Mindfulness, Etc.

Being mindful in the present moment is not always easy, but when I make the effort, it allows me to absorb and experience life, nature, and others in ways that contribute to inter-being and peaceful interactions. (Walking/hiking more often is ideal. Painting and gardening are also wonderful mindful meditations.  Some of my painted rocks are pictured below.)


I took this photo of a lotus flower at Blue Cliff Monastery in upstate New York a few years ago.  I became acquainted with Buddhism while reading Jack Kerouac in 1988, but Thich Nhat Hanh became my spiritual father (in 2005) and Pema Chodron (after that) my spiritual mother years later.  (The larger truth is that humans know from childhood on.)  I have also been incorporating mindfulness in my English and Creative Writing classes for quite some time now.

MindLESSly daydreaming, creating, and connecting at home and with others through community projects is fun as well.



Our Garden

(written on Father’s Day 2017 and revised in 2018)

Our garden brings me great joy

Because it connects me to the natural wonders of my world:

My grandfathers and mothers,

My father,

My mother,

My sister,

My cousins,

My aunts and uncles,

My friends,

My father-in-law,

And my dear partner in life,

Who has lost much and is struggling to regain,

As have I,

As have many of us,

And for whom I am eternally grateful,

In this life and the Great Beyond.

As the tomatoes, cucumbers, spinach, carrots,

Rosemary, oregano, thyme, basil, and mint grow,

The petunias bloom,

The sunflowers, milkweed, zinnias, and old fashions rise up,

The dipladenia beckon the hummingbirds,

The daisy patches chuckle in the wind,

The salvia comes back to life,

The birds sing their glorious songs,

The bumblebees and butterflies fly by in hopes of drinking sweet nectar,

The double wings of the dragonflies shimmer,

And as the energy travels there and here and back again

As people do whatever they wish to make themselves happy and the world a better place,

I know that all is well

Under the warm sun

In this one beautiful moment of truth.


Oh, how fortunate I am to be alive,

No matter how difficult life can be sometimes.


We live in a pluralistic society. A Unitarian Universalist* or other type (including an atheist or agnostic) who respects the Constitution and knows how to maintain the separation of religious institutions and State as well as welcomes a range of ideas and is inspired by them to offer understandings and make decisions would make a great Supreme Court Justice, Congressperson, Governor,  or President.


*I have been exploring Unitarian Universalism as a seeker or within a community since the 1990s.


Hypothetically Speaking

What about the homeless veterans and other people struggling on the streets and farms?

What about the people of Puerto Rico living and dying in the dark?

What about the water in Flint and other cities and the people drinking it?

What about the black snake that destroys the sacred land?

What about the classrooms with broken chairs and crumbling textbooks and the fights in the halls?

What about the addicted mother putting Mountain Dew in her baby’s bottle and all the other mothers who can’t afford to feed their children let alone pay for childcare?

What about all the deaths from guns that had nothing to do with gang violence?

What about the gang of racists promoting and committing violence?

What about all the Matthew Shepards and his sisters who killed themselves instead?

What about the drugged and violated victims who should be believed?

What about the banned despite freedom of religion and founders’ faith in separation of church and state?

What about the innocent man in handcuffs ripped from his home and broken by the black shirts?

What about the kids in cages separated from their parents and the world crying for them?

What about the bees and butterflies that help us grow as well?

What about transitioning to a society run by people who care rather than those on the run?


Update on 8/5/18: Inspired by a student’s suggestion and after undergoing a year of brainstorming and planning, soon we will have our first EHS #Zen Garden set up meeting at the high school where I teach. On this day, we will put fabric and rocks down.  Here is a definition and statement to help all understand our purpose.

zen a state of calm attentiveness in which one’s actions are guided by intuition rather than by conscious effort 

Perhaps that is the zen of gardening—you become one with the plants, lost in the rhythm of the tasks at hand.  — Irene Virag

#creativity #unity #peace

On Thursday, August 23rd, a few of us did get together to begin the EHS Zen Garden.  Consider it part one of a very rough draft so far.

Zen 2

Zen 3


The EHS Zen Garden combines philosophy, science, art and many other disciplines.  Our plans include the following and more.
*We will plant milkweed to bring in Monarch butterflies, which will help to restore the shrinking butterfly population and teach students about the situation and how to improve it.
*We will plant perennial herbs, such as sage, that could be used by the Foods classes in the creation of delicious dishes as well as other perennials that can withstand heat and cold and are drought tolerant.  We would like to rely on natural rainfall to reduce maintenance and increase simple joy.
*We will have paintings on the brick of the building and the walls of the shed, all contributed by art students and teachers and anyone else who is interested.  These paintings will emphasize nature and other related topics.  (We think that religion should not be a focus because EHS is a public school.)
*Art students will also contribute mandala rocks.
*Students, teachers, administrators, and anyone else will contribute other pieces and anything else that fits into the themes of the garden….as time goes on.  No stress! 
*We thank Home Depot for providing the pebbles at a discount.
*In the future, I will write a grant proposal if we need funds for larger items (such as a fountain or pond).  
*We look forward to and appreciate everyone’s efforts and contributions.

April 19th, 2019



(A poem I read on the first night of Beacon Open Stage in June)


The external world

Feels dim and dingy,

Cold, divisive, and painful,

Unlike anything

I have ever known.

Experiencing tender joy is one



Writing a simple poem,

Planting seeds to

Welcome butterflies later,

Walking along a wooded path,

Listening to the ebb and flow of ocean waves,

Basking in the sunlight on a sandy beach,

Spending time with loved ones

Are ways to



Relying on limited understandings is futile,

But resisting authoritarianism

Is not

No matter what anyone tells us.



The time is now  

To remember who we were

Before anyone told us who to hate,

To remember how to connect with

The natural beauty and truth within ourselves and each other,

To remember to light the inner candle

Of warmth, clarity, and peace

That unites us all

In the darkness.

Thank you for reading.  Have the best day possible.















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