Monday, December 26, 2016

Living Out Loud

It's the day after Christmas. Sometime during last night, I was awaken from my post-Christmas stupor by thunder and lightening. That's not normal for Northern Michigan in late December. Now, during midday, the temperature is surpassing 50 degrees. We were just far enough into winter that the dog and I were adjusting to the silence.

I live in the woods, you see. So when winter throws its white blanket upon us, there's a soft sigh as the noise lessens, and lessens, and lessens. Like dropping a bouncing ball, winter noise becomes a high-pitched ping, a softer boing, a few little bouncing rattles and then settles into silence. And that's it until sometime in March.

Now the dog can't shut up. Only a month ago, what sounds like racket to her now, were just normal wood noises and did not warrant barking. Now she's protecting me from every twitter, chirp, chatter, drip and rattle. Dried leaves and branches brushing against almost bare trees on this windy day sends her into courageous lunges at nothing. "It's not normal!" she insists as she adds to the cacophony.

As her barks echo off the high banks on the other side of the creek, the birds and squirrels and deer could care less. They are claiming the ability to do more than just seek food. Oh, they're eating for sure. But the woods around my home is more like a noisy diner than an intimate restaurant. They're sliding out of their quiet booths and coming together on stools at the counter.

Winter will be back soon. There are promises of cold and snow on the way. High winds and whiteouts are just west of me and heading east I hear. We'll see. Right now, it does not even seem possible as I step out into this temperate weather.

But we in Northern Michigan know better than to expect any kind of weather to last. So for now, we're all living out loud.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Appreciating Apricity

This has been the most amazing winter. Cold. Bone-chilling cold at times. Snow to depths I have not seen in years. It has taken me quite some time to get his article completed. We've had so very little of that which I am writing about. And without the sun, I can't seem to find my inspiration. And you don't need to hear me whine.

I'm looking forward to Spring, which will happen soon enough. In the meantime, I'm apricating as often as the sun allows. Cheers!

Appreciating Apricity

"I'll give you a winter prediction: It's gonna be cold, it's gonna be grey, and it's gonna last you for the rest of your life." ~Phil Connors from the movie Groundhog Day.

Apricity. I loved the word before I totally understood its meaning. It's a short word with a lot of melody and could easily be sung on those days apricity inspires us. As a child my favorite words were "insulated underwear" because I could sing those two words in multiple ways. Like insulated underwear, apricity deserves to be sung; most especially, this time of year as the sun starts to peek above the treetops around my home if even for just a few minutes.

Apricity means "the warmth of the sun in winter," which is a rather simple definition. Yet there is a depth to that definition that other words cannot boast. Apricity conjures up feelings long forgotten until this very time of year. Beyond the intellectual understanding of the word, your senses must be engaged to fully appreciate apricity. You don't know apricity until you feel the cold on your face from subzero winter temperatures and, at the same time, the unbelievably incredible warmth of the sun on that same face. Apricity demands that you cannot feel one without the other.

For me, there's also a smell to apricity. One minute I'm inhaling deeply the smell of bitter cold winter, which is almost no smell at all but nonetheless distinct. Those of us who live in winter and snow and cold, know that smell. And in that very same moment, the sun beating down on an oak tree that has not yet lost its leaves or a dead log or an early patch of dirt, sends to me a whiff of warming leaves, wood and dirt. This too is the contradiction of apricity.

Now before you tell me that you personally appreciate apricity on a beach in Florida in February, for instance, I counter that winter is as much a condition as it is a season. Apricating means you must experience the contradiction of cold and warm at the same time much more than simply experiencing the warmth of the sun in a warm climate during a winter month. Apricity cannot exist in its fullest sense while lying on the beach in January. Unless, of course that shoreline is on a frozen northern lake. Apricity is earned.

Peace and Love

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Sands of Time (Revisited)

2103 has been a challenging year. Most of my challenges have been typical of those things we all go through on occasion but have more impact when they pile up all at once. You know what I'm talking about, I'm sure. House, vehicle, and relationships can all go wacky for us once in awhile. When your house, car and friends all seem to need you at once, it can be a bit overwhelming. I won't bore you with it all. But the most significant event this summer was the death of my Mom. That alone made all the other crap this year insignificant. I miss her and will for the rest of my life.

The Sands of Time
In Memory of Jean Brenda Hill Martin
December 6, 1918 - June 8, 2013

"Time is like a handful of sand - the tighter your grasp it, the faster it runs through your fingers." ~Henry David Thoreau.

These days, there is not much space outside of the time I spend with my mother. So I have found that what I am compelled to write about becomes an extension of my conversations and reflections with Mom. The two of us are spending a lot of time looking back. That's where she's most comfortable. The further back we go, the better her memory. Ask her about an event or person in her childhood and you'll get minute details. Ask her what she had for lunch the minute she finished the last morsel, and you get a shrug.

Mom grew up on the Atlantic Ocean in Winthrop, just outside of Boston, Massachusetts. Her summers were spent with family on Cape Cod. Her only move was to Michigan and the shores of a much smaller body of water but still huge in its own right, Lake Michigan. This is where Mom has spent the last 72 years of her life and where I grew up.

The other day we talked about spending so much of one's life on or near a beach. There are many wonderful and interesting things about beach life. Watching wildlife, digging clams and flying kites have been some of our favorites. But in our conversation, Mom seemed to want to focus on sand. We agreed that our beach days will always be part of us and will forever most be defined by sand. Oh, such a tiny thing for such a long life!

We concluded that our hair, toes, belly buttons and many other unmentionable crevices will always contain at least a few grains of sand. A total cleaning is not possible. We'll both die with sand in some crack. Likewise, we'll forever have sand in our beds.

We are still astounded at how possessions can get lost for a long, long time as the sand shifts and inches forward and backward with the wind and the waves. And often, with that same shifting, the treasures are unearthed and things long lost return.

We agreed that sleeping on the sand makes the best nap. Long after the day has cooled, that patch of sand is still quite warm having absorbed the sun all day. Warm sand, properly piled and molded, will allow for rest so deep you'll drool in your sleep and wake with sand plastered to the side of your face.

We sighed as we remembered the experience of standing at the water's edge and wiggling our feet in the sand. Better than any foot massage we've ever had, our feet emerge baby fresh and buffed.

I serve up this reflection about sand as an opportunity for you to remember the environment that forever defines you and your relationships. Search for that place in your own life journey. Your eternity is as simple as a grain of sand.

"To see the world in a grain of sand
And Heaven in a wild flower
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."
Auguries of Innocence ~William Blake

"They dined on mince and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon."
~Edward Lear

Peace and Love, Deb

Friday, January 25, 2013

Hello Sunshine

Now that the Winter Solstice is behind us here in the north, we are moving toward the sun once again. Already I have noticed the difference. Daylight hangs around just a little longer. I have the urge to get out of bed a little earlier in the morning. And I more often see sunshine during the day. The overcast dreary days of December have dissolved into some occasional bright light in January. Just what is that globe hanging in the southern sky that makes me squint on my walks?

I welcome January. This year I celebrate my 60th trip around the sun. “Not a big deal” I say to myself on some days. On other days it feels shocking. Just how did I make it to 60 when so many of those I idolized have not? Not that 60 is old. It isn't. But I'm a Boomer and some of us lived hard.

Most days, I don’t feel a day over 40 until I look in the mirror. So I just don’t look. Or at least I look without my glasses on, for those glasses too have become a more permanent fixture on my face. For some reason, others' photos of me are often more flattering than what I see each morning when I roll out for another day. I look at those photos and wonder how the photographer did that. Smoke and mirrors? Why can’t my mirror reflect that? So I choose to believe the photos others take of me must be the way I look through their eyes. That gives me just a little of the joy that often comes when we delude ourselves and become the figments of our imaginations.

I've noticed a shift in the way I talk about myself these days. I have pretty much dropped all titles and labels and credentials. My education matters less now than it did a few years ago. I expect that importance to decline even more. When people ask me what I do, I often can’t find the words to even describe what that is. At any particular time I may call myself a retreat leader or a coach or a guide or just one who likes to reflect and ponder. Sometimes I’m a writer, a player, a fisherwoman and an explorer. I've worn all these titles in the past but they used to be capitalized. Now they are barely more than a word to me. I'm enjoying using whole paragraphs instead of a few titles to express who I am and why I do what I do.

Still though, I remain someone who loves to grab people by the sleeve and take them into nature and discovery. I find myself acting on that urge often when I’m talking with someone I know will be awed by what nature and just a little risk has to offer. “Let’s go,” I say. “Come with me. I have something to show you. By the way, bring your hip boots!” And then I take them. And then I do some coaching. And then I know I’m right where I’m supposed to be.

So there are parts of us that remain who we are and what we love, whether it’s a business endeavor or not, no matter our age. At my core, I'm someone who wants to take you on an adventure, internal or external. I’m glad to be hanging my Tilly and my bandana on that until I discover what’s next for me.

Hello, sunshine. Now sit. And tell me a story. What's next for you?

Peace and Love  

"Don't compromise yourself. You are all you've got." Janis Joplin

Friday, December 21, 2012


It’s December 21st. Here in the north, the sun rises late and sets early. Water temperatures have plummeted but not yet frozen solid. The creek flowing below me gives more indication of what the day will bring than anything I can see by looking up. I am no longer able to see the sun because it does not rise above my tree tops this time of year. Today there is a pile of new snow around my home. The wind is briskly whipping, making it difficult to see out the snow-covered windows. Gladly, the woodpile has grown to a decent size. The splitting maul has been retired and this winter white is welcomed to stay. The smell of wood smoke reminds me that I can now rest. Even while the local news reports this “threatening,” “dangerous,” and “perilous” winter storm, this is how I experience peace, in nature.  

Finding peace within ourselves contributes to peace within a community, within a country, within the world. Finding peace within ourselves and sharing that sense of peace with our neighbors starts with identifying our own fears. What are you afraid of? Who have you been listening to or reading that has fed your fear? As you allow your fear to thrive, you inject yourself and those in your life with anger, resentment, dread and panic. And these are passed on. 

Give the gift of peace and goodwill this holiday season by addressing your own fears. Perhaps you need to understand that fear is about a future event that may not even happen. Maybe you want to face that which you fear and understand it has no control over you. Possibly you will spend more time in nature and understand that it is the source of all Peace, no matter what is swirling around outside your window or inside your head. Perhaps you just want to release your fear without needing to understand its dynamics, simply trusting and letting your anger dissolve. And just maybe, for awhile, you will turn off the TV and the radio. 

Whatever way you choose to ease your fears, know that you are gifting the world. Without our fears peace has a chance.  

Peace and Love Deb  

“When you find peace within yourself, you become the kind of person who can live at peace with others.” ~Peace Pilgrim