At black water pond
the tossed waters have settled
after a night of rain.
I dip my cupped hands. I drink
a long time. It tastes
like stone, leaves, fire. It falls cold
into my body, waking the bones. I hear them
deep inside me, whispering
Oh what is that beautiful thing
that just happened?

Mary Oliver

(thank you graceful presence)

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posted by ashley



We have bigger houses but smaller families;
more conveniences, but less time;
We have more degrees, but less sense;
more knowledge, but less judgement;
more experts, but more problems;
more medicines, but less healthiness;
We've been all the way to the moon and back,
but have trouble crossing the street to meet
the new neighbor.
We build more computers to hold more
information to produce more copies then ever,
but have less communication;
We have become long on quantity,
but short on quality.
These are times of fast foods
but slow digestion;
Tall men but short character;
Steep profits but shallow relationships.
It's a time when there is much in the window,
but nothing in the room.

The 14th Dalai Lama

posted by kang


a bubble pops

It's a crisp, clear, beautiful fall day here. I was walking to the coffee shop for my morning fix. As I approached the end of the block I jumped and let out a little squeal as there was a large dead cat pushed up against the curb. I walked out into the street so as to get around it, offering prayers, May you pass peacefully along on your journey. I felt how my body was shaking, how much of an out-of-the-ordinary moment it is for me to walk close to a dead being that is larger than a squirrel. I felt my fortune.

What would it be like to live somewhere where it was more ordinary to see a dead person on the side of the road...from a flood, from a war. What would it be like to be accustomed to that?

I took a different route home, reflecting upon my fortunate lifestyle, wondering about the vast discrepancies of lifestyles throughout the world.
posted by ashley


Faith and Acceptance

Some thoughts from Pond Rings
Sometimes our mind and all it knows seeks security, faith demands that we rest in insecurity. Sometimes rational thinking invites our attention into the many possibilities that lie outside of our current experience, faith invites us to trust in those possibilities unfolding. Hope adds to our dreams of something different, faith awakens those dreams. Knowledge of the right thing to do can seduce while faith loves What Is. Intellectual awareness of the way out is often a grasping attempt to escape from despair, an attempt to use positive thinking to change What Is. Acceptance allows despair to be despair and walking into the heart of that despair one may find an open doorway, a place to gently make contact, offering a touch of sobering kindness.

Or walking into the heart of any emotion. . .For myself, sometimes I just have to accept that I should be present with and accept this feeling and right now I'm not and I don't. Right now it sucks and is painful and I can't accept it. Right now I can't go further into it because I'm stuck in the looping of hating its presence... Sometimes those pointers to the 'healthy way of doing things' are just another way of romanticizing some state other than what is being experienced right now.

When someone feels anger or hate or anything else, it's authentic because it is what they are feeling. Noticing our emotions jumps to a different level once we are aware of our noticing... Then we have the response-ability to notice our reactions to our emotions. In the practice of accepting, we have to start with whatever is most present. If it's a response to an emotion that is most present then we have to accept our response and then perhaps down the road we can accept the emotion and then. . .

(some of these thoughts are adapted from a passage in
Robert Masters' book Darkness Shining Wild)
posted by ashley


An Original Self Writing Exercise

Meredith at Graceful Presence invites us to recognize our original face and to rest in an open place of acceptance, inhabiting our original self.

As a writing exercise, I will read her words (posted in pink) and then allow my own words to freely flow, accepting whatever comes out as this moment's expression of my original self. To help me not get tangled, I will turn of my monitor and allow my fingers to glide where they wish to go.

In this moment of pure holding, I recognize the person in me that came into this world full of possibility and destined for joyful unveiling and manifestation.

In this moment I feel the pure lightness of this self, the unbounded freedom inherent in my entity. I recognize my original face.

This -- my original self -- how to describe her? Well, she is open, naked, unhindered. She is inquisitive, receptive, and responsive. Though unaware of self, she views her intimate world to be emanating from her very self. She is not separate from others; indeed everything she sees seems to be an inexplicable extension of herself. She searches for eyes, for glimmers of knowing recognition in others. And when she feels this recognition her whole body responds with joyful exuberance. She reacts with amazement at the simplest of miracles. She does not know what love is because she is love.

In this moment of pure holding, I connect with the me that came into this world bright eyed, radiating life, and eager to play in this blessed game of living. I feel the fire in me that yearns to share joy, bliss, and beauty with myself, others, and the world around me. My whole body begins to tingle, as if I'm being lifted up, as I rest in love, acceptance of sweet simple love for all that is.

My mind kicks in... "Do you really think that all that is is love?" "Well, I do recognize a current of sweet simple love that flows beneath all that is. "

Connected to my original self, my vision is of infinite possibility and potential. My vision is always focused on trying to see that which is divine shining through that which is ordinary. I have a hunger and a commitment to offer presence to fullest potential unfolding in the world.

Connected to this original self, typing on a screen, sending words out into this public domain, I feel self-consciousness seeping in, I feel clunky with my words. . . how to communicate this felt-sense that I am experiencing. . .

There is a steady constant flow emanating from my body, pulsing/pouring out. It is highly focused around my heart, as if out pouring from there, but I can feel it originating in other areas too, though the stream is not as intense from those centers.

Another part of me seems to sweep in beneath and around this flow, embracing it. It's as if it is embracing an expansive space of throbbing essence.

And then there is a recognition of another essence supporting this entire 'scene'. It's like a stable foundation ( that is also made of this expansive, formless energy), upon which all else rests. . . and is supported.

Connected to my original self, I am all of these parts. There is no separation.

If you feel inspired, please share who you are, connected to your original self.
posted by ashley


Feeling the embrace

hearing from you, Ashley, how we have been in your thoughts recently too makes me realize how many layers of connection, community and care are active, often in ways we are not aware of.

Isn't this such a delight and powerful reminder. Christy Lee-Engel and I were talking this morning about the unique phenomena of online communities and how there is a built in component of connection and attention that often is unknown, but holds a potent space. We were speaking about forums and people that are generally called 'lurkers' (though we don't like that word). These people are engaging with the material, perhaps even sharing it forward with connections in their life, but aren't necessarily active participants in a forum. Their involvement is powerful and often invisible. In a face to face community you see them paying attention, you can tell they are involved. In an online setting this often goes unnoticed.

I find the same to be true with connections and relations. I know that for myself, I am constantly connecting with, relating to, and even engaging people in my life who are not present in my physical space. As you say, the layers of connection, community and care are active whether they are explicitly being communicated or not.

And then, of course, a wave of electric delight or effervescent bubbles rising and making a fizz, have the opportunity to run through our systems when connection, community, and care are acknowledged and we feel the essential embrace of intimacy, belonging, and acceptance.
posted by ashley


Following another's perspective

I always love it when people share a glimpse of what the world looks like through their unique human filter! From another woman who's easily amazed, Cathy Hayden:
A little hummimgbird got stuck in the garage
yesterday(with the doors open). The hummingbird
finally flew out - it was so sweet and delicate. It
made these little chirping noises like it was
frustrated. I felt like it was holding up the mirror
to me.

What a windy time it is. Right now outside, the wind
is blowing the trees and they are making that
beautiful soft sound they make in the wind. That sound
makes me melancholy and happy at the same time. A full
range. It promotes so many flashes of memory. I feel
like my past is blowing away ever so gently. My mother
is like that too. Fall is coming and there are new
things on the horizon for us.

The rain is tapping in or on the gutter. It is a
friendly sound. The crickets are making their happy
sound too. Life is a beautiful Monday night or Tuesday
morning but the crickets don't care about that. They
are just doing their job outside my window. We sure
are fortunate aren't we?!
We sure are. Thank you Cathy.
posted by ashley


Children in the face of disaster

Reading the stories. . .
In the chaos that was Causeway Boulevard in New Orleans last Thursday, one group of survivors stood out: a 6-year-old boy walking down the road, holding a 5-month-old, surrounded by five toddlers who followed him around as if he were their leader.

They were holding hands. Three of the children were about two years old, and one was wearing only diapers. A three-year-old girl, who wore colorful barrettes on the ends of her braids, had her 14-month-old brother in tow. The 6-year-old spoke for all of them, and he told rescuers his name was Deamonte Love.

they found Deamonte's mother, who was in a shelter in San Antonio along with the four mothers of the other five children. Catrina Williams, 26, saw her children's pictures on a web site set up over the weekend by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. By Sunday, a private plane from Angel Flight was waiting to take the children to Texas.

The water wasn't going down and they had been living without light, food or air conditioning for four days. The baby needed milk and the milk was gone. So she decided they would evacuate by helicopter. When a helicopter arrived to pick them up they were told to send the children first and that the helicopter would be back in 25 minutes. She and her neighbors had to make a quick decision.

"I told them to go ahead and give them up, because me, I would give my life for my kids. They should feel the same way," said Love, 48. "They were shedding tears. I said, Let the babies go.'"

The helicopter didn't come back.

"I think what's going to stick with them is that they survived Hurricane Katrina," he said. "And that they were loved."

Project K.I.D is an initiative that is responding to Kids in Devastation.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina's devastation, children in many areas are starving, dehydrated, unsupervised, and mentally distraught. Play, which is the work of children, has ceased. Some parents have even sought to sign their children over to governmental authorities to secure relief for their children.

Those involved in on-the-ground relief efforts agree that immediate emergency child care services are desperately needed in areas devastated by disaster.

PROJECT: K.I.D.--Responding to Kids in Devastation--is a new non-profit organization created to quickly deliver child care services in the most devastated areas. Based in Fairhope, Alabama, this organization is bringing together individuals, relief organizations, businesses, and government agencies to collect supplies, organize volunteers, coordinate transportation into and out of devastated areas and ensure that parents and children are provided safe, reliable, and much needed respite child care.

Here is a list of their Urgent Needs, how to help, and how to volunteer. You can also follow the blog for updates.

posted by ashley


First Day of School

Patti Flick mentored me in being a school counselor. Being in her presence as she moves through a school of children, one observation is immediate... The children LOVE and ADORE her and she LOVES and ADORES them. As I looked closer I saw it was because they knew without a doubt that she saw them. She recognized them and adored seeing them, loving them and letting them know that. Walking down the halls you see her eyes fixed on their eyes, her loving heart sweeping them up and embracing them as they walk by, and her warm body doing the same when they come and soak her in hugs.

Yesterday was the kids first day of school, I am their new counselor (for those in pre-kindergarten through third grade). The head of the school introduced all of us newbies. We stand up on the stage as she talks about who we are, a sea of kid's faces looking up. As I stood there, I looked straight into those glowing (and some bored and restless) eyes. And my little right hand was waving when contact was made. It was such a gift to watch as these little waves started springing up through the audience. And these faces of 'see me, see me. Yes! She sees me' would bubble about. I was so amazed by how strong that hunger, desire, need to be seen and appreciation of being seen is, even in a large assembly. I felt so blessed to be standing up there offering some of these children the gift that, Yes! We as adults are out here looking at you and it's possible for you to want to be seen as a unique individual in a sea of bodies, and to actually be seen.

This story swept over me this morning as I read Meredith's comment that I am fortunate and my bliss is contagious. I have such gratitude for my fortune and I pray that bliss and hope be contagious. Can you feel it?
posted by ashley


Helping Enrich the Field

This is a word for word replication of Christy's post at Life Cultivating Life. It is projects like this one which I find easily amazing in their living expression of life cultivating life!

Michelle and Joel Levey, radiant and soulful friends and mentors, will be two of about 60 professional facilitators working to support the interactive conversation portions of the inaugural meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative in New York Sept. 15-17.

From the statement of mission by President Clinton:
"...This nonpartisan conference will concentrate a diverse and select group of current and former heads of state, business leaders, noteworthy academicians, and key NGO representatives to identify immediate and pragmatic solutions to some of the world’s most pressing problems. The workshops will focus on how to reduce poverty; use religion as a force for reconciliation and conflict resolution; implement new business strategies and technologies to combat climate change; and strengthen governance. Our meeting will emphasize dynamic group interaction to identify an agenda we can actually implement.

By identifying specific ways to address the challenges of our time and asking each participant to make a specific commitment to take action in one of the areas discussed, I believe this Initiative will prove to be a unique and effective forum for leaders and their communities around the world. What we begin during three days this September will continue throughout the year to come with coordinated implementation of our agenda..."
"In my life now, I am obsessed with only two things: I don't want anybody to die before their time. And I don't want to see good people spend their energies without making a difference...You can change the reality of human history by systemic action."
The coordinator of the facilitator group, Ruthann Prange, sent this request to subscribers of the Collective Wisdom Initiative listserv:
"If you are drawn to look at the website you'll see the issues being addressed (poverty, religion, climate change, governance) and the invited participants from around the world would certainly be well served by the wisest available collective intelligence. So please send your strongest signals our way on the 16th and 17th, help enrich the field in which the conference participants will be working. And help those of us physically present to BE present, intentional about holding the space, and freed from our personal advocacy positions so that we can support emergent collective intelligence.
posted by ashley



Can I see another's woe,
And not be in sorrow too?
Can I see another's grief
And not seek for kind relief ? ( William Blake)

My professional life takes me into America's cities. It is there i have come to "see" that there are 2 America's in our country. Most priveledged folks need never enter these communites...need never to see the hopelessness, despair and slow genocide that takes place there on a daily basis. Perhaps that is why no one really planned for the removal of the poor from New Orleans.....

America is quickly becoming a country of extremes...and although our communities are often close together... the poor are, for the most part, invisible to the well off.

38 million citizens live in poverty in America. The rich are getting richer and the poor have fallen by the wayside.....

The tragedy we are watching un-fold on our TV sets have put poverty front and center....in the face of America....

my hope is that we respond deeply to this tragedy...... America must do more then just rebuild New Orleans.....

we need to look deeply into the hidden faces of poverty in America...

we need to change this picture.......
posted by kang


"Come as you are" Party

A question
How do we invite people to be more aware of such experiences as recognizing another's wide open door, or feeling an internal pulsing that ignites one's being like effervescence? How do we open space for such awareness? Obviously one route that I enjoy is talking about it, pointing it out... Any practices that you enjoy?

Christy brilliantly responded:
sometimes it has taken years (years, i tell you!) of knowing someone superficially to suddenly realize that the normal polite walls and doors between me, and that person, were just veils. not even veils, just fog in my eyes. that realization does seem to happen faster these days--always i think about our friend anne stadler's statement: "we have to develop the capacity for instant connection". my capacity has definitely been developed and conditioned by my favorite habit of spending time with people who live in that open-doored open space (open to pretty much anyone, not only to me)--like yourself and like anne s, and other heart-tribe friends and relations, and like many spiritual teachers & practitioners i have gotten to know. also, having experience of the warm humming-fizzing-fire feeling makes it easier and easier to recognize each time it happens anew. noticing whether people let me look them right in the eyes or not, and whether or not i want to, is sometimes another clue for me.

of course, ideally i will want to open the door to any soul whose path i cross, but i can't say that i have reached that stage yet.

speaking of an open door policy and walls and doors turning to fog, Karen shared:
In recent years, the boundaries between my work and play have become pretty permeable. These distinctions often feel like self (and other)-imposed artificial barriers that prevent us from embracing the fullness of being who and how we are. At some point or another, I just started treating my life as one big invitation to "come as you are" party, showing up as I am in whatever context in which I happen to be and do my best to interact authentically with whatever is...noticing and naming and opening and closing in service of furthering what'’s most honest within, between and among us.
Christy and Karen, Thank you both for inviting me to your "come as you are" party... and you that's reading, it's wonderful to have you with us!!
posted by ashley

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