Beginner's Heart

Beginner's Heart

Beginner's Heart Archives

pebbles, weeks, and mortality

I’m reading a book I suspect I will re-read as soon as I finish it, Lewis Richmond’s Aging as a Spiritual Practice. Like another book I finish, then lay on my table to re-read for the umpteenth time (Rachel Naomi […]


cat helpers

This is my cat Hector, trying to help me think. He’s good at this — I don’t actually think, but he does help. Which I suppose is something. As even my flaky horoscope noted the other day, I’ve been needing […]


summer, and the greying of hours

The thing about summer sky is that it’s inimitable. Spring sky has a pale, watercolour to it: blue is creeping out from under its drab winter coverlet, needing light. Autumn? It’s the sky that ‘lambent’ was invented for — light as […]


tea parties (for no reason)…

We all know how I L❤️VE tea parties. But today’s post is to remind you just why you may want to have a tea party, or comparable celebration. Because today. Seriously — life is worth celebrating, even when it feels like […]

rainy days and Mondays

This is the view from the balcony, as I write. A study in silver, grey, moss & a blued-white. Beach grass, beach umbrellas, and beach birds. The pelicans that usually circle in front of & above the condos that fringe […]

this moment, this memory

There are moments that you recognise — even as they are happening — are perfect. You breathe as deeply as possible (especially if you’re a Buddhist!), because nothing lasts. And certainly not perfect moments. This is a picture of one […]

orchid lessons

Warning: this is another of those metaphors that seems profound to me. But may not to anyone else… 😉 As my beloved points out, they don’t work for him. Because today, as I watered my orchid terrarium, I noticed: there […]

a surefire cure for the blues

Carrots?? Carrots cure the blues?? Welllll, not exactly… But a trip to the Farmer’s Market, a cast iron skillet, and an hour+ of prep time will. For sure. 😉 Dinner tonight is blues food — not the kind where you’re […]

blogs, journals, and processing

As part of a lawsuit I’m involved with, I was asked to see if I had taken any notes concerning the event under question. Because I keep a journal, which travels with me almost everywhere. In the 30+ years I’ve […]

#myAmtrakWritingRetreat reprised

I am now an official, seasoned Amtrak traveller: I have taken a coffin-shower bath. This is it: big enough to stand up   in, and w/ surprisingly good pressure. Considering I on this next leg from Chicago to Fort Worth for 24 […]

hunting for home

Looking for a house is hard. Looking while recognising that this will be your long-term home — not a rental, not a summer vacation — is even harder. You find yourself confronting unspoken pre-reqs. And sometimes, unfortunately, even the happiest […]

living through the unexpected (with equanimity?)

 This is how we spent two hours Friday: lined up to cross the French Broad River bridge. TWICE. (I’ve been calling it the French Bread River Basin since then; it is neither broad nor bread, but certainly it’s worth poking fun […]

the right thing (even though…)

This is the 2nd baby rabbit that Sophie-the-13-year-old-cat has brought in to us. Unfortunately, the 1st one didn’t survive the experience . (We won’t go in to the gruesome way it ended up, and it wasn’t really the cat’s fault…) […]


 I’m enamoured of tiny houses. My dream is that I will someday be able to fit my entire belongings into 1/s of a tiny house, w/ my beloved paring his down, as well. Every thing we own would be a […]


Sometimes I think what I love best about vacations is the anticipation. The planning, the tour guides, cruising websites, learning all I can about where we’re going. Last night we confirmed our family vacation this summer. My beloved, my elder […]

farmers’ market, family, and magic

Today was the FIRST DAY of Farmers Market! Always a kind of holiday for me: the return of a Saturday ritual. I get up, throw on clothes, hop in my car, and drive to midtown. I don’t worry about my […]

quilts, teapots, and living day by day

As I often do when I’m worried or beset by whatever, I cleaned out a closet the other day. And rediscovered things I’d forgotten: a quilt my mother made me when I married; a quilt my sister quilted from a […]

life’s windows and thresholds

This past year — heck, this past couple of months! — has been full of transitions. Passages, they once were called. But there are few markers for so many of life’s changes. Aging, for instance, doesn’t have a ceremony, a […]

pizza: cold or hot, and engaged Buddhism vs intolerance

We had pizza for dinner last night. So today — as most pizza eaters know — was ‘leftover pizza’ day. Here’s the deal: my beloved must heat his. I eat it hot the first night, cold after. I actually like cold pizza! […]

snowy days

Today my son & DIL’s back yard is snuggled in under a white blanket of new snow. Actually, the new inches are layered over the previous feet. This is the Blue Ridge Mountains, and snow is part of winter. And […]

contrasts and contradictions (or not…)

See the snow outside? It’s inches — nothing for Boston (they should be so lucky!), but a big deal for Oklahoma. And more to come, the weather folks predict.  A cardinal is on one feeder, a vivid splash of colour […]

unintentionally clueless…

I hurt someone’s feelings today. Hurt them completely unintentionally, but still deeply. Reminded a man of ways in which the world may see him, even though I don’t believe I do. And even though I apologised — heartfelt, humbly, and more […]

the fragrance of peaches

I wish I could send out, over the ethernet, the fragrance of the peach tea I made today. I wish there was a way to bottle the steam spiralling from the cup, comforting on a worrying day. Often when I […]

talking to strangers

I know, your mother told you not to. But now you’re a grown-up, and I beg you to reconsider. You’re sooo missing out! Yesterday I had the loveliest conversation with two strangers — two of the many I meet daily. […]

schedule (and value?) conflicts

So here it is the 1st week of January, and already I have…schedule conflicts??? I’m retired, for pete’s sake! How can I have THREE happening on the same weekend next JUNE?? But I DO. And each of them dear to me, […]

day of Thanksgiving #15

Central heat. That’s today’s gratitude. Now, some folks may think that’s NOT an everyday kind of thing to be grateful for. But that’s my point — we use it every day in winter (those of us who are lucky enough […]

month of Thanksgiving #11: tea and chocolate

This was my dessert today, which is just the kind of ordinary gratitude I love. BUT… It also was FREE! Another everyday gratitude. AND it was eaten across the table from my smart, funny, pregnant niece (to distinguish her from […]

rainfall and intimations of moving

Although I love rain (honest), I don’t think about it a lot. Truth is, I take rain for granted. The drought in California is real for me, but it doesn’t come to mind when it rains. At least not usually. […]

a Sunday meditation: happiness=poetry

Young poets often believe that it takes unhappiness to create ‘art.’ You must drink too much, do drugs, have a sadly aching life. Be as miserable & crazy as Poe, as suicidal as Hemingway, as dysfunctional as Sexton. Sometimes, they […]


Poor Monday. Even after retirement, it remains the ugly dog you’d like to love, but somehow can’t. Too many memories of weekends spent catching up, and Monday showing up waaay too early. Today’s a lovely day — cool morning, crisp. […]

afternoon break

I should be working on the presentation I’m giving in…oh, 3 hours. I should be figuring out what to fix for dinner before I go. I should… I should. Instead, tea break. A cup of good ol’ house tea — […]

thunderheads, and big sky mind

Some days it’s harder than usual to calm. To remember that the mind is really just a space where thoughts (& feelings) come & go. But this is the basis of my wisdom tradition, and I know it’s true. So […]

FaceBook memes and gratitude

Right now on FB, my youngest sister has tagged the three of us other sisters to do the ‘gratitude challenge.’ In which for five days, you have to come up w/ three things a day for which you’re grateful. Just […]

when hot sweaty work is NOT a royal pain

This was my morning. My elder son & I wrangled over each individual magnolia branch, pretty much. See, I’m a tree person, and Nathan is a landscape person. He wants a useful and beautiful landscape for his home. I want […]

just add water: swimming with little fishes

I took my grandson swimming today. To a tiny inflatable pool off the side of the deck at the ‘kids’ house. We sat in the 85 degree air, in tepid water, liberally coated w/ SPF 50, and splashed. And splashed. […]

mistakes that aren’t bad

Making reservations for hotels while we’re on vacation, I couldn’t get the online form to ‘submit.’ Literally. Try after try, it said I wasn’t finished.  Yes I am! I thought. Dumb computer But you know what? I’d messed up, and […]

beginnings, birthdays, and teachers

Today my amazing, beautiful, beloved and perfect grandson has been here for a year. And I’ve been able to see him several times during that year. Each time, I’ve learned from him. HUGELY important lessons, like attention. Listening. Focus. Laughter. […]

my mother-in-law’s tablecloth

My whole family is nuts over housewares. Not just the women, either: my sons both asked for cast iron skillets. They also received teapots/ kettles/ and/or tea sets when they moved into apartments. When I went to my elder son’s […]

the Buddha was a teacher

One of the many small epiphanies I think of as ‘baby’ enlightenments was when I realised that first & foremost — before anything else — the Buddha was a teacher. As was Jesus. I know Christians think of Jesus first […]

making room

I’m giving away my books. A LOT of my books. Even the ones I did my graduate work on. Even the ones that saved my life. I’m also giving away what scrapbookers call ephemera: my mother’s passport, someone’s international driver’s […]

grapevine, blue zones, and everyday practice

This is my unruly garden. To be fair, it’s mostly unruly because I forget it. I get caught up writing/ cooking/ drinking tea/ just vegging (and not the garden kind), and the day is gone. And I actually quite like […]

tonight’s dinner is brought to you by

Tonight was supposed to be leftover roast chicken w/ salad. But I found cherry tomatoes at the market, and it seemed like a good day (grey, damp, gloomy) to pretend it was summer. Especially since it’s supposed to get down […]

rain, rain

It’s raining. The gardener in me is happy, but the sun-loving reptile? Not so much. Most things are like this, I suspect — good news/bad news. And not even ‘bad’ news. Just inconvenient, or gloomy, or … dampening. Lately, whenever […]

making your own spring

Today, a long line of my old ladies would tell you, is a dreary day. Nevermind that we need the inch of slow cold rain. And yes there are a few bent-necked daffodils in the front garden. But the birds […]

modern medicine and everyday miracles

So remember the scratchy throat I was fighting? The beautiful grandson who was spewing germs as he laughed and climbed me like a mountain? Flu. Yup, flu. Thank the universe (and modern medicine) for Tamiflu. Not only do I have […]

small breakthroughs

After whining so piteously yesterday about New Year’s resolutions, and laying new habits in place, I had one of those days when the bad habits were sooo much easier to forget. I know the sneaky devils will be back, but […]

resolutions, and good habits

So: why is it soooo hard to form good habits, and so EASY to lapse into bad ones?? Doesn’t it seem that good intention ought to count for something?? Sheesh. I’ve been back on the recumbent bike since New Year’s. […]

tea with plastic spoons…

Today I made my tea in a mug, on a cutting board, with a plastic spoon. Big deal, huh? Unless you know me, and know that almost every day I make tea in a pot, on a tray spread w/ one […]

happiness and our marvelous brain

I usually say the aim of life is to be happy. Our existence is based on hope. Our life is rooted in the opportunity to be happy, not necessarily wealthy, but happy within our own minds. If we only indulge […]

simplify ~

A friend posted the following on her FaceBook page, and I’m shamelessly stealing. The list comes from ZenHabits, and is longer in its original. Worth a stop by. 9 Rules for a Simpler Day 1. Know What’s Important. Take time […]

Previous Posts

of outsiders, refugees, and the sound of hearts, breaking
Perhaps it's because I lived so many years in places where I was the 'outsider.' Perhaps it's because 10 of those years were spent in Muslim countries. Perhaps ...

posted 6:01:54pm Nov. 20, 2015 | read full post »

connection, and the web, reprised
Buddhists believe firmly in connection. We don't always see eye-to-eye on other tenets -- reincarnation, the divinity of leadership, vegetarianism. There are ...

posted 3:38:54pm Nov. 18, 2015 | read full post »

happiness is...
It's true. You can DECIDE to be happy. I promise. And it doesn't reaallly take a whole lot of effort, despite what cranky people may think... There's a ...

posted 1:20:52pm Nov. 12, 2015 | read full post »

After any death, there is (at least in all the cultures I'm familiar with) a ceremony. In our case, Mom's funeral. It was definitely a family affair: my ...

posted 1:53:20pm Nov. 10, 2015 | read full post »

the hardest kind of letting go
All that is dear to me and everyone I love are of the nature to change. There is no way to escape being separated from them. ~ Buddha As my beloved & my ...

posted 3:12:49pm Nov. 04, 2015 | read full post »


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