Dogs riding in cars.

I suspect it may be the reason most dogs keep us around.  We can drive cars … and trucks and motorhomes and motorcycles.  And, as a result, we can seemingly create the very wind itself.  

To the senses of dogs riding in cars, I suspect it seems we can also somehow make all the best smells float on the air at once, with a cacophony of new and familiar sounds intertwined and changing every few seconds.  We magically bring farms with fields of horses into view before they dash past us with glorious speed.  We find new people to watch walking and riding bikes, and other dogs to call out to playing in yards.  And we can rush past and beyond them all with great authority and intentionality. more “Dogs riding in cars.”

What if the earth loved you back?

Seated in a classroom, surrounded by environmentally devoted students in a graduate writing class, “What if the earth loves you back?” was a question posed by Robin Wall Kimmerer, Distinguished Professor of Environmental Biology, member of the Potawatomi Nation, and my personal favorite wise-woman writer.  She describes the scene in her book, Braiding Sweetgrass.

“What if the earth loves you back?” she said.  But it was not really a question.  It is not really a question to me, either.  I only have to walk among the thick-set trees in Hitchcock Woods, or along the sandy edges of Edisto Island, or run my hands across the velvet side of a magnolia leaf in my own backyard to know the answer.  We are all reminded of it in the morning songs of birds and with the warmth of the afternoon sun; evidence of it can be found on the pollen-laden backsides of bees and in the brilliant faces of dandelions.

more “What if the earth loved you back?”

More power to your elbows.

It’s more British than American.  And it likely originated as a toast.  The phrase “more power to your elbows” meant you lifted your comrades up to continued good fortune, with many more celebrations to come (so their elbows would therefore be bent in many more celebratory toasts).  But now, “more power to your elbows” is most often just said in recognition of a thing well done, with hope for even more successes.  A sort of quirky wish for “good luck.” more “More power to your elbows.”

Taking care of each other, one tribe at a time.

I like the balance of it.  The reciprocity of it.  For more than a year, our children and grandchildren, our young people and youth, have had the responsibility of keeping the elders of our human “tribe” safe.  They’ve separated themselves and left their jobs and schools, they’ve stayed at home and kept their distance – initially, primarily, and poignantly to protect the vulnerability of the older generations.  Now, it’s the grandmothers’ and grandfathers’ turn to protect the young. more “Taking care of each other, one tribe at a time.”

Scraps of Love

It is a rather small scrap of simple cotton cloth.  It is faded cream in color with a pattern of soft blue leaves printed across it.  And it is fastened onto a large page of paper, along with half-a-dozen other small lengths of different bits of cloth and folds of ribbon.  The page is one of many pages, bound into a very large, very old, book.  And there are rows and rows of books just like it.  And they are shelved and preserved within the Foundling Museum in London, England. more “Scraps of Love”

Mending with gold.

It is known as Kintsugi.  And its origin is based on legend, centuries old, Japanese.  It’s the technique of mending broken items – especially pottery – with gold.  And in this way, the broken thing becomes something transformed – a work of art.  

Kintsugi causes the brokenness and scars of an item, its cracks and missing bits, to become its points of focus and value, its visible vulnerability and history and eloquence. more “Mending with gold.”

All the little foxes.

“Little foxes,” she said.  

My friend and I were walking with dogs.  It was early morning, late autumn.  We were discussing everything and nothing.  And we were not walking too near to each other, which somehow prohibits the natural sharing of confidences.  But we had been talking about something – I can’t remember exactly what – that concerned small worries, the kind that keep you awake at night and prevent you from truly enjoying a day of doing nothing.  And that’s when she said:  “Little foxes.” more “All the little foxes.”

Hidden books, surprise gifts.

“Fairies, on the whole, absolutely delight in giving gifts – especially surprise gifts – to each other as well as to outsiders.”

This is a line from one of my books, “The Secret Child.”  And it seems rather fun and significant to me right now.  Because for the past few weeks, several of my friends and I have been hiding copies of this book in various places all around Aiken – and beyond.  And I hope they are being discovered as the unexpected gifts they are intended to be. more “Hidden books, surprise gifts.”

To keep it well.

“… and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well …”

It is among the closing lines from Charles Dickens’ classic story, “A Christmas Carol.”  It may be one of the best remembered and most cherished sentences in the book.

“To keep Christmas well,” I suspect, implies different things to each of us.  But in the language of the day when this book was written, it meant to observe, or to honor, or to celebrate something.  To actively remember. more “To keep it well.”

Shifting boxes. shifting ideas.

There were more than 8,000 of them.  More than 8,000 books in nearly 500 cartons.  A total of about 11,000 pounds.  And over the course of 6 days or so, I shifted them all.

As an independent author, I warehouse all my own books at my home.  Up until last week, they were primarily on pallets under an attached covered carport.  But after some slight renovations and reinforcements to an old existing storage shed at the back of my property, I was able to shift all my “warehoused” books (all eight titles of them) into the shed, and away from the covered carport (now happily functioning as a new patio space).

And yet, as an independent woman, it never seems to occur to me when I start these projects that I’m no longer in my twenties or even my thirties – when I could lift half my own body weight without a twinge.  So it took days longer than I had anticipated to accomplish my goal – plus the eventual assistance of a very generous neighbor who pitched in at the end to help me heft the last few boxes into place onto the highest levels.

Besides providing a great deal of personal satisfaction for having done this, I found the project to be a rather profound experience in applied philosophy.

Books – all books, everyone’s books – are human experience and thoughts; they’re observations and ideas put into words and images on paper, bound by glue and opinion, folded together with expression, stitched into place with threads of cotton and perspective.  And I began to suspect that it was easier to shift all 11,000 pounds of these boxes and books of ideas and opinions, than it is to shift even one opinion or belief in one other person’s mind.

Scientists have done studies showing how our beliefs involve many parts of the mind as well as the body (not simply one part of the brain as was once thought).  They have learned that our beliefs are “fluid” – capable of changing and growing and maturing.  Beliefs are known to be highly experiential, based in childhood, and influenced by what we’re told as well as what we witness.

Our beliefs can affect every part of our being, from physical to emotional, from our outward behavior to our individual cells.  Our beliefs not only influence how we think and act, but they can affect our health and resilience; they help us love and let us break our hearts; they see beauty where others may not, and shape our dreams as we sleep.  Our beliefs and opinions influence how we make decisions and how we taste our food, how we decorate our homes and how we raise our children.

I personally felt rather reassured when I learned that apparently our opinions or beliefs cannot be bought for any amount of money, or diminished by threat of pain.  And yet, we hold the power to revoke or change any one of our own beliefs or opinions at will, at any given moment.  And we may form a new belief just as promptly, with just the beat of a heart.

I suspect that in our current global reality, we have never had so many opportunities for forming opinions and beliefs and ideas than we do right now.  But after physically shifting over ten thousand pounds of ideas by myself during this past week, I suspect that sharing the load, lifting together, aligning with another’s generosity of spirit, is a perfectly brilliant way for achieving the same goal and reaching even greater heights.  Perhaps this can be so even if the opinions belong to someone else … perhaps even when they exist as almost half a thousand boxes, all holding another’s way of thinking and believing and feeling.