how will you leap on Leap Day?

So, here’s the story, in short form: A book that had great impact on me as a college student: Sam Keen‘s To a Dancing God. My father had just died, and Keen’s story of the Peachseed Monkey in that book touched me deeply: Once upon a time when there were still Indians, Gypsies, bears, and bad men in the woods of Tennessee where I played and, more important still, there was no death, a promise was made to me. One endless summer afternoon my father sat in the eternal shade of a peach tree, carving on a seed he had picked up. With increasing excitement and covetousness I watched while, using a skill common to all omnipotent creators, he fashioned a small monkey out of the seed. All of my vagrant wishes and desires disciplined themselves and came to focus on that peach-seed monkey. If only I could have it, I would possess a treasure which could not be matched in the whole cosmopolitan town of Maryville! What status, what identity, I would achieve by owning such a curio! Finally I marshaled my nerve and asked if I might have the monkey when it was finished (on the sixth day of creation). My father replied, “This one is for your mother, but I will carve you one someday.” Days passed, and then weeks, and finally, years, and the someday on which I was to receive the monkey did not arrive. In truth, I forgot all about the peach-seed monkey. Life in the ambience of my father was exciting, secure, and colorful. He did all of those things for his...

the opportunity to have the flu

In a recent telecoaching class, a participant named Vickie stopped me with a simple statement: “I didn’t get my homework done because I had the opportunity to have the flu this week.” All of us paused. There was quiet on the line. The flu gave Vickie the opportunity to slow down, she explained. And see more. And be in her body more. In such a way, everything is an opportunity. A chance to feel great heartache and know deep inside with gratitude that heartache only comes from loving, and loving is a privilege. An opportunity to acknowledge that we are spirits temporarily housed in a body that feels pain. A journey into mindfulness when our bodies give out. John got very sick this week. Perhaps the sickest I have seen him. There was blood involved in ways it shouldn’t be involved. It gave him the opportunity to rest and seek medical care (when he volunteers to go to the hospital, you know it is bad) and talk with the purser at the hospital and find out she worked at George Washington Hospital for 30 years and introduce her to a nurse who mentioned he wanted to move to DC and work at GW Hospital, but didn’t know anyone there. It gave me an opportunity to take care of him (and Tess, who also joined the ranks of the Pukeys, but (thankfully) at a much lesser level even though it mean missing Pajama Day.) It also gave me the opportunity to slow down, be more realistic about what I could get done, re-prioritize on the human survival units who keep...

VerbTribe starts in 4 sleeps!

I am so excited. I learned last year that I love teaching the art and craft of writing. My first “strong offer” online this year is VerbTribe, a 37-day class designed to focus on the writing process, to get you writing consistently (as in creating an every day writing practice). And an amazing group of people has gathered to join me on this journey. VerbTribe sold out and we added 10 more spots–2 are remaining as of right now. The more intense version (including very small group writing workshops) is called VerbTribe Intensive. There are only 10 spots in this one. And as of right now, only 3 spots remain. If you’ve been putting “write more” on your New Years Resolutions for a while now, and not succeeding, I hope you’ll join us. The class starts in 4 sleeps. On February 1st. Because of the nature of the class, no one will be added to the group after Monday, January 30th. You can go here for more information and to register. Life is short. Write accordingly. More love and more writing,...

podcast episode 1: why the recognitions?

Click here to download the PDF that accompanies this episode (Scroll to the bottom of the page to access the recording) Key Thoughts: Introducing “The Recognitions” – a biweekly podcast series from Patti Digh on living mindfully Exploring ideas, interviewing authors and intellectual mentors, and opening space for discovery Asking provocative questions 5-20 minutes in length, twice a month The root of “recognition” is “to think over again” Ideas in this episode: Our lives are stories. We are storying ourselves at every moment. Story is a yearning meeting an obstacle. Stories are patterns of those meetings with obstacles. We must learn to recognize our way out of patterns rather than repeat our way out of them. Books mentioned in this episode: The Recognitions by William Gaddis Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke Letters to the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce The Unknown Masterpiece by Honoré de Balzac From Where You Dream by Robert Olen Butler War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy What is the second book Patti would take to a desert island, beside “The Recognitions”? You can find out here: http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/big-question-little-question/id492116403 Questions to Leave By: 1. What patterns have you recognized in your life? 2. What do you recognize about those patterns? What do you know, but deny? 3. What keeps you in those patterns? They must be serving you in some way–how? (Podcast theme song: “Relearning How to Be” by Tamara Bailie, with music by Ryan...

poetry wednesday : two heavens in the now.

Heaven for Helen -Mark Doty Helen says heaven, for her, would be complete immersion in physical process, without self-consciousness— to be the respiration of the grass, or ionized agitation just above the break of a wave, traffic in a sunflower’s thousand golden rooms. Images of exchange, and of untrammeled nature. But if we’re to become part of it all, won’t our paradise also involve participation in being, say, diesel fuel, the impatience of trucks on August pavement, weird glow of service areas along the interstate at night? We’ll be shiny pink egg cartons, and the thick treads of burst tires along the highways in Pennsylvania: a hell we’ve made to accompany the given: we will join our tiresome productions, things that want to be useless forever. But that’s me talking. Helen would take the greatest pleasure in being a scrap of paper, if that’s what there were to experience. Perhaps that’s why she’s a painter, finally: to practice disappearing into her  scrupulous attention, an exacting rehearsal for the larger world of things it won’t be easy to love. Helen I think will master it, though I may not. She has practiced a long time learning to see I have devoted myself to affirmation, when I should have kept my eyes on the ground.   Heaven for Stanley -Mark Doty For his birthday, I gave Stanley a hyacinth bean, an annual, so he wouldn’t have to wait for the flowers. He said, Mark, I have just the place for it! as if he’d spent ninety-eight years anticipating the arrival of this particular vine. I thought poetry a brace against time,...