Use What You’re Given

Soup’s On

“Every situation, no matter how challenging, is conspiring
to bring you home to you.” ~Panache Desai

A nasty February blizzard is cooking outside – the wind is blowing so hard that the snow is not falling to the ground so much as blowing south horizontally.  I watch it blow like stink and Thank God for indoor plumbing… Can you imagine having to wade out to an outhouse in this??!

So, what goes best with a blizzard? It’s definitely den time with the family.  And I find myself craving soup. Yes, soup sounds yummy. But I hadn’t really planned on making soup this weekend. I didn’t buy soup fixin’s… what to do? what to do?  Hmmm, maybe I can use what I’ve been given and rustle up some soup anyway. I love a challenge.   🙂

After rummaging through the refrigerator, here’s what went into the soup this morning:

1/2 onion, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 cup fresh spinach leaves     I live on greens – my nickname around here is Popeye, so I always have spinach or kale or something green in the fridge

1/2 roast chicken, bones removed, skin tossed in to make broth     This is leftover roast chicken from 5 nights ago. I bought it when I didn’t feel like cooking
1/2 lime, juiced     I’ve never put this in soup before, so it’s purely experimental
1 Clove garlic     Required – my hubby LOVES pretty much anything with garlic in it
Salt and Pepper

In an hour I’ll pull out the chicken skin, add water and toss in 1 cup rice, 1 tsp. dried lemongrass and let it simmer a few minutes longer. The smell is already filling the house and making my mouth water!

 Use what you’re given is an idea from a little book, Instructions to the Cook, written by Glassman & Fields. These two Zen practitioners ran charities that provided food and housing for the homeless on a shoestring budget for years. So they know all about creating something special from whatever you’re given. And their little book has inspired me on many occasions to stop, take a deep breath and figure out how to happily use whatever life is giving me in this moment.

“Life always gives us 
exactly the teacher we need 
at every moment. 
This includes every mosquito, 
every misfortune, 
every red light, 
every traffic jam, 
every obnoxious supervisor (or employee), 
every illness, every loss, 
every moment of joy or depression, 
every addiction, 
every piece of garbage, 
every breath. 

Every moment is the guru.”

 ~Charlotte Joko Beck
Use what you’re given.
Every moment can be bliss or shit – you choose.

Magic Morning

Flatirons in Snow

“Let me bring you songs from the woods…”
~Jethro Tull

A bit of serendipity…

This morning I ended up taking a hike in Chautauqua Park. I had an appointment, but the Universe had other plans for me!  I was already in Boulder when I found out that my morning appointment was cancelled. What to do with 2 hours? What to do?  So many possibilities!

Flagstaff Mountain called out to me, and I found myself driving to Chautauqua.  It was a beautiful morning to be outside, sunny and cool with a few inches of day old snow blanketing the mountain. As I began hiking straight uphill in snow, I questioned the wisdom of my decision. But legs and lungs soon adjusted to the climb and the view of the Flatirons was enough to keep me going.

Along the way, I relished the silence – what is it about snow on the ground that makes the woods so still?  I felt like I was walking in sacred silence. Step by step, I picked my way carefully up and down the snowy slopes. Walking in snow became my morning meditation practice. With each step, my mind cleared and my heart opened wider.

Mama Pine

Down in a hollow where I have never hiked before, I met this old Mama pine tree.  I stood and listened to her view of the world for awhile.

I leaned against Mama pine’s trunk, listening and looking up into her branches, After 5 minutes in her space, I felt like I had been at a meditation retreat for days!  And my heart opened even wider. Such is the calming, cleansing power of old trees.

Tree Web

Thank you Mama pine for sharing some of your essence with me.

You helped me make it a magic morning.

☾ ☽

“…a Sign that the Universal Mind
has written you into the Passion Play”

~Jethro Tull, Skating Away…

Snowflake Wisdom

St. Vrain in Snow

February has never been my favorite month. The weather can be cold and  brutal. And snow is expected here in the Colorado Rockies today. Winter can seem endless in February. But a little story in  The 13 Original Clan Mothers stopped my winter grumbling and gave me a way to actually enjoy February.

The period of days from one new moon to the next is a moon month. According to Native American teachings, every moon month is watched over by a different Clan Mother.  Early February is within the 2nd moon month of the year; Grandmother Wisdom Keeper watches over this moon cycle. Wisdom Keeper holds the knowing that the entire history of this planet is held within the stones of Mother Earth. And that every part of nature helps hold our history.

One day in February, Grandmother Wisdom Keeper was out walking in nature and a little snowflake spoke to her.  Here is an excerpt of the Wisdom Keeper legend from Jamie Sams’ book:

“…On the Rock Person’s surface was a perfectly frozen snowflake. The intricate pattern of the snowflake seemed to float above the blue-gray of the stone’s surface.Wisdom Keeper bent closer, being careful that the warmth of her breath did not melt the frozen web suspended in the early morning frost. “Oh Snowflake,” she whispered to herself, “what a genuinely rare gift of winter you are.” 

The snowflake surprised Wisdom Keeper by answering her whispered thoughts, causing the Clan Mother’s heartbeat to quicken.

You may call me Ice Web, Mother. When Grandmother Spider wove the web of Creation, she created Snowflakes to represent the webs of dreams that would travel from the Dreamtime to Earth, becoming living, physical experiences.”

Wisdom Keeper had never encountered a talking snowflake before. In her curiosity, the Keeper of Earth’s Records felt impelled to ask Ice Web further questions in order to fully understand the roles that the Great Mystery gave the Ice-beings of winter. “What an extraordinary mission you have, Ice Web. Will you tell me more about how your Medicine assists our Planetary Family so that I may hold that understanding for the Two-leggeds?” 

“Of course I will, Wisdom Keeper. I was preserved in frost so that my passage through your life would not go unnoticed. You must record the purpose of my role in nature so that every Child of Earth will know how her or his dreams and visions aid the spiritual growth of the whole Planetary Family. 

Mother, every one of the Children of Earth has feelings and dreams according to his or her place in the scheme and balance of nature. When combined, all of those dreams and feelings make up the needs of the Children of Earth. The snowflakes are the messengers of those needs because our bodies hold the patterns of each individual dream. When Grandfather Sun’s warmth melts our bodies into water, the feelings of the collected dreams are poured into the Earth Mother’s soil, giving her the understanding of her children’s deepest desires.”

☾ ☽

I LOVE this view of the world where every part of nature has a purpose and wants to help us! A world where tiny snowflakes hold our most precious dreams for us. They hold and cherish each tiny seed until our dreams can sprout and grow in the warmth of spring.

Here’s wishing that many, many snowflakes fall today. I’d like one to hold and cherish each one of my winter dreams, please!

Snow on Front Range

Winter Den Time

Today I’m grateful for short days, long nights, freezing snow and ice…

The harsh weather  of winter calls me home to the warmth of good food and loving family and friends. Winter blows in and  I know it’s time to slow down, snuggle up and relax in the safety of my home den, surrounded by my pack.  Thank you winter for encouraging me to pause for a little while.

“I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says “Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.”
~Lewis Carroll

Today I’m Grateful for… January Blue

“Blue Skies, Smiling at Me…”

“You are the sky.
Everything else – it’s just the weather.”

~Pema Chodron 

Today is another January Blue kind of day…Anything is possible when the Sky is this blue!

But, why is the sky so blue?? Why not red or purple or green?  Am I the only one who wonders about this?  Apparently not. 🙂  NASA scientists share the scientific reason for our brilliant blue sky below:

“It is easy to see that the sky is blue. Have you ever wondered why? A lot of other smart people have, too. And it took a long time to figure it out!

The light from the Sun looks white. But it is really made up of all the colors of the rainbow.  Like energy passing through the ocean, light energy travels in waves, too. Some light travels in short, “choppy” waves. Other light travels in long, lazy waves.Blue light waves are shorter than red light waves.

All light travels in a straight line unless something gets in the way to reflect it (like a mirror, bend it (like a prism, or scatter it (like molecules of the gases in the atmosphere

Sunlight reaches Earth’s atmosphere and is scattered in all directions by all the gases and particles in the air. Blue light is scattered in all directions by the tiny molecules of air in Earth’s atmosphere. Blue is scattered more than other colors because it travels as shorter, smaller waves. This is why we see a blue sky most of the time.”


So, that’s the logical reason. Pretty cool.

But I also love this 14th century Persian mystic’s “crazy”, illogical thoughts about our blue sky:

All this time
The Sun never says to the Earth,

“You owe me.”

What happens
With a love like that,
It lights the whole sky.”


Hope you’re having a January Blue sky kind of day too.  And if you woke up to face a gray sky – inside or outside – what would it take to shift and choose January Blue instead?  Just go for it.

Simple Joys Abound

Sun on Frost

 “Joy is the simplest form of gratitude.”
Karl Barth

Day Joy

wool socks
long walk

quiet woods
friendly dog

sun on frost.

Night Joy

moonless sky
soft bed

warm promise

dark quiet
winter dreams.

simple joys abound