If possible, find a big one. Lie on the ground under it, preferably on a couple of inches of soft pine needles. Look up through the branches.
Breathe. Do nothing much. Notice how the fragrance of the pine comes down to meet you.
When earthing is what you need there is no better place to feel Mother Earth than under a pine tree. Some trees lift you, raise you up — but pine trees create a down-draft effect. They are grounding.
As you lie on your back, look up through the flowing canopy above you. If the pine tree has branches extending fairly low to the ground, notice the breezy space between the bottom branches and the horizon. Watch how the space dances.
Turn on your side, and you’ll likely see the handiwork of spiders, their glassy strands flung between grasses, the glimmers tossing in the gentle breeze and appearing and disappearing with the sun’s assistance.
Give your eyes a rest while you listen to the hoot owl in the distance. Upon opening them again, notice the view. The sun has moved ever so slightly, highlighting a new stand of trees, or patch of land with cattle grazing, or insects in flight.
Spend time under this pine tree. As much as you can before the sun goes down.
If your dog is with you, it’s good for him, too, wandering and smelling and lingering over details. Finally, he’ll sit down with you, nose on paws, and rest as well.
Recently, as my dog Jackson and I walked this beautiful property belonging to my dear friends, I became especially aware of the many types of pines on their land. Some stood in solidarity with others, nine in a line. Some huddled in small groups. Some singular types, tall and skinny, put their full attention on heading for the sky.
Some pines had loop-d-loop branches, the kind that made me think of Christmas trees decorated with old-fashioned strings of popcorn and cranberries. Others draped their greens from the lower side of branches like loose skin.
Several pines were strong, steady and stocky, sporting picture-book-perfect shapes. Others were barely there, a lightweight version of living for sure — practically no greenery, and miles between wispy branches.
Certain pines seemed entirely disorganized. Wads, splats, bunches of pine-something-or-other covered their limbs and trunks entirely, offering a lumpy hello.
There were Halloween pines, too, with scraggly, wind-worn branches and pointy hats. Some cowered. Some hovered over.
The rough looking crowd was balanced by a row of pines wearing (I swear) green roses blooming (yes) in winter.
And, as I walked, the flashy florescent green group made me smile. This bright bunch paid no mind nor matter to the tradition of drab winter wrappings. Their cloaks were totally tropical — lifting, warming and cheering the spirit of any onlooker.
I’ve walked this property many times, but had not really seen it. On that day, I accepted nature’s standing invitation to appreciate more deeply.
Several days later, I attended a large event in Charleston, SC and viewed the thousands of humans before me with the kind of appreciation nature encourages. What a stunning variety of humans we have on this planet!
Driving home from the event, I felt more conscious, more awake. As I walked into my home, I smiled about the disorganized “splat” corner, the bathroom with a tropical feel, and yes, the part of my home that feels like roses blooming in winter.
Tell me, won’t you please, what you see with your new eyes….
I’ve been thinking about our most satisfying, loving relationships and how they are made — how every piece, every element, every feature moves into place to create an experience of friendship, say, or being in love.
Which made me think about Haute Couture. How freely a beautiful garment is imagined. How a sketch on paper comes alive step by step.
Have you ever watched an artisan seamstress at work? The way she holds a needle, slips it through a sequin, and attaches it to a cloud of white fabric? It’s truly a thing of beauty. Her hands are beautiful, the way they move is beautiful.
Her hands are precise — yet free.
Until recently, I had not considered the roots of Haute Couture, that it comes from history and culture. It’s about creating something beautiful and timeless — through touch.
Think about the touch aspect with me for a moment. Haute Couture is about measuring, drawing, cutting, folding, tucking, and stitching pieces into place to create wearable art, something of timeless beauty.
Garments are created over many hours by many hands working together. To complete a handmade gown, it takes a team of hands somewhere between one hundred and seven hundred hours.
Human relationships are about touch, too. Many hands over many hours created beautiful you. And the influence of your hands has created beautiful others….
Think of the hours we spend holding the baby, stroking the baby’s head. How we place the fork next to the plate of food offered. Or how our hand moves to the shoulder of our loved one as we offer reassurance.
Think about the amount of time we spend creating love with others. Think of the conversation you imagine in your mind, the scissors you use to edit it, the way you fold new ideas into relating to your partner over time.
Are we aware of the beauty we’re creating every day with those we love? Do we pay attention to our relationships in conscious and attentive ways as artisans do?
In Haute Couture videos, notice the relaxed way hundreds of garment details are added one by one, layer by layer. Nobody seems to be rushing. Every detail is chosen, touched, placed, and secured as if there is plenty of time for it.
I think of the conversation I had yesterday with my landlord or with a friend on the phone. Did I do that, too?
At least once a year, I take time to watch a five-minute video of someone draping a garment. If you watch this one by Dior https://youtu.be/sGULpcJKbmc it will give you a new appreciation for your upcoming day or week, I promise.
The Creative Director of Valentino, Pierpaolo Piccioli, says fashion is about the moment, beauty is about eternity. That a beautiful creation is… “close to the inner grace of people.”
Today, my simple wish for all of us is to notice our inner grace. Our hands. Our scissors. Our measuring tape. How we personally build colors and textures into relationships of those we love.
I recommend approaching this observation with appreciation only. Nothing needs to change, everything is just right, you’re simply noticing how you imagine, how you create.
Maybe you’ll become more aware of your personal version of building a light-filled gown covered with butterflies on a breezy day.
Or you’ll notice how and when you add the deepest colors to your relationships. How you add love layers or word sequins. How you gently weave streams of silver-ribboned compassion into an intimate moment with someone you love.
This morning I’m still dreamy-eyed about the Buddha Bowl I ate recently at “All Day Darling” in Asheville on Montford Street. Oh, and the Miel Latte, too. (Espresso, honey, allspice, salt and steamed milk.) Goodness — way dreamy.
If I lived next door to All Day Darling, I might be tempted to give up cooking altogether. OK, probably not, but the food is delicious and not what I would readily prepare myself.
While my friend, Janet, and I talked about all things life-affirming, challenging, and just plain funny, the sun poured on our little corner of the restaurant, turning the conversation especially warm and golden. We appreciated the bright day, given so many gray skies lately, and thoroughly enjoyed the chance to catch up in both a deep, and delicious way.
Since then, I’ve been thinking about the food, yes, but also the name of the restaurant. I’ve noticed that saying “All Day Darling” to myself causes an inner smile and produces happy energy. I daresay the very name itself encourages lighthearted thinking.
By the way, the “all day” part of the name refers to serving every item on the menu all day. But the “darling” part — does it refer to the food, the people who work there — or is it that customers become more darling after they eat? Probably a dash of each.
So, you know me, I pondered …
What if you and I followed the pleasure trend of this wonderful food establishment? What if we became all-day-darling ourselves — what would it mean?
Would we be more darling to ourselves? To others? What menu items would we serve all day?
Yesterday, in favor of experimenting, I served “gentle” all day. Especially in the smallest, most fleeting moments, such as taking the effort out of reaching for a dish on a high shelf or noticing my breath as I drove.
For me personally, the darling idea means generous helpings of kindness. It means letting movement, thought, and feeling unfold in gentler, freer ways. Those are important ingredients in my dish called darling.
I took time to call someone I’ve been thinking about. I wrote a thank you and sent it by mail along with a gift. I took a walk outside, and did absolutely no thinking. I was truly empty-headed, and it felt great.
I also cozied up to my to-do list, which might sound strange when it comes to being more darling, but here’s what happens with me and my list. My tendency is to leave small items undone. These days, I tend to gravitate to chunky projects, such as finishing my second book, and the rest waits — too long.
But yesterday I gave it a go. I chose a couple simple items and took care of them, which felt downright darling! I also took a short nap. Super darling.
Want to play with this all-day-darling idea with me? I’d love to hear your darling stories. Can’t wait!
Today I’m sharing three truths about relating to others and we’re starting with the hunkiest one.
Here we go.
Truth One. Being in a relationship doesn’t cause. It reveals.
You might want to read this first hunky truth several times.
Being in a relationship doesn’t cause trouble or cause happiness. Instead, a relationship reveals us.
A relationship shows how we relate to ourselves. How we feel about who we are. How we take care of ourselves. What we know and don’t. What we understand. What we believe.
And therefore, it reveals the ingredients we naturally add to the dish called “us.”
If your intimate relationship was a cake made daily, the batter would bake according to the recipe you choose. How is the aroma today? How does it taste? Is the texture of your connection light and fluffy, or dense and heavy? How does that work for you? Does it need frosting?
If your association with someone could be compared to a Savory Squash Tart which is lovely in appearance but tastes meh, so-so, and it’s a little dry — there you go. That’s valuable information. What will you do with that realization?
If your marriage is delicious Coconut Red Curry, and today’s batch could use more depth of flavor, what will you add?
The way your relationship expresses itself demonstrates what it’s made of. You can observe a relationship and list the ingredients.
By the way, if you find yourself thinking about a past “relationship disaster” and wondering what that means about you, remember there are honest-to-goodness authentic, positive aspectsto every situation. This is a longer story for another time, so for now, we’ll stick with the simple version.
You’re personally in charge of ingredients. A relationship reveals you.
Truth Two. A relationship with another works the way you (personally) work.
The gears of your relationship with yourself turn the wheels of every other relationship you have. Your partnerships, connections, and friendships with others are built and maintained the way you treat yourself and take care of yourself.
They would have to be. It’s what you know.
Let’s call you a vehicle. Your accelerator pedal, anti-lock braking system, headlights, and cruise control system express you perfectly. Of course they do! The adjustable suspension matches you. Your anti-theft system, aerodynamic drag, antenna — all are uniquely yours.
Every feature of your vehicle — your fuel pump, the quality of tires that carry you, the range of steering available to you — all of it is congruent with who you’ve become.
How you personally travel determines the smoothness of your other relationships. How you take care of yourself paves the way to how you maintain your relationships with others.
Truth Three. You accept another human to the degree you accept yourself.
Your ability to love someone, to bring that person fully into your heart, to welcome all of who they are — shortcomings, kinks, blind spots and all — is an out-picturing of how you’ve practiced the art of love and acceptance with yourself.
Your heart grows with your partner or friend as much as it grows in you, with you, for you.
Certain fundamental truths about relationships (including these three) are often not deeply, fully understood on a practical, day-to-day level.
For instance, clients don’t typically ask for help in receiving their partner. Clients don’t approach me for sessions saying, “Please teach me to love, understand and accept my partner just the way s/he is.”
Instead, they tell me what’s difficult about their partner and ask how to change them. If they bring their partner to sessions, they (secretly) hope I’ll help with partner repairs.
It’s natural, it’s human to say please fix the issue over there in that other person so I can feel better. I get it.
However, molding others to suit our needs isn’t a sustainable practice. Sooner or later others resent us for tinkering with them. Some leave.
“Please fix my partner so I can be happy” may be where a consulting session begins, but soon we take a different path.
We go to the heart of you, where the power to change is idling. Resting. Living well.
We go to the part of you waiting for an invitation.
You’re writing me texts and emails saying the dearest things about 100 WORDS: SMALL SERVINGS OF WHIMSY AND WISDOM TO CALM THE MIND AND NOURISH THE HEART.
What I love about what you’re saying is that the words move you in some way — they speak to you, they matter. Because you took to heart the message from “As Above, So Below” you’re now “spilling shakers of light over stray concerns of the day.”
You mention how the little black sandals on page seventeen make you smile and give you hope for getting through a monumental change. Or that you appreciate the conciseness and brevity of each piece, or how a photograph took you by the hand into a poem.
One person said the last two lines of “On Love” became her mantra one day when she needed it most. “Love breathes you, moves you. It’s what built your heart.”
One person let me know she kept 100 WORDS on her nightstand to read a small sampling each night because, as she put it, “These are poems to be savored.” She appreciated the small bites.
One of my editor’s favorite poems is “How To Realize Your Beauty.” She tucked 100 WORDS into her traveling bag and read it aloud to a couple of groups she belongs to, and the sharing was well-received. The poem even prompted a discussion with her son. My daughter especially loved “Pearls in the Morning,” a poem about creativity.
My mother (who is 92) called me shortly after receiving her copy. She was smiling over the phone and said with a lilt in her voice, “I read your book last night. I noticed there’s a mention of a 92-year-old.”
I said, “Yes, Mom, I wanted to let you know I’m always thinking of you.”
What a sweet moment with my mother!
This week, a woman sent a text from the waiting room of her doctor’s office. She was reading (and crying about) “No Longer Here,” one hundred words about golf and love. The poem reminded her of her father, who passed years ago. He was a golfer, too, and she was missing the aspects of their relationship she loved most.
Another reader sent an evening email and I happened to see it as I was pulling back the heavenly comforter on my (heavenly) bed. She wrote, “I got my books. Read three pages. Found myself breathless. Just sitting here feeling thankful for the gift of you. And my books.”
I doubt if there’s anything more wonderful for a writer to hear than “your writing left me breathless.”
From your responses it appears that the words are swimming into the warmth of your hearts and resting there. I love that. I’m so thankful for that.
Thank you for your ongoing feedback. Thank you for reaching out to tell me what 100 WORDS means to you.