Monthly Archives: July 2012

I Is for Idea


An IDEA is what lurks behind this blog (or any piece of writing)—urging the words forward.

So, writing about “idea”—when the idea of doing so was ITSELF an “idea”—well it’s kind of like the proverbial snake with its own tail in its mouth. (Or the Escher drawing of a hand drawing itself … )

What’s wrong with that? Some of the best thinking is “circular thinking,” according to my BlogHer friend Melanie motherofnine9.

In fact, we have been sending each other quotes and thoughts about the very feminine experience of (kind-of) ending up where we began … but being different for having circled around an idea and made it our “own.”*

My “idea” here is to try to catch a glimpse of that little flame that powers the Bunsen burner of a finished piece, an article, a letter or blog, maybe even an act—the elusive “idea.”

The dictionary is not much help: “A thought or conception that potentially or actually exists in the mind as a product of mental activity. 2. An opinion, conviction, or principle … ”

I like the flame symbol better, the shape on a sign at our local utility company that makes it look like a happy little blue person with a pointed head who keeps our gas lines generously flowing.

Ideas are essential. We owe a lot to the ideas in our lives: they power our actions such as getting up in the morning and keeping to our work and routines—because the idea of not soldiering on, the other side of the quotidian coin—might have the face of “chaos.”

So, I think it’s worth paying attention to ideas—tracing our actions back to what got us started in a certain direction in the first place. It’s kind of like trying to solve a mystery along with a detective—a detective being what Ellery Queen called “a prophet in reverse.”

We’re mostly thinkers in reverse, acting and reacting in the moment as we have to. But by squinting to see the tracings underneath the finished drawings of our lives, we may encounter ideas that glow and can be useful to us again, because now we’re conscious—that wonderful word that signifies some progress has been made!

There is no “National Idea Day,” but if there were, I’d find a flag with a glowing lightbulb or a flame emblazened on it and celebrate!


*Melanie and I both love Emily Dickinson’s “Tell all the Truth/but tell it slant—/Success in Circuit lies./Too bright for our infirm Delight/the Truth’s superb surprise…” A circuit is of course a circle.

Kandinsky wrote that the circle is “the most modest form, but asserts itself unconditionally.” It is “simultaneously stable and unstable,” “loud and soft,” “a single tension that carries countless tensions within it.” … a link to the spiritual plane.

“Every woman has her own little circle, and in it can use her influence for good, if she will.”  —From Louisa May Alcott’s novel Rose in Bloom.


H Is for Heart


As difficult as it is to define what having a Heart MEANS—it is fairly easy to discern when someone is missing one. “Heart” as a metaphor has come to stand for all that is most human and flexible in us, with natural potential to connect instantly with other “people of Heart.”

As Mark Twain said, “When you fish for love, bait with your heart, not your brain.” But we also need our brains—to sort out issues, and to contemplate.

I have blogged in this series previously on: A Is for Attitude; B Is for Balance; C Is for Create; D Is for Dialogue; E Is for Eye; F Is for Flight and G Is for Good … !

So now it seems right to go straight to the Heart—for a short meditation on what has the potential to change our world for good.

The Dalai Lama has said it so simply and profoundly: “It is very important to generate a good attitude, a good Heart, as much as possible. From this, happiness in both the short term and the long term for both yourself and others will come.” (As naturally “as leaves to a tree”—as Keats famously said that poetry ought to come—if it is to come at all.)

BUT of course, loving others is never that simple. When someone affronts us, often we can feel a tightening in the chest, the need to put on armor and shield our Heart against further hurt. Perhaps even to attack back. Even a “good” Heart has its seasons, its vulnerabilities, its gaps through which the arrows of hate can slide.

Aristotle considered the Heart “the hottest bodily part”—unlike the “cold” brain. Most women seem to understand this. In fact, my Heart is most usually activated by the sight or story of someone else in trouble, burdened, or being abused and dumped on. Like a small animal recognizing its “kind,” my Heart responds in sympathy with a sort of electric zing—an immediacy that the brain can only envy and struggle to find reasons to support.

Jesus said that “where your treasure is, there your Heart will be also.” And it’s fairly easy to ask ourselves what is central and most valuable to us—tracking it, to find our Heart also lurking there. Such discovery might even give us a shock, and lead us to get our brain engaged—to try to shift the center of power to a more beneficial spot.

But here the ability to give advice about the Heart breaks down, since, besides being warm and pliable—the Heart is also the most personal center of who we are and what matters to us. It defines for us whom we love and what we most want out of life.

No one else (not even a lover) knows your Heart as you do.

Can we learn to cultivate the Heart like a garden, keeping it supple and fruitful and connected to others in unbroken ways? The Sufi mystics even today are sometimes referred to as people of “Heart,” and spiritual vision to them is seen as “the Heart’s eye.”

Poet Rainer Maria Rilke wrote in “Turning Point”: “Work of the eyes is done, now go and do Heart work on all the images captive within you.”

Garden … soul’s eye … fountain … small animal … circle … flame … conscience … core …

What images of Heart speak to you and challenge you to find and claim your own treasure?

Stretching the Ribbon



Thank you, Melanie motherofnine9


Anita Finlay

for sharing the Fabulous Blog Ribbon award with me!

I agree to:

1. Thank the blogger who gave it to me and share the link back to her awarding blog.  [See above.]

2. Name five fabulous moments in my life.

3. Name five things that I love.

4. Name five things that I hate.

5. Pass the award on to five deserving bloggers.

Five fabulous moments:

My husband saying his wedding vows to me.

Both my children’s births.

Moving in to our renovated vintage cottage six years ago.

Getting my first book contract.

Getting my most recent book contract!

Five things I love:

My husband and children.

Everafter Cottage.

My day job as a Managing Editor, which still challenges me and keeps me growing.

Getting to write books on the side.  And having time to read!

Our community of friends at St. Mary’s.

Five things I hate:

Fleas!  When a beloved pet is gone and the fleas are looking for a home and jump on us!

Thunder when I’m working on the computer and have to turn it off.

Black ice (invisible) on the road, a twisty mountain two-laner necessary to get us down the mountain.

When I lose email messages and don’t realize it and someone is trying to reach me (which has happened too often lately).

When my husband forgets his cell phone and I can’t reach him on the road!

Five deserving bloggers to whom I pass on this award:

AND [Honorary]

PLUS five more honored bloggers:

You are all so deserving!