Tuesday, March 10

back to the beginning

sunrise from Morningside cottage
7 september 2014

All lake photos on this post date back to the last time I had started writing to you but got interrupted which would be right after September Squam.

Um, you know-- six months ago.

There were also a bunch of words but I deleted all that. They were old and if I have any kind of credo for blogging (full disclosure: I have no credo for blogging) I can only share what is of the day, of the moment, of the hour.


Blogging is, for me, truly online journaling. I sit down at the laptop and type.

Live streaming, as it were.

photo:  Forrest Elliott

Today is a Tuesday. Late morning. Dogs and I got up at 5 am as per usual. Went across the street in the dark to let them investigate diminishing snow banks. Came in to hot coffee topped with foamy almond milk and sprinkled with cinnamon. They eat their breakfast like animals, no savoring, no slow paced conversation to punctuate mouthfuls. Water slurped noisily they come and curl in around me.

We sit. Me in the white chair, cross-legged. Candles lit, a thread of white sage smoke curls up to the ceiling. Later, I take them to the woods where we walk through the perfect stillness of snow and early morning light.

Right now? I am sitting upstairs in my new living space that has also become Squam HQ once again.



photos: Forrest Elliott

That sentence alone has about six months of stories laced through it, but I can't go backwards today. If I am going to climb into the saddle here I must move forward. And so here's what I scribbled in my journal a few hours ago:


 if I ever got a tattoo it would be of cabbages
the touchstone reminder  alike in success + failure
curious only to witness the flow of life.
work for the beauty of the action alone
no concern for the outcome


Any of you who know me well, know that the odds of me ever getting a tattoo are exactly zero. Just not something I would ever do-- but I am not immune to the ritual of what doing something like that can offer-- a chance to stop, review, mark a time of transition, or stake a claim on some kind of life code that helps to keep us rooted in our core truth.

Cabbages are that symbol for me.  The source is from an essay by Montaigne that I read as a sophomore in college. It hooked me then and has never left me as my touchstone philosophy. I'm too lazy to go find the passage and type it out here for you (plus I don't think I like the English translation, anyway) so I'll just give you my interpretation of what he wrote.


 When Death comes for me, let it find me in my garden
planting cabbages. Equally indifferent to death
and, to the fate of my cabbages.


What this means for me is I am home. Home, in my self. The ego is no longer the wild child careening around the house, out of control and leaving wreckage in its wake. Or, from a more yogic perspective, there is no longer a searching "out there" for my happiness. Not gonna feel better by eating cake, having a cocktail, buying the perfect shoes/lipstick/t-shirt, etc. 

Whatever "it" is that I think will give me love/bliss/comfort I have crossed over a threshold to a space where I know better.

I no longer clutch at people for support
I no longer cling to pleasure
I no longer depend on appreciation
I am satisfied in and by my self alone.


And so I plant cabbages, you know - metaphorically.

I live my life. I create as much physical beauty around me as I can. My radio channel is set to kindness. My day, my routines are as simple as possible. When I engage in creative projects the intention is clear: I do it for the process, the joy of the doing. All attachment to the outcome is down the street somewhere chatting it up with the neighbors -- nowhere in my space.

Sometimes the project succeeds, sometimes the project fails, always I am ready to meet Death with a smile, satisfied that in this day, in this moment, I was awake.

Alive. Fully conscious of the magic of this dream. Ever ever ever drenched in gratitude.


bisous, e

p.s. from my old friend Emerson:

Finish each day and be done with it.
You have done what you could.
Some blunders and absurdities have crept in:
forget them as soon as you can
Tomorrow is a new day
you shall begin it serenely with too
high a spirit to be encumbered
by your old nonsense

32 comments:

  1. So glad for you that you're all cozy and settled into your new place! You and the pups look very happy :)

    "I am satisfied in and by my self alone." This is SO powerful. I hope I get there one day. I'm definitely further along the path than I was in my 20s, and I hope I'll be further along in my 40s than I am now. Maybe it's part of the wisdom that comes with more time spent on this planet. Maybe we just get more comfortable in ourselves as we age. Either way, here's to more of that!

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    1. definitely part of the wisdom that comes with more time spent on this planet but I sure hope it finds you soonest!! Sending BIG love!!xooxoxox

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  2. This feels very peaceful. And I love, love, love your new home! Which I was still on the east coast and could come and visit you. And I will never look at a cabbage now without thinking of you! :) xo

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    1. ha ha! I know right? CABBAGES! I would love a visit from your Kerstin any time. oxoxox, e

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  3. Hmm, so much goodness here. Thank you for sharing your journey, your heart, your soul with all of us here. xoxox. I adore you.

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    1. I adore YOU, Jennifer-- sweet shining soul that you are! xoxooxoxo,e

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  4. I rarely comment, but I still read you voraciously. And that PS? Thank you, I needed that today.

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    1. for YOU<<--!!? Always! so glad it hit the spot-- I know that feeling--- soooo good. :)

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  5. This is so beautiful. I can feel the contentment from here and it soothes me. I also want to plant cabbages...

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    1. ha ha! I wonder how hard that would be? I bet they are a good plant to grow, don't you think? BIG LOVE Cassia-- xoox, e

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  6. You are so...I can't find the right word! Awesome is overused. Challenging? No. That doesn't have the right connotation. Something that means both of those together. And beautiful, but in a psycho-social way (physically too, but you know what I mean). If I were a former president, I would make up a word, but alas, I am not. I feel like you wrote this post just for me, but I am not so narcissistic to believe that. You are amazing. I am so very glad you are back. You have no idea. xoxoxoxoxo

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    1. but I DID write it just for you, Megsie :) ha!---- we are ALL connected-- that's the wild truth--- we are all one-- so so so glad it fed you after the long winter you just had. XOOX

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  7. Your photos capture so much beauty and stillness, while conveying being fully present in the magical moments that surround us daily. Thank you for sharing your beautiful words today

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    1. hi Tracey! Thank you SO much for letting me know-- your words are so kind-- I am so glad you liked it--- XOXO

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  8. Oh, these words. THESE words. Such a beautifully palpable peaceful feeling painted with these words. I am on a path to the place you describe, that place where happiness is no longer dependent on what is "out there." Mine is a slow journey, with three steps forward followed by two steps back, but all in all, progress when viewed on the whole. Then, I read these words today and am fueled to continue moving toward this place, this feeling you describe, because it exists. It indeed exists.

    Yours words in this post will be with me for days, as effervescent as they are soothing.

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    1. oh yes yes yes !!!! me too, two steps forward, one step back--- always--- you are THERE right now, Rita-- just having the awareness is the whole game. Seriously--- we just watch and notice what's going on-- getting that perspective brings the peace-- it does! XOXO

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  9. I love, love, love this post...You are glowing with the light of all you have found and brought to light in yourself- gorgeous!! Oh, and I am a fan of dogs who eat with no decorum that circle around you. Perfect!! Although I had read the lines about cabbage I 'm sure back in college too, I had forgotten them and it has made me appreciate this Irish favorite more and more. xoxo

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    1. Eileen!!!!! you always write the loveliest things-- so glad we are connected ! XOXOXOXO

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  10. Elizabeth,
    I am so happy to have stopped by today, to read what you have shared. I love the Emerson quote and will be giving it a home on my bathroom mirror. The place where important thoughts reside so I can see them before going to sleep and upon awakening. I love the encouragement to live with intention. Definitely something I need to keep me moving along rather than squandering my energy on the past.

    I read a day or so ago on the Squam blog your questioning if you had anything else left to say and I have been pondering that post. I flashed back to a time of darkness in my life where I was in the middle of moving, of upheaval, chaos and a frenetic questioning of my choices and direction. It brought to mind a statement that gave me a bit of groundedness at the time and still does. I do not know who said the statement or where it came from, but it was comforting. “There is not enough darkness in the world to put out the light of the smallest candle.” Each one of us is that small candle. It reminds me that we all have value in our words, our thoughts and our actions. That by sharing our light with others we become stronger and we help strengthen others.

    While you are familiar with your experiences and gathered knowledge, it is new to so many of us. Please continue to share your light.


    Julie Shaw

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    1. oh JULIE!!! we just exchanged quotes-- ha. omg-- I know that quote about the darkness and the smallest candle but had not thought of it for YEARS and am so so glad you just shared that with me-- utterly perfect and true and the exact supporting reminder I need to have right at the forefront always. THANK you. And thank you for taking the time to share all of that with me-- XOXOOXOXX e

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  11. Thank you for sharing your journey and moment Elizabeth, perfect word of wisdom. Xoxo Giusy

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    1. Ciao Giusy!! so love that we are STILL connected after all these years--- isn't it wild? Hope spring has reached Italy and you are feeling grounded and supported and the LOVE that is all around you always. OXOXOX, e

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  12. I just love everything about this. Maybe most especially "My radio channel is set to kindness." xo

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    1. ha ha! love that you love my bit of inspiration there--- trying to express that idea in a new way. :) thank you Liz!!!

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  13. Elizabeth, my love!
    You are home.
    Literally, figuratively, physically.
    I swear my heart did a jump in my chest when I saw the Vixen had updated in my reader.
    Beautiful friend. I shall be thinking of you whilst simmering cabbage next week for St. Patty's :)
    Muchas besos.
    xo

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  14. ha ha! yes HOME HOME HOME in all ways-- and I never even realized that! Sheesh! March = CABBAGE season! hot damn. xoxooxox

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  15. Elizabeth, my mind is being blown here. Would you say that you are awakened? Have you seen that the mind isn't real? Is that what you are saying?

    In awe and gratitude for you xx

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    1. good morning Sarah--- what a beautiful question-- alas no, I am not yet awakened. I am awake :) but I totally understand what you are referring to and I have not experienced that in the way you mean. I understand the dream within the dream and get glimpses-- but right now, I simply live with that knowledge as anything more is an act of grace and well beyond me. sending big love to you-- xooxoxo, e

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  16. And yet you bring us closer to grace in some mysterious way.

    I'm doing an embodiment meditation course online at the mo and there were recorded talks from ordinary buddhas - sparkling people going about their lives. I loved them - so supportive. They're offered free for anyone - http://prajnalivingawake.org/conversationswithprajna/

    Like these people, You are a treasure amongst us. Xxxxx

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    1. ooooh great link will definitely check it out-- and I am simply mirroring YOUR radiance and magnificence back to you!! :) what you see in me is what is within you. XOXOOXOX

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  17. Yes. I get it. I have learned through you. I really get it. This distillation of the complete sense of self.

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    1. XOXOXOXOX exacty! sending you big love--- :)

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thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with me-- I love that you stopped by and hope something I shared was what you needed today. xo, e