I know. Thanksgiving was last week. But let's carry that spirit forward for awhile. Here are some thoughts about gratitude to keep us in that frame of mind.
Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.
-- William Arthur Ward
As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.
-- John F. Kennedy, November 5, 1963
Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.
-- Melodie Beattie
At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.
-- Albert Schweitzer
Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.
-- Marcus Tullius Cicero
"Thank you" is the best prayer that anyone could say. I say that one a lot. Thank you expresses extreme gratitude, humility, understanding.
-- Alice Walker
Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life . . . and the world.
-- Sarah Ban Breathnach, Simple Abundance Journal of Gratitude
I write about the power of trying, because I want to be okay with failing. I write about generosity because I battle selfishness. I write about joy because I know sorrow. I write about faith because I almost lost mine, and I know what it is to be broken and in need of redemption. I write about gratitude because I am thankful - for all of it.
-- Kristin Armstrong
One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings.
-- Carl Jung
Gratitude is when memory is stored in the heart and not in the mind.
-- Lionel Hampton
What are you grateful for today?
This month's collection of wisdom is a mixed bag, a reflection of what I've been thinking and doing since we returned from vacation. First came the obsessing over all the things I needed and wanted to catch up on, then the realization that I didn't need to do them all at once. When I settled down enough to set priorities, it was with a renewed commitment to my creative projects, both ongoing and new.
I also spent some time reflecting on our travels and on the benefits of travel in general. And then, because my daily at-home routine involves at least a little attention to the news of the day, I sought guidance to help me keep distressing events in perspective.
Finally, travels over and routine restored, I found comfort in being right where I am, right now.
We have to fight them daily, like fleas, those many small worries about the morrow, for they sap our energies.
-- Etty Hillesum
I believe that if you do not answer the noise and urgency of your gifts, they will turn on you. Or drag you down with their immense sadness at being abandoned.
-- Joy Harjo, Crazy Brave
Work is love made visible.
-- Ama Ata Aidoo
We see achievement as purposeful and monolithic, like the sculpting of a massive tree trunk that has first to be brought from the forest and then shaped by long labor to assert the artist's vision, rather than something crafted from odds and ends, like a patchwork quilt, and lovingly used to warm different nights and bodies.
-- Mary Catherine Bateson
You throw an anchor into the future you want to build, and you pull yourself along by the chain.
-- John O'Neal
The more I traveled, the more I realized that fear makes strangers of people who should be friends.
-- Shirley MacLaine
We say, "Seeing is believing," but actually . . . we are all much better at believing than at seeing. In fact, we are seeing what we believe nearly all the time and only occasionally seeing what we can't believe.
-- Robert Anton Wilson
I have striven not to laugh at human actions, not to weep at them, nor to hate them, but to understand them.
-- Baruch Spinoza
Perhaps the most radical thing we can do is stay home, so we can learn the names of the plants and animals around us; so that we can begin to know what tradition we're part of.
-- Terry Tempest Williams
The little things? The little moments? They aren't little.
-- Jon Kabat-Zinn
What's on your mind as this month draws to an end?
I've been taking a time-out this month, doing some relaxing, some traveling, shaking up the usual routine. In that spirit, I offer a selection of quotes about leisure, recreation and travel. I hope you'll take time out to enjoy them!
The healthy being craves an occasional wildness, a jolt from normality, a sharpening of the edge of appetite . . . a brief excursion from his way of life.
-- Robert Morrison MacIver
If bread is the first necessity of life, recreation is a close second.
-- Edward Bellamy
Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.
-- Terry Pratchett, A Hatful of Sky
Guard well your spare moments. They are like uncut diamonds. Discard them and their value will never be known. Improve them and they will become the brightest gems in a useful life.
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson
Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow.
-- Anita Desai
What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows...
-- William Henry Davies, "Leisure"
In matters of healing the body or the mind, vacation is a true genius!
-- Mehmet Murat ildan
Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for. Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us.
-- Maya Angelou, Wouldn't Take Nothing for My Journey Now
The only true voyage of discovery, the only fountain of Eternal Youth, would be not to visit strange lands but to possess other eyes, to behold the universe through the eyes of another, of a hundred others, to behold the hundred universes that each of them beholds, that each of them is . . .
-- Marcel Proust, Remembrance of Things Past
On the last Wednesday of every month, I serve up a potpourri of advice, inspiration and other tidbits I've come across in recent weeks. In honor of the recent solar eclipse, this month's selection is all about light, dark and mystery.
I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness because it shows me the stars.
-- Og Mandino
It is the dim haze of mystery that adds enchantment to pursuit.
-- Count Antoine de Rivarol
Where there is much light the shade is deepest.
-- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
As we acquire more knowledge, things do not become more comprehensible, but more mysterious.
-- Albert Schweitzer
In the light we read the inventions of others in the darkness we invent our own stories.
-- Alberto Manguel
Mystery creates wonder and wonder is the basis of man's desire to understand.
-- Neil Armstrong
To me, every hour of the light and dark is a miracle,
Every inch of space is a miracle,
Every square yard of the surface of the earth is spread with the same,
-- Walt Whitman, Poem of Perfect Miracles, Leaves of Grass
On the last Wednesday of every month, I serve up a potpourri of advice, inspiration and other tidbits I've come across in recent weeks. This being mid-summer, and finally being free of the boot I've been wearing for a foot fracture, I'm sharing quotes about summertime and freedom. How's your summer going?
Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August. Winters are simply a time to count the weeks until the next summer.
-- Jenny Han, The Summer I Turned Pretty
Freedom is the basic condition for you to touch life, to touch the blue sky, the trees, the birds, the tea, and the other person.
-- Thich Nhat Hanh, Anger: Wisdom for Cooling the Flames
Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.
-- Henry James
Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer's day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.
-- John Lubbock, The Use Of Life
At these times, the things that troubled her seemed far away and unimportant: all that mattered was the hum of the bees and the chirp of birdsong, the way the sun gleamed on the edge of a blue wildflower, the distant bleat and clink of grazing goats.
-- Alison Croggon, The Naming
One benefit of summer was that each day we had more light to read by.
-- Jeannette Walls, The Glass Castle
Again and again, the cicada's untiring cry pierced the sultry summer air like a needle at work on thick cotton cloth.
-- Yukio Mishima, Runaway Horses: The Sea of Fertility, 2
Life, now, was unfolding before me, constantly and visibly, like the flowers of summer that drop fanlike petals on eternal soil.
-- Roman Payne, Rooftop Soliloquy
I have only to break into the tightness of a strawberry, and I see summer – its dust and lowering skies.
-- Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye
The crickets felt it was their duty to warn everybody that summertime cannot last for ever. Even on the most beautiful days in the whole year – the days when summer is changing into autumn – the crickets spread the rumor of sadness and change.
-- E.B. White, Charlotte's Web
Summer, after all, is a time when wonderful things can happen to quiet people. For those few months, you're not required to be who everyone thinks you are, and that cut-grass smell in the air and the chance to dive into the deep end of a pool give you a courage you don't have the rest of the year. You can be grateful and easy, with no eyes on you, and no past. Summer just opens the door and lets you out.
-- Deb Caletti, Honey, Baby, Sweetheart
'Cause a little bit of summer's what the whole year's all about.
-- John Mayer
Read more summer quotes here.
On the last Wednesday of every month, I serve up a potpourri of advice, inspiration and other tidbits I've come across in recent weeks. In the spirit of an earlier post on a silent hike (and having been forced into near silence by losing my voice over the weekend), this month's offerings are on the subject of silence. It's okay to read them aloud, though.
Silence gives us the impetus for awareness and creativity. Sometimes our minds need to be emptied before our spirits can be filled.
-- Ardath Rodale
Do not the most moving moments of our lives find us all without words?
-- Marcel Marceau
Silence is not a thing we make; it is something into which we enter. It is always there . . . All we can make is noise.
-- Mother Maribel of Wantage
Silence is more musical than any song.
-- Christina Rossetti
Blessed is the man who, having nothing to say, abstains from giving us wordy evidence of the fact.
-- George Eliot
In wilderness people can find the silence and the solitude and the noncivilized surroundings that can connect them once again to their evolutionary heritage, and through an experience of the eternal mystery, can give them a sense of the sacredness of all creation.
-- Sigurd Olson, author and environmentalist
Try to pay more attention to the silence than to the sounds . . . Every sound is born out of silence, dies back into silence, and during its life span is surrounded by silence . . . It is an intrinsic but unmanifested part of every sound, every musical note, every song, and every word.
-- Eckhart Tolle, author and spiritual teacher
Not merely an absence of noise, Real Silence begins when a reasonable being withdraws from the noise in order to find peace and order in his inner sanctuary.
-- Peter Minard, Benedictine monk
There is a way that nature speaks, that land speaks. Most of the time we are simply not patient enough, quiet enough to pay attention to the story.
-- Linda Hogan, poet, author and environmentalist
Silence is our deepest nature, our home, our common ground, our peace. Silence reveals. Silence heals.
-- Gunilla Norris, poet and author
Gladden in silence.
As one progresses on the path, one seeks silence more and more.
It will be a great comfort, a tremendous source of solace and peace.
Once you find deep solitude and calm, there will be a great gladness in your heart.
Here finally is the place where you need neither defense nor offense -- the place where you can truly be open.
There will be bliss, wonder, the awe of attaining something pure and sacred.
After that, you will feel adoration of silence.
This is the peace that seems to elude so many.
This is the beauty of Tao.
-- Deng Ming-Dao, author and artist, 365 Tao: Daily Meditations
On the last Wednesday of every month, I serve up a potpourri of advice, inspiration and other tidbits I've come across in recent weeks. In honor of National Poetry Month, celebrated every April, I'm sharing thoughts on poetry and language. And with this, a salute to my friend Cristina Trapani-Scott, whose poetry chapbook, The Persistence of a Bathing Suit is due out from Finishing Line Press next month.
Plus this month's bonus: a preview of the fairy house Ray and I built for the second annual Enchanted Forest event at Camp Newaygo, coming up this weekend (April 29-30), and the story we co-wrote to go along with the house.
Poetry comes nearer to vital truth than history.
The poet lights the light and fades away. But the light goes on and on.
-- Emily Dickinson
A poem is not simply words on a page but a way of touching the stars and having the stars that have fallen into the sea touch us. Our lives are poems. Everything arrives and passes away as it should, and we don't know the ending--which is the moment the entire poem, its meaning and music, is revealed--until the last line is written, even though it has perhaps existed in the eternal now all along.
-- Sawnie Morris, in Poets & Writers magazine, November/December 2016
Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash.
-- Leonard Cohen
Language is a skin: I rub my language against the other. It is as if I had words instead of fingers, or fingers at the tip of my words. My language trembles with desire.
-- Roland Barthes
As a poet and writer, I deeply love and I deeply hate words. I love the infinite evidence and change and requirements and possibilities of language; every human use of words that is joyful, or honest, or new because experience is new . . . But, as a black poet and writer, I hate words that cancel my name and my history and the freedom of my future: I hate the words that condemn and refuse the language of my people in America.
-- June Jordan
Poetry is what in a poem makes you laugh, cry, prickle, be silent, makes your toe nails twinkle, makes you want to do this or that or nothing, makes you know that you are alone in the unknown world, that your bliss and suffering is forever shared and forever all your own.
-- Dylan Thomas
But words are things, and a small drop of ink, falling like dew, upon a thought, produces that which makes thousands, perhaps millions, think.
-- Lord Byron
Poetry is the language in which man explores his own amazement . . . says heaven and earth in one word . . . speaks of himself and his predicament as though for the first time. It has the virtue of being able to say twice as much as prose in half the time, and the drawback, if you do not give it your full attention, of seeming to say half as much in twice the time.
-- Christopher Fry
Most people ignore most poetry because most poetry ignores most people.
-- Adrian Mitchell
All the fun's in how you say a thing.
-- Robert Frost
And now for something completely different . . . it's time to unveil our creation for this year's Enchanted Forest event at Camp Newaygo. Once again, the design is based on a story featuring Fairy Archie and his sidekick Hughie the Humongous Butterfly. It'll probably make more sense if you read the story first. (And if you missed last year's installment, you can read it here.)
Be sure to come back next week for more fairy house pictures and a full report on the Enchanted Forest event.
Valentine's Day is over, but can't we all still use some love? I think we can, so I'm offering quotes about love in this installment of Last Wednesday Wisdom. And because HeartWood and I both celebrated birthdays this month (guess who's older), I'm throwing in some about age and experience, as well.
In the spirit of love and celebration, I'll even give you a treat at the end: photos from a recent concert and exhibit by local luthiers (stringed-instrument makers).
There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create. Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life.
-- John Lennon
Love does not consist of gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction.
― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Airman's Odyssey
The great thing about getting older is that you don't lose all the other ages you've been.
-- Madeleine L'Engle
How many slams in an old screen door?
Depends how loud you shut it.
How many slices in a bread?
Depends how thin you cut it.
How much good inside a day?
Depends how good you live 'em.
How much love inside a friend?
Depends how much you give 'em.
― Shel Silverstein
Trust in Experience. And in the rhythms.
The deep rhythms of your experience.
-- Muriel Rukeyser
No matter what you're feeling, the only way to get a difficult feeling to go away is simply to love yourself for it. If you think you're stupid, then love yourself for feeling that way. It's a paradox, but it works. To heal, you must be the first one to shine the light of compassion on any areas within you that you feel are unacceptable.
-- Christiane Northrup
Imagination has no expiration date.
-- Paula Whyman, author, in article on debut authors over age fifty, Poets & Writers magazine, November-December 2016
Love is a canvas furnished by nature and embroidered by imagination.
We get to think of life as an inexhaustible well. Yet everything happens only a certain number of times, and a very small number, really. How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, some afternoon that's so deeply a part of your being that you can't even conceive of your life without it? Perhaps four or five times more. Perhaps not even that. How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps twenty. And yet it all seems limitless.
-- Paul Bowles
If you have only one smile in you, give it to the people you love.
-- Maya Angelou
If I had known when I was twenty-one that I should be as happy as I am now, I should have been sincerely shocked. They promised me wormwood and the funeral raven.
-- Christopher Isherwood
On the last Wednesday of every month, I serve up a potpourri of tidbits I've come across in recent weeks. Here's what I've unearthed this month. See you in February!
Enter each day with the expectation that the happenings of the day may contain a clandestine message addressed to you personally. Expect omens, epiphanies, casual blessings, and teaches who unknowingly speak to your condition.
-- Sam Keen
If a thousand old beliefs were ruined in our march to truth, we must still march on.
-- Stopford Augustus Brooke
You think your pains and heartbreaks are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who have ever been alive.
-- James Baldwin
If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.
-- Mother Teresa
The truth is at the bottom of a well. You look in a well, and you see the sun or the moon, but if you jump in, there's no longer the sun or the moon; there's the truth.
-- Leonardo Sciascia
I nod to a passing stranger, and the stranger nods back, and two human beings go off, feeling a little less anonymous.
-- Robert Brault
Don't do nothing because you can't do everything. Do something. Anything.
-- Colleen Patrick-Goudreau
The path of progress has never taken a straight line, but has always been a zigzag course amid the conflicting forces of right and wrong, truth and error, justice and injustice, cruelty and mercy.
-- Kelly Miller
No amount of fine feeling can take the place of faithful doing.
-- William Barclay
The world is too dangerous for anything but truth and too small for anything but love.
-- William Sloane Coffin
On the last Wednesday of every month, I serve up a potpourri of tidbits I've come across in recent weeks. This being the last post of 2016, I hope to offer a little inspiration for the year ahead.
Art is not a set of rules, but a harmony of whims.
-- Rubén Darío
No small part of sanity, I think, is accepting the distance between the discipline you think you should have and that which is actually available to you.
-- Naomi Jackson, author, in Poets & Writers, September/October 2016.
The purpose of the artist is to draw back the veil that leaves us indifferent before the universe.
-- Marcel Proust
I am not much of a believer in inspiration. Well, no, that's not true: Good writing needs a little lightning, which only strikes unbidden, coursing through it. But waiting to write until one is inspired is like waiting to have a drink of water until it rains.
-- Craig Morgan Teicher, poet, critic and freelance writer, in Poets & Writers, January/February 2017
Poetry is not a means to an end,, but a continuing engagement with being alive.
-- Kim Addonizio, poet, novelist and performer
Inspiration is not divine intervention. It's figuring out a solution to a problem.
-- Editors, Poets & Writers, January/February, 2017
The purpose of art is to stop time.
-- Bob Dylan
We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.
-- Maya Angelou
You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.
-- Jane Goodall
Written from the heart,
from the heart of the woods
Read the introduction to HeartWood here.
Nan Sanders Pokerwinski, a former journalist, writes memoir and personal essays, makes collages and likes to play outside. She lives in West Michigan with her husband, Ray.