Beginner's Heart

Beginner's Heart

Beginner's Heart Archives

the gift of friends

I am blessed with friends far better than I deserve. Colleagues; former students; girlfriends & guy friends; family who have long since blurred that line between friend & family, as have some friends who’ve migrated into heart-family. I even have friends […]


some periods you just breathe through…

At times like this, I don’t know what I’d do w/out tonglen. When I’m grieving for a loved one’s unhappiness, or breathing through my own, I remember: all over the world there is suffering. I know – how hokey is that? […]


with a little help from friends

You know that saying ‘it takes a village’? Well, it does. For any endeavour worth remembering, it takes collaboration. Varied viewpoints, multiple hands, and a LOT of coordination. Witness my niece’s shower. While I reap the accolades of my niece’s showers, […]


the family tree

Last weekend was family central. There are times when family seems a chore (we all have those moments!), but this weekend could not have been smoother, or more fun. Everyone in town made it, to celebrate my 3rd sister, who […]

day #30 in a month of Thanksgiving: one thing leads to another

Today is the last day of Thanksgiving month, although I’ll continue to keep my gratitude journal. While this past month has been public, I’ve kept a gratitude journal for years now.  It’s too rewarding a habit to give up now! What […]

day #28 in a month of Thanksgiving: it’s the happily ever after thing…

Today I’m very grateful for all the little things my beloved does, every day. Things ranging from getting up to take the dogs out when they howl at 2 a.m. (maybe that’s a big thing…), to running to the store […]

day 26 in a month of Thanksgiving: cranberries, turkey, and pie…oh my!

The pies are cooking for tomorrow. All the house smells of butter crust and pumpkin filling. In the 2nd fridge there’s a medium-sized turkey, with a ham still to be picked up. I’m fielding calls regarding what else folks should […]

day 24 of Thanksgiving month: getting ready (or not…)

I’m not at the ‘in the pie pan’ stage yet, but I did make the dough today. My family is BIG on pie, and especially at Thanksgiving. (Countdown: 3-2-1…) I think my beloved could eat an entire pie by himself, […]

day 23 of Thanksgiving month: soundtracks

The other day I wrote about how much I love music, how it’s one of my everyday gratitudes. Which set me to thinking: what would my life’s soundtrack be? What would I like to exit to? You have to realise: I […]

day 22 of Thanksgiving month: the kindness of strangers

Today’s gratitude is slightly abashed. I’m grateful for kindness — even my own, actually. And abashed that it’s noticed so…noticeably…? Because if just joking w/ the Starbuck’s barista, and teasing her about breathing, nets me a heartfelt hand-hold and a […]

day 21 of Thanksgiving month

Today a very simple gratitude, but profound. Music. That ineffable language writers have tried to capture for centuries. Working to replicate its nuance, the way it creates dancing in the bones, melancholy in the heart. I’m crazy about music. A […]

day #20 of Thanksgiving month

 It’s an older picture, but still appropriate for today’s post. Because here’s my gratitude today: my grandson recognizes me! Before you think I’ve totally lost my marbles, let me explain. My grandson is only 18 months old next week. I […]

day #17 of Thanksgiving: drive, she said

Americans take our ability to drive ourselves wherever for granted. I’m probably the only person I know who didn’t drive until in my 20s. Yes, I ‘learned’ to drive. Took the test at 16 (the legal age when I was […]

day of Thanksgiving #16: tech support (and privilege)

My computer has been wonky for weeks. By wonky, read: slooow, hanging, programs crashing. A pain, in other words. Enter tech support, AKA my beloved. Who often can merely walk into the room and broken electronics start working. I’m NOT […]

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 […]

day of Thanksgiving lucky number 13: broccoli (and Aunt Bonnie)

I owe today to my Great-Aunt Bonnie. While she didn’t exactly teach me to cook, she certainly had a big part in teaching me to love food. I can’t remember a single meal she prepared (and there were many) that […]

day of Thanksgiving #12: temper, temper

It may not seem like an everyday gratitude, but it is, if you think about it. Anger, I mean. It’s useful as both a gauge and a valve, obviously — letting you know when things are past your comfort zone. […]

month of Thanksgiving #10 — a good book is bliss

As I’ve said as recently as this week, and just in general, reading is a big deal to me. So maybe that’s a big gratitude. But one book? That’s surely small enough to make the everyday list. I just finished […]

month of Thanksgiving #8: the New Yorker and its companions

I adore the New Yorker. Even when the stack of unread ones that accumulates from time to time reproaches me. Currently I’m reading (still) the Food Issue. MY FAVOURITE! Reading about food is almost as much as eating it. Seriously: […]

month of Thanksgiving #7: the cat formerly known as Hektor

This is Hector (formerly w/ a ‘k’, now w/ a ‘c’ to indicate he’s MINE). He used to belong to my sister. My sister has the landlady from … well, very hot climes. And said landlady, DESPITE my sister paying […]

month of Thanksgiving #5…the guest room

In my ongoing month’s effort to see the daily magic of my everyday life, I realised today that I overlook something pretty important: our guest room. It’s such a gift, this space for our friends & family to come & […]

month of Thanksgiving #4: let it rain…

It was raining when I woke up today. The deck was littered w/ scarlet & yellow leaves, vivid against the wet wood. In the sky, clouds hung low & heavy. Not a good day for the final moving in of […]

giving thanks #3

Today’s gratitude is brought to you by coffee, that magical drink of ages. You know, the one that also may have fueled the Enlightenment? This is what great coffee looks like — it brews up thick, and rich, w/ lots […]

gratitude’s month

I love autumn. Especially November, for some reason. Maybe it’s years of living where fall was an illusion in a textbook featuring an American family that didn’t really exist. In Thailand, we often swam on Christmas. November was no cooler. […]

interconnection and the web (of support)

Can you say trimalleolar ankle fracture, three times, FAST? As I said the other day, it means all three bones in your ankle fractured. Broke, busted. And a big OUCH. My poor husband. Today his right ankle looks like the […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

you don’t always get what you want…

I’m raising bees! Today I went outside to check on them, and the brilliant blue/ green/ yellow & black of their bodies glittered as the females laid multiple eggs in the tubes of my mason bee house. The newer one […]

belated thank-yous

I love writing letters. REAL letters, on stationery, with a pen or rollerball, and the (futile) art of keeping my handwriting legible. Thank-you notes are my favourite. Unfortunately, sometimes I’m forgetful (well, actually I’m often forgetful!). And formal thank-yous — […]

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 […]

day 13 of Thanksgiving (in praise of laundry)

I HATE doing laundry. I once told a friend that I would remember my child-bearing years as piles of dirty laundry. Really dirty laundry: hockey socks & pads, football jerseys, cutoffs from camp, towels that ended up mildewing under the bed… […]

the month of Thanksgiving

During November — which I think of as the month of Thanksgiving — I give thanks each day for one of my many blessings. Today it’s my grandson, with whom I am (of course!) besotted. I’m sure this is true […]

prizes, raises, and affirmations –

 I recently learned that one of my essays made the finals for a creative non-fiction contest at a national literary journal. Whoohoo! The same day, I heard from my younger son that he received a huge raise. Another whoohoo! My […]

the middle of Thanksgiving ~

For many of us, Thanksgiving lasts a month. Each day I use Facebook to share something for which I’m grateful. It may be as small as the sunlight that hits the deck chair exactly right on a brisk fall day, […]

six unlikely things (before breakfast!) ~

I started this blog so I could learn about love — the Buddhist idea of it, the kind that inflects and colours every action. Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu, Mother Teresa kind of love. Impossible love ~ Yesterday I realised: I’m […]

Previous Posts

beginnings, and the inevitability of change
This has been the time of beginnings, which often appear -- at least at first -- as endings. Like the dandelion tuft above, which looks like the end of the ...

posted 4:48:10pm Nov. 30, 2015 | read full post »

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 »


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