I love Brain Pickings by Maria Popova. Her posts are so very interesting. This one is one of my favorites.

David Ogilvy is writings are much admired by many (and me.) Here’s practical advice most of us can benefit by.

“The better you write, the higher you go in Ogilvy & Mather. People who think well, write well.

Woolly minded people write woolly memos, woolly letters and woolly speeches.

Good writing is not a natural gift. You have to learn to write well. Here are 10 hints:

  1. Read the Roman-Raphaelson book on writing. Read it three times.
  2. Write the way you talk. Naturally.
  3. Use short words, short sentences and short paragraphs.
  4. Never use jargon words like reconceptualize,demassificationattitudinallyjudgmentally. They are hallmarks of a pretentious ass.
  5. Never write more than two pages on any subject.
  6. Check your quotations.
  7. Never send a letter or a memo on the day you write it. Read it aloud the next morning — and then edit it.
  8. If it is something important, get a colleague to improve it.
  9. Before you send your letter or your memo, make sure it is crystal clear what you want the recipient to do.

If you want ACTION, don’t write. Go and tell the guy what you want.


I’ll be sharing more of my favorite posts from this site..Or check it out yourself for some really interesting reads.

I’ve always said that procrastination is part of my creative process. It’s an excuse to, well, procrastinate.

I want to write in a journal…daily. But I procrastinate. It’s January 3 and I’ve got a brand new beautiful journal. Beautiful blank pages..still…waiting…

Posting favorite photos from 2013 is another thing on my want to do list. I guess I better begin before we get further into 2014.

The other day David Whyte posted an essay called Procrastination from The Reader’s Circle essay series. Wow! My Dad always told me that I could find an article to support anything I believed. Here it was…there is an upside to procrastination!

Here are parts that especially resonate with me:

“Procrastination, when studied closely, can be a beautiful thing: a parallel with patience, a companionable friend, a revealer of the true pattern, already, we are surprised to find, caught within us; acknowledging for instance, as a writer, that before a book can be written, most of the ways it cannot be written must be tried first, in our minds; on the blank screen, on the empty page or staring at the bedroom ceiling.”

“Procrastination does not stop a project from coming to fruition, what stops us, is giving up on an original idea, because we have not got to the heart of the reason we are delaying, because we have not let the true form of our reluctance instruct us in the way ahead.”

And I love the way he signs it:
“Studying the nature of our own reluctance can be a strangely illuminating act. Procrastination was written on a flight from Seattle to San Diego, Jan 26th 2011, the lights of Los Angeles on one side, a dreamy sunset over the Pacific on the other, after finding myself practicing the subtle art of delay with regard to that enormously difficult task: the simple act of getting my laptop out of my bag and onto the tray in front of me.”

To read the article in its entirety, here is a link to a downloadable pdf:


IMG 9618

The blank journal…waiting


She’s also known as Kwan Yin or Guanyin (Chinese) and Avalokitesvara (Sanskit). In Japanese, she is Kanzeon.

This is my selection for the Photo-Heart Connection for July. I photographed her with my iPhone at the end of a five day meditation. Her presence in the room I was in was a source of encouragement…she who hears the cries of the world, indeed. Meditation is hard work and my hip and back were crying.

I don’t remember what app I used to process this image, but it worked and I was very happy with the results. Color and texture work perfectly here.

This is my first Photo-Heart Connection selection. I follow Kat Sloma’s blog and really enjoy her creativity and generous spirit. You select one photo that has a strong photo-heart connection each month to share. I think it’s a great practice to go through your images and sort-of check in with yourself. The photos I take with my iPhone serve as a photo journal. I have them sorted on my hard drive in chronological order so it really gives me a feeling for where I was in heart and place at different times.

I wasn’t sure if I should post this. I learned a lot so I thought I would share.

Flowers for Mary Beth

Flowers for Mary Beth

We heard on the news that a woman was stabbed, wrapped in a piece of carpet and left in her driveway. Shocking, horrible! It was just another piece in the stream of news we hear daily…something happening outside.

Vernon was the temple keeper hired after Ginger left. I had been busy and traveling a lot and didn’t meet him. I heard bits and pieces of stuff about Vernon. Weird guy selling knives…had to disinfect his room…moved out of Palolo after repeatedly being asked to leave. Very ill…brain aneurysm, Crohn’s disease. I met him on the Wednesday after sesshin – July 10. There was something missing…life, heart. He extended his hand to shake mine and my reaction was to withdraw my hand. I shook his hand, but remember feeling uncomfortable about him.

I found out about his arrest in a Facebook message from a sangha sister in Maui. At first I didn’t believe it. I explored the Internet, reading articles about the crime, evidence found and reports about Mary Beth’s ex-husband being worried about her and finding her body in her driveway. How could this happen in my circle of comfort? How could we have let someone into our safe place? I trusted the sangha to be a safe place to come to…a refuge.

Now a video pan of our beloved zen center is online with an accompanying narrative about how the murder investigation has led deep into Palolo Valley. It was as if Vernon was a product of the zen center. I found myself feeling defensive. If they only knew that the main tenet of Buddhist Zen practice is one of not causing harm. The first of our precepts is not killing. Not this!

I was on the Big Island and I felt isolated from the sangha. Although our practice centers around silent meditation, things that affect the sangha are usually discussed, not swept under a carpet…no pretending, no buried feelings. The first communication I received was an email containing the official Honolulu Diamond Sangha statement to the press about Vernon’s connection with the sangha. As is the way of the Diamond Sangha, it was carefully worded without blame, without bias. It expressed sympathy for the pain Mary Beth’s family must be experiencing. So much was missing, though. Nothing like this has ever happened that I could compare it against. I felt alone, confused, angry. Should I call Michael (our teacher)? He’s being inundated with calls from the police, the press, and other sangha members, I was sure. I waited.

The next day Michael sent an email to the sangha inviting us to a meeting to talk about the trauma we were going through… individually and as a group. I’m normally not an outwardly emotional person, but I burst into tears upon receiving the email. I felt as though a hand had been extended. Until that moment, I hadn’t been aware of how deeply I was feeling-confused, angry, sad and isolated. I remember Michael saying (in another context) that we all had blood on our hands. I understood that to mean that we live in a society that kills…people, animals, the planet. I felt a very strong need to be with the sangha so I booked my ticket to Oahu.

When I arrived at the meeting, I noticed two young people that I didn’t recognize. It’s not uncommon for our sangha to include people who are not known to all members…I didn’t think much about it. I came to this meeting without an agenda. I didn’t plan to say anything. We sat in a circle on the lanai. It began with an introduction of the two visitors. His name was Phillip San Juan, the son of the murdered woman and she was, Laurin, her niece. Oh, my God! My immediate reaction was selfish, of course. How will we be able to speak freely with them here?

We began with a short period of zazen. A few of the sangha members talked about how stunned and horrified they were. Gratitude for this meeting was expressed. Phillip and Laurin listened.

Then a surprising thing happened. When Phillip spoke he spoke about love, the love that Mary Beth would have wanted to share. He was sharing it. He offered us comfort…said that she was free from the physical pain of our world. He and Laurin were acknowledging the gifts they were still receiving from her. He told us about a lei he found in his mom’s fridge. He had no idea who the lei had been intended for, but he said it was fragrant and fresh. He greeted Laurin at the airport with it. It takes a special kind of seeing to recognize the lei as a gift.

Phillip sat next to me. During the meeting he took my hand. It wasn’t because he needed me, I felt it was to comfort me. This is one amazing young man. He introduced us to Mary Beth, his mother, just by being there. They were very close, of one heart. He said she would have come to our meeting. Through him, she did.

When we asked Phillip what we could do for them, he asked that flowers be placed in Mary Beth’s driveway to make the spot of tragedy one of light. He and Laurin painted “LOVE” on a wall in the driveway in huge pink block letters. They were questioned by the security guard from the building next door about what they were doing. When the security guard realized that Phillip was Mary Beth’s son he expressed regret that he wasn’t able to do anything to save her. He was on duty the evening she was murdered and felt some how lacking. Phillip gave him a hug to make him feel better. Phillip’s presence at our meeting was just like that hug. It turned so many of us around and gave us another way of seeing.

I believe that I wasn’t the only one who came to the meeting with a bunch of stuff- anger, guilt, fear…wanting answers to questions that cannot be answered. Most of us are lucky in that we will never understand what would make someone harm another person is this horrible way, taking life. We have the soft spot that makes us civilized and gives us compassion for other beings. I can only feel gratitude that I have this refuge.

This video made me remember to live…sometimes I forget and I’m just putting in time without thinking about why I’m doing what I’m doing. My favorite quote from the video is: “You can either sit in your basement and wait or you can get out there and do some crazy stuff.”
Zach Sobiech

What inspires you to live fully?