PeerSpirit Blog

Being a Responsible Traveler

Mid-August and I’m back home on Whidbey Island bringing in garden bounty and kayaking in local waters after a 10-day vacation on Kaua’i with family—my partner, my daughter Sally, her partner Joe, our grandchildren, and also my sister Margaret and her family. We were a party of nine, ages ranging from 5 to 70. When she was sixteen, I took Sally to Hawai’i in a special mother/daughter trip. She’s thirty-three now and has been wanting ...
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Half-mast in sunlight

Friday afternoon in my little village by the sea. Second Street is closed for a summer market: flowers, vegetables, crafts, bread, the stalls are lined up and people stroll through. Dogs on leash are everywhere. Two friends have a new puppy they are carrying in arms. Sunshine and a refreshing breeze off the water. My father and I are sitting at a patio table in front of the Commons coffee shop chatting about his upcoming ...
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The Courage of a Quester

Carrying a tent, tarp, sleeping bag, and clothing back from a solo site one mile from base camp, a lone quester returns from 48 hours of living alone. Eleven other questers will also soon be returning from their solo spots around this valley in eastern Washington in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. In the tradition of vision quests, these people went seeking answers to life’s questions by spending time alone in nature without electronics, food, or ...
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The Thread You Follow

I recently attended the 3rd National Journal Writing Conference— representing a 25-year cycle in my life. Kay Adams, a dynastic/prolific author of journal writing books, founder of Therapeutic Writing Institute, Center for Journal Therapy, and several other entities devoted to writing practice, has three times called together a tribe of journal writers. In 1991, she and I, Kay Leigh Hagan, and Dan Wakefield were faculty at the first conference just as Life’s Companion was coming ...
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Can you see anything positive about this?

This is the most common question I am being asked once people learn I attended a Sea Level Rise conference in Seattle sponsored by the Tulalip Tribe, the University of Washington Climate Impacts Group, NOAA, EPA, USGS, and several other Puget Sound agencies. It is an impressive list of sponsors. One hundred fifty people gathered at the Mountaineers Building on the shore of Lake Washington on April 26 and 27, 2016. I served as scribe ...
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My life is a full-time job

I emerge from two weeks of “Grandma Camp” and family time, and realize that it’s April and I’m about to turn 70 years old! The world is greening around me— asparagus is up, tulips are peaking, and our flowering crab apple tree is having a glorious bloom after soaking winter rains. I am profoundly thankful to be surrounded by this beauty; and I know it is impermanent, and I know I am impermanent. Turning 70 ...
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Play Makes Everything Work Better

Our annual two-week Grandma Camp just ended. We had a marvelous time working and playing together with our 11-year-old and 5-year-old grandchildren. And one of life’s powerful lessons that I relearned yet again is that everything is more fun, efficient, and productive if play is involved. Beach outings to walk the dog have to involve getting wet even when the water temperature is 50 degrees F. and the air is barely 5 degrees higher than ...
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Writing Time

Tuesday and Thursday mornings—it says in my electronic calendar: Christina writes… an injunction that spins out through the year and into perpetuity—purposely. This is my commitment for the foreseeable future: save time to write, and use it to write! Yeah. Right. A review of the past weeks: Tuesday: PeerSpirit Annual Meeting to set our course for the year. Thursday: yay—WRITING. Tuesday: Fly to Austin, TX with Ann to present a day of health care consulting ...
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Pilgrimage Back to Denver

Recently I was asked to give opening remarks at a pediatric care conference named in honor of my son. My preparation included both a careful crafting of remarks and a deep recognition of the significance of returning to Brian’s home city of Denver. There was a ritual for getting there. First, call close family and friends. All of us love Brian. We draw strength, meaning, and understanding from one another’s stories, words, and actions. We ...
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Stardust, Black Holes, & Fog

Our mother always loved the open road. In the 1950s with three, then four, small children and not much money, she would pack us in the car and head west from Indiana or Minnesota to various family homes scattered throughout California, Oregon, Washington, and Montana. Two-lane blacktop in the era before Interstate highways and no air conditioning. Our father would stay and work, taking the bus to Montana to meet us at his parents’ homestead ...
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Standing in Stardust

Until last Monday, my mother was living in Nanaimo, BC in a nice apartment in an independent senior housing community. She had moved there in May 2013 from her townhouse in Ladysmith and from her church in Chemainus… both small towns about 35 kilometers south on Vancouver Island. Though her impetus was to “take in more city culture,” the past three years have been a spiral into diminishing capacities: increasing short-term memory loss, decreasing mobility, ...
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Candlemas

February 2 is halfway between the December solstice and the March equinox. It is a time in the northern hemisphere when day length has jumped from 8 hours from sunrise to sunset to 9 ¾ hours. The light is returning and the plants are showing it here in western Washington. The garlic is up. Tulips are peaking through the soil. Heather is starting to bloom. And it is time to prune the raspberry canes! In ...
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Everything Requires Tending

Everything requires tending  When I look out the picture window with my morning cup of tea, one of my great enjoyments is watching the birds come in for their morning seeds or suet. Rain or shine, frost or fog, they eagerly arrive from their mysterious nightly roosts. I marvel at the urgency of their feeding and feel happy that I can contribute to their well-being. However, a couple of weeks ago an article in our ...
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Balance

The month between American Thanksgiving and the year-end sacred holidays is full, full, full. Pageants, concerts, holiday parties, shopping specials, family gatherings. There is no end of opportunities to keep externally engaged. It is a time to reweave communities and families. It is a time of a lot of fun and good-heartedness. And it is also an important time for quiet tending to one’s life. Taking my cue from nature in the northern hemisphere, I ...
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Tending Our Trees

Over the weekend the Pacific Northwest mountain snows began, heavy lowland rains returned, and the winds howled through the trees with winter strength. For the first time in years, the wind did not make me nervous. Huge, wonderful conifer trees that not infrequently shed large branches in the first winds of the season back our house. This shedding is a natural occurrence: a way that trees prune themselves. We are accustomed to driving down the ...
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The Impossible Has Happened

Today, Sept. 28, 2015, Shell Oil announced that they have sealed and abandoned their exploratory well in the Arctic’s Chukchi Sea siting “insufficient amounts of oil and gas to warrant further exploration.” Even though they drilled to 6800 feet, they found very little oil or gas. Despite investing billions of dollars in this endeavor, they will “cease further exploration activity in offshore Alaska for the foreseeable future.” Wow, I am thrilled beyond words! Our passionate ...
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Welcoming the stranger

In 1952, when I was six years old, my parents scrambled together a down payment on a chicken coop. that’s what we called the strung together shed-like building on half an acre in the flood plain of the Wabash River at the edge of Indianapolis. Linoleum floors, drafty fireplace in a small living room, funky kitchen, big yard, a few climbable trees. My parents put in a garden, bought real chickens for eggs and meat, ...
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Camping out & in

Every year on the last week of August, we head off with a couple of friends, our dog and their dog, and go camping. Usually we cross to the mainland and into the Cascade Mountains. This year wildfires and smoke veered us west to the Olympic Peninsula where we skirted the edges of the National Park and camped along the north shore of the state, gazing across the Strait to Vancouver Island, Canada. Soft, end ...
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Every Action Matters

In my May 25 blog I shared what it was like to participate in the kayak protest of the Shell drilling rig in the Seattle harbor. My mother seemed interested, but she is not on the internet so I mailed her a hard copy. We talked about the protest and Shell’s plans to drill in the Arctic several times after that on the phone. Weeks passed with no conversation about protests, then all of a ...
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The Twins

The doe and her two twin fawns are regular visitors in our yard this summer. The other day I had returned from kayaking and left the kayak in the back yard to dry off—not its usual resting place. Ten minutes later I had changed clothes and gone into our office in the backyard to complete some work. Within minutes the two fawns came out of the shrubbery behind the kayak and literally stopped in their ...
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