a weekend of amazement

kanuga chairs2Once a year, Camp happens.

A camp for adults. Focused on courage, creativity, and community. Because those three things are intertwined and also because those three things are vital.

Do you want or need to access your courage in a new or bigger way?

Do you want or need to reignite your creativity? (Not just poets, writers, and artists, but all humans!)

Do you want or need to find a tribe that is both supportive and challenging?

Come to Camp! November 6-9, 2014 near Asheville, NC.

mother’s day is hard for me.

2014-05-08 18.39.58-1To be honest, Mother’s Day is tough for me.

I talked to my mom yesterday when she called, and again today. It is a weekend that weighs heavy on us, even as much as we celebrate our own mothers, and our own children who made us mothers.

“We took him to the hospital 34 years ago yesterday,” she said. “It doesn’t seem possible it’s been 34 years,” she continued.

“It sure doesn’t,” I said.

Daddy died on that Mother’s Day weekend in 1980. We found Mother’s Day cards he had written to my mom in the trunk of his car after he died. These anniversaries have a weightiness to them, like full storm clouds just before a big rain.

Tomorrow is the 34th anniversary of his death. I don’t think my mother ever returned or recovered from that. I returned, but I didn’t recover either.

The world is so, so full of transient beauty. Perhaps those words cannot exist except in direct proximity to one another.

 

thinking thursday

Malala

MIND

Why has the U.S. media ignored the abduction of 200+ girls? And why are they now paying attention? More reading of importance on this topic: #BringBackOurGirls and Nigeria’s Stolen Girls. Please pick one–let us humanize this tragedy.

Here’s a list of books that author Junot Diaz wants you to read. Is it wrong that I was thrilled to hear him mention William Gaddis, even in the context of disparaging MFA programs that focus too heavily on white writers?

BODY

I think this must appear on my table soon. Very soon.

Suddenly, I feel I’ve let myself down on the popcorn front.

You had me at roasted.

8 fitness apps to try. I’m going to give FitRadio and the heart rate one a try!

Some great ideas for frugal living. It’s the new black.

SOUL

Memorializing the dead takes on so many different beautiful forms around the world.

Gardening is good for the soul.

WORD

If we are without peace in the world, it is because we have forgotten we belong to each other.” -Mother Teresa

this is not goodbye

Screenshot 2014-04-21 11.40.29

Sometimes when people die, we feel we are saying goodbye to them. But, in truth, we are not. We are wholeheartedly saying hello to those intangible parts of them that have embedded themselves in us, like splinters–sometimes painful, yes, but far more beautiful.

GwynMy friend, Gwyn Michael, died recently. Gwyn was an artist who, when diagnosed with cancer, made art of her bone scans. She was a sprite and a seeker and a friend. She created art that I so appreciate and love.

Gwyn’s memorial service is today in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. And while I couldn’t be there in person, though I longed to, I was asked to “speak,” and sent this message:

Gwyn Michael Memorial, May 4, 2014

To Gwyn and her beloved family and friends,

I was honored to know Gwyn in this lifetime—to be able to witness her human-ness, her artistic vision, her loves and hurts, her gifts. And I was honored to speak with her just before she started her new journey, one in which those bone scans from which she made such beautiful art have no meaning except as markers on an extraordinary trek. I knew Gwyn through my work in the world, and through hers, and beyond all that as two human beings navigating life as best we could.

Hers was a deeply artistic eye, and her artwork graced my books in gorgeous ways. I knew Gwyn long before I met her. And I would like to share the story of our meeting.

I was doing a book reading in Massachusetts and there was no local book store to help with selling my books after the reading for those who wanted me to sign one for them. I put a call out on Twitter, asking for a volunteer who might help—and Gwyn answered. “I’ll be in the area on travel,” she said, “and would love to help.”

And so she did. As we had dinner afterward, she told me she had bought a new outfit to wear to the event because she didn’t think her every day blue jean artist outfit would be good enough. “But the new outfit just wasn’t me,” she said at dinner. “So I took it back.” I shared with her that before this reading I had felt great angst at presenting my work in a more compelling way, and that a friend has suggested I just “come as I was,” which is what I decided to do. And so we sat at dinner, each in our blue jeans, each coming to that evening understanding more fully that we needed to show up in our lives as we are.

This is good advice, and advice that both she and I followed after that meeting. Her bone scans became art—haunting and gorgeous art. She showed up fully as who she was, and still does.

Poet David Whyte has written that “heartbreak is unpreventable, the natural outcome of caring for people and things over which we have no control, of holding in our affections those who inevitably move beyond our line of sight. Heartbreak is the beautifully helpless side of love and affection and has its own way of inhabiting time. Heartbreak is something we hope we can avoid; something to guard against, a chasm to be carefully looked for and then walked around. But heartbreak may be the very essence of being human, of being on the journey from here to there, and of coming to care deeply for what we find along the way…”

I am deeply thankful I found Gwyn along my way. I am also deeply comforted by the fact that death ends a life, not a relationship, and that through her art, I will continue my relationship with Gwyn for the rest of my life.

Patti Digh

With much love, admiration, and thanks for your presence in my life and on this planet, Gwyn.

(art by Gwyn Michael)

lines and space

PAtti May 1034

thinking thursday.

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Every Thursday, a journey into what I’m finding and reading and thinking about. Like being in a library and following threads that lead who knows where. A book falls from the shelf near us, having been placed back hurriedly by a passing reader, and it falls in our way. We pick it up, or don’t. Serendipity lies in the picking up. I hope you’ll join me each week for Thinking Thursday.

MIND

Words you think you know, and sometimes use, but perhaps you don’t really know what they mean. Take the quiz and see!

“How we seek and respond to those rewards is part of what determines our overall happiness. Aristotle famously said there were two basic types of joy: hedonia, or that keg-standing, Netflix binge-watching, Nutella-from-the-jar selfish kind of pleasure, and eudaimonia, or the pleasure that comes from helping others, doing meaningful work, and otherwise leading a life well-lived.” One of those creates lasting increases in happiness.

BODY

A powerful look at loving our bodies: “I wish I could say that to every person who needs a wheelchair or braces or a catheter or a personal care attendant: You are beautiful. I know. The Body is Not an Apology. I promise.” Can we challenge and change the way our body looks and feels in public spaces and, ultimately, found out how to radically love and accept our bodies as they are, as this author relates?

I am having this favorite green smoothie for breakfast most days. Indeed.

10 genius cakes. Oh, my, yes. My, my, yes. The very idea of olive oil cake makes my mouth water.

I have been drinking this turmeric non-dairy milk at bedtime; I highly recommend it.

If you sew, please stop holding pins in your mouth.

SOUL

30 things to stop doing to yourself. A beautiful list. Pick one to work on.

The Gift of Death: On pathological consumption.

If reaching a state of calmness eludes you, here are some apps that might help.

WORD

“I have learned throughout my life as a composer chiefly through my mistakes and pursuits of false assumptions, not by my exposure to founts of wisdom and knowledge.” -Igor Stravinsky

your daily rock : give freely

My friend Amy McCracken wrote beautifully about this recently on our blog, 3x3x365. (Scroll to the “Richmond, VA entry).

Approach the world with openness.

Love,

patti signature on white

 

 

(These beautifully painted rocks are created by Kim Mailhot, aka The Rock Fairy.

your daily rock : say “I,” not “they”

“They really should do something about that.”

“I hope they can solve this problem.”

“They’re not even paying attention to this issue!”

Change won’t happen unless we change that “they” to “I.”

Watch how many times you start to say “they” today. Change it to “I.”

Love,

patti signature on white

 

 

(These beautifully painted rocks are created by Kim Mailhot, aka The Rock Fairy.

your daily rock : let yourself yearn.

Our lives, when we add them all up at the end, are the sum of our deepest yearnings meeting the challenges we call obstacles.

We want our lives to have more meaning, and we feel that doing laundry gets in the way.

We want to love and be loved, and we feel that needing to protect ourselves gets in the way.

We yearn for peace, for significance, for success–whatever it is we yearn for–and our journey is thwarted, we feel.

But those obstacles are our teachers, placed along that path to teach us, if we can sit with them, know them, walk hand in hand with them.

Let yourself yearn. Give voice to your deepest dream. And remember, always, that the dream isn’t the point. The journey there is where the magic is.

Love,

patti signature on white

 

 

(These beautifully painted rocks are created by Kim Mailhot, aka The Rock Fairy.

Discernment

Dear friends,

I haven’t written here recently, for several reasons.

1) I was finishing my newest book, The Geography of Loss, now available online and in brick-and-mortar bookstores.

2) For the past few months, I have been in a period of great, quiet, deep discernment. Refinding the path, clearing the decks, navigating through oceans to find the shore, understanding the needs of my family at a deeper level, opening space for myself to rediscover my work in the world. Recalibrating back to my heart’s passions. A work in progress, still.

Through all of that, I feel a need for a new space in which to write. A less cluttered space, a simpler one. Like a new stack of filler paper or a new notebook. Just me and words again. Look for a new 37days in the coming weeks.

Until then, be kinder than necessary, and include yourself in that kindness.

Love,

patti-signature-on-white