up

Rise Up

Time for my personal revolution.

Rise up. A life in fear is not worth living.

Liberate the best and most hopeful parts of myself.

Become a warrior for love and promise.

Break open the locks on your dreams,

and live them, every day.

Do not surrender to the peddlers of doom

and obligation and grief. They are spirit cannibals,

and will devour your soul.

Rise up like the brave daisy and put your lips to the world.

And live your life.

25 January 2013

Moving: How The Dogs Fared

Red, Lenore, Frieda

Red, Lenore, Frieda

When you live with something every day, it's sometimes hard to see the larger picture. People ask me all the time how the dogs have fared in the move to the new farm, and I don't think I ever wrote much about it. I thought I should sum up a bit. We moved to the farm just before Halloween. Each of the dogs had visited many times. We built a dog run next to the house with a secure fence – we live off a busy road. We were most concerned about Frieda and how she would react to the noise and the traffic.

Red has no problems adjusting. He is a working border collie with sheep out the door. Life is good. I work with him every day and he goes almost everywhere that I go. His life is full and meaningful, he is living his life almost to its full potential and that is gratifying to me. There will be more to come. His herding skills are sharp and he is very useful to us. He goes out on farm chores and visits his many admirers throughout the day.

Lenore's role has changed also. She has become Maria's ride-a-long dog. She goes out on chores and rides, gets free run of the area around the house – she never even glances at the road and is happy inside dozing on her sofa in my study. She has matured and is close to both of the other dogs, often curled up sleeping next to them. She remains the love dog, tail always wagging, on the prowl for food and attention.

The move has been wonderful for Frieda. She chases loud trucks with engine noises but the run is narrow and she runs back and forth and barks and then they are gone. She protects the house guarding against intruders. She is a watchdog through and through, loud, intimidating and vigilant. This role suits her, gives her a sense of purpose and focus. Inside the house, she is often found by the wood stove or curled up next to me or Maria.

These three are close with one another than any other combination of dogs I have had. They curl up next to each other, eat calmly alongside one another, even share their treats and chews. The move has been very good for them. It is a closer area for them to manage, and the old farmhouse has lots of good spaces beneath tables and in corners for them to melt into, as they do each night.

They each get attention and several walks  a day together – we go to a nearby park and if the weather permits hike back on our own property. They each have defined roles and important work to do. The dogs have fared well. We have no problems with them and as good dogs do, they have moved seamlessly into our new lives. As I write this all three dogs are curled up under my desk and alongside of me. I always have to be careful moving my chair back.

2 December 2012

Red Flummoxed: Alpaca Confrontation!

Red Flummoxed

Maria and I drove to the Vermont Fiber Mill Works in Brandon, Vt. to drop off the wool that she is selling from her sheep in the Spring as yarn (more on her website). Red hopped out of the car and walked smack into a flock of curious Alpacas, and he went immediately into his herding crouch, and then simply stared at them, as astonished by them as they were by him. This standoff went on for ten minutes or so, and it was pretty fun to watch this serious and purposeful worker trying to figure out if these were sheep or not. The alpacas were not especially impressed by him but they were very interested in him.

He was happy to go into the farm office and find some new girlfriends to cuddle with, which he did. More photos later.

1 October 2012

What The Blind Can See: On The Road

What The Blind Can See

If you know people without sight, you learn quickly that they most often see much more than people who can "see." Rocky reminds me that life and circumstance challenge us to grow and change – to confront our fears – or to surrender to them. This is the drama of those without biological sight. This is their choice.

I learned quickly that Rocky sees more than any other animal I know. He is acutely aware of sound and smell. His hooves know every safe and worn path. His nose finds buckets of grain, water, obstacles. His senses are acute, almost supernatural sometimes. He knows I am coming before my car has  even turned onto the driveway.

In my own life, I have been learning, struggling to see – through fear, anger, confusion, through the alarm and judgement and panic that swirl around around me, through the poisoned media and political system, the angry harangues of the left and the right, the greedy and fear-peddling insurance, bureaucratic,  medical and legal systems. Sometimes it seems as if the point of our world is alarm and confrontation, the spreading of fear for profit and power.

Fear has helped me grow, challenge and adversity is helping me become an authentic human being, one step at a time, day by day, revelation by revelation. If we had sold Bedlam Farm right away, if we had gotten all the money we asked for when we asked for it, if we had bought a finished, polished, ready-to-live-in house, if I had all the money in my bank account and IRA that I was supposed to have, then I would not see so many of the things I see today, these great gifts to me:

– What a real partnership with a loving human being can accomplish.

– The joy of knowing a home so intimately when you have painted, scrubbed or scraped every inch.

– The strength from making good, fast, quick and creative decisions.

– The sense of accomplishment – late for me – in knowing I can manage the money I have well and resourcefully.

– The joy of finding there are good people in the world who make wonderful friends, are supportive and helpful, encouraging and present.

– The great gift of understanding what health really is, and of pursuing in a safe and productive way.

– The thrill of changing in creative ways, taking control of your life.

– The liberation that comes from seeing that money does not bring love, security or peace of mind. It is our greatest myth, perhaps the leading cause of our spiritual blindness.

– The pleasure of knowing I can learn how to take the wallpaper off of a wall, prep and paint, mop and polish, scrape and brush.

Fear is, after all, a geography, a culture, a habit, and more than anything off, it feeds off of itself and the toxic fumes in our unthinking world.  When you are forced by circumstance to confront the world, then the choice – like Rocky's – is to give into it, and surrender to its awful and relentless power, or to see it for what it is – a wall around your life, a choker of the soul, a crusher of the spirit. So this is the great gift of fear unmasked, rejected and turned away from. It can make us strong. It can make us safe. It can make us see.

Without trouble and challenge, my own blindness might have crippled me for the rest of my life. Rocky reminds me that it has helped me to see.

This is a meaningful message for me to take on the road, as I begin my 22nd book tour and set out into the country to see different things and meet some of the people who read my books, share my life on the blog, look for my photography, walk with me through life.

24 April 2012

The Gifts The Wind Brought. Ssssssh. Silly Man.


A strong wind came yesterday, surprising me,

rolling confidently across the pastures and winding roads,

calling to me, singing its enchanted song,

awakening me with anticipation, news of things to come.

Oh yes, she whispered, I am here again,

rolling across the open fields of your life.

I am, after all, she says, chanting now,

just a fairy, a spirit.

Why are you here?, I ask.

She wraps herself around me, caresses me,

Oh, to dance she said. To do the dance.

Oh, and yes, she whispers, softly, I may bring the gift of grief to you,

if you are alive, conscious, able to feel and receive it.

And she didn't need to tell me that grief has many gifts,

the gift of love, it's brother,

the gift of connection,

it's mother,

the gift of meaning.

Grief is a teacher, experienced, strong.

You pilgrims, out there,

reading this, you all know the

gift of grief, have felt it,

have been opened by it,

as much or more as me.

In our disconnected world, grief

connects us, reminds us that we are,

when all is said and done, for all our foolishness,

the same thing. One thing.

The wind embraces me, touches me,

opens me and whispers to me, flirting with me.

She loves me, after all. Oh yes,

I am coming, she says, to make you feel,

to tell you that you are alive,

that you can love. And be reminded

of all the joy and beauty in the world.

Death is not different than  life, she says,

winking at me. It is the same thing, silly man.

And then the wind roared, and then quieted to a whisper.

Ssssssh, she says. Sssssssh. I love you so much. Be still.

Choose life, she sings. Choose life.

I smile, and bow to her.

I am a bit afraid, shy.

I ask her. Will you dance with me?