Speaking Tips

Have something to say.
I notice my dogs don’t say much until they need something. Then they do everything they can to get my attention.IMG_9647IMG_9683


Have an ear. Use it. Listen. You’ll know what to say next – i.e., how to respond.

Not good to be thinking about what you want to say next.
No. Bad.

DSC00034Tell the truth. Show up. Don’t leave without permission. Wag your tail.

Once Upon A Time

In the stories about life for kids there is a confusing array of choices for good outcomes.
If I was a deer or an otter, my life as I knew it was over and I would have to be strong on my own.
As a girl, I could depend on someone rescuing me. Even if I was rich and then poor, I would be taken care of. Even if I seemed trapped, someone would give me the answer to a secret – sounds like “life’s persistent problems” as told by my good friend Guy Noir!
Personally I was always afraid I wasn’t going to figure it out. Whatever “it” was.
These many years later I have learned to give my heart and sometimes receive. I’ve been through mountains of too little too late too close too far. I saw a sign today, I think it was an ad for a McDonald’s sandwich, it said, “sized for satisfaction.” Honestly, I thought those messages were supposed to be subliminal, not outright description! But it reminded me of the fairy tales, the princess and the prince and all that. It reminded me that we are educated to look outside for love and forget that it’s an inside job.
I give my heart doesn’t mean I loose it or myself. Though I might for a bit.
I’ve been painting hearts. I love painting hearts. Each one is a gift for me and for you. Each one is to you and to me and each one takes my heart’s colors to my hand and back again.


This bull was a bit scary for a lot of people who saw him. I can only guess about why, but I know when the man who bought him saw Red Bull he immediately identified with him. He saw the bull as his best part, his true nature and he was proud of it. I immediately liked him. Not just because he wanted the painting, because he was not afraid of himself. It made him gentle to me. I don’t know how it made anyone else feel, or his wife, I was told he wanted the painting over the bed. I thought it was a great choice for him!

Of course there is a time to show your Red Bull and there is a time to stable him. We all have a Red Bull I believe. We don’t all have access to him. And when he’s in the barn and we don’t go near the barn, don’t tend the stable, keep the doors intact, the hinges working, well, there can be an explosion.

There’s no sight I love more than a contented bull in a field of hay and grass. Yes, I’m keeping the metaphor going – I’ve been known to exhaust them! There is no room for trickle down. Our frustration and anger, when explored, can be a mighty friend. The kind you call on when you need someone really strong – where I’m from in Boston, we call on the “boys from Sommerville.” In my home growing up on the Missouri it was the guys from Black Jack – and yes, it really was named Black Jack.

I nurture that part of myself. That’s where Red Bull came from after all.



I went a long way to get this shot. A few miles, yes, some equipment, film in canisters to avoid the airport x-rays. But really what I’m talking about is how I grew into this shot. I travelled a long way in faith to take what I see and believe in it enough to let it be. To let it stand by itself.

The other part is my muse, Paula, who allowed and asked to be in my viewfinder, on my emulsion, in my life. We are together in that. This is not solo travel.

She loves to put herself out there in rocky territory. I do too. What you can’t see is where I’m lying! There is a lot of washed up detritus on this our favorite beach on the windward side of the island. We love the raggedness of it, the unexpected objects, the harshness we can encounter before we go get some wonderful French delight. This is St. Barts, the rugged, no crop, no slaves  island peopled now by wash-ups and French settlers – the originals were the Caribe Indians of whom nobody has anything good to say, but who are not here to defend themselves.

This is part of our work together. I get to see it everyday, get to revisit us and the mindsets who created our visions. We get to look at photographs, dances on video, paintings to  explore the mysteries of our minds and hearts. We are lucky beyond imagination and we have our imaginations to thank for all this. We travel. We love the Journey.


We surround ourselves with beauty. We took a house and land that was empty, weeds  chest high, unloved for a few years and made it a home. People stopped by to thank us. They told us what a great job, how beautiful, how glad they were to see care and love added back to the house. We planted trees, built stone walls, local stones for pathways to the house. Each tree planted for grace, for protection and privacy. The house was standing alone and we put a garage with my studio and an apartment for our wonderful friend Barb who we lured from the Vineyard.

What can I say – you get the picture, we made it nice. We love it.

Now it’s on the market – as they say – for all sorts of reasons. People tramping in it. Speculating, so far no hearts beat faster the way ours did. The last bunch this weekend. They say it’s this and that, worth this amount in their eyes, no more. Too whatever, not enough what. I am crestfallen to hear all the words – I just had to check my e-mail on my stupidphone while I am elsewhere. I continue home, walk in the door – this brave magic – and on the kitchen table I find a note in my youngest daughter’s handwriting,

“Take one step at a time

there’s no need to rush

It’s like learning to fly

or falling in love

It’s gonna happen when

It’s supposed to happen . . .”

Yes, like love.

Careful of the How

How do we engage ourselves, know who we are, what we want to do, be, when we grow up or any other time? When I was young I thought of my life as an out-of-body experience. In the world of Meyers-Briggs (did you know they’re WOMEN? – I didn’t until recently – I assumed that only men could make those formulas) I am an INFP and very into the “F.” So all that hiding in plain sight I did in my birth family was mirrored – think Narcissus – by my roots of shame. I may have looked like a tree – or a stump according to my parents – but all I see now is how powerful the law of attraction is. If gravity holds us in our seats, the law of attraction gets us what we ask for. I was the kid my parents asked for, maybe you were too.
It takes years of courage to know who we are and what to do about it. Often others know who we are way before we do but are at a loss for what to do about it. In 1990 I was deep into photographic processes. Hours in the darkroom mixing paper, chemicals and film finally produced what I found to be an excitingly deep and surprising outcome.

I became enamored of the process, got some proficiency and got a body of work together which I took around to photography galleries. One said,”It’s too beautiful, I’ll never sell it.” Another, “It’s too processed.” Women loved it. Men didn’t.

So it’s like a Buddhist story I tell about a farmer whose son is everything to him. The son goes to war, the son dies, the farmer is nothing. The son comes back, the farmer has everything. Ilusions. The farmer has an illusion. When I discovered the process I thought I was so cool, I thought, “this is who I am.” No one was doing anything like it. Great. Then when it didn’t shake the world, I felt like a fool, a shit, not an artist, not worthy.
It’s taken years just to love it again. Without the need for it to go anywhere. – Oh, I should say that it did win a spot at the Corcoran Gallery in the Smithsonian. And I thought that was so cool. I thought it would go on from there. I thought, I thought. But it didn’t and I still love the work and I still love the process and I think I’m cool.


It’s Saturday and markets all over the state, all over the country are filled with farmers and those of us wanting to have great food and be better to ourselves.

How can we be better to ourselves than to buy what’s grown and raised around us. How better to take care of what’s ours? If you think about it, it’s weird to buy things from other countries to save money. It’s weird to leave home and only buy from places we’ve never seen and from people we’ll never see.

But today, Saturday, a coolish, overcast day in August, we’re shopping local. We’re seeing our friends, talking, sampling and the best of all – everyone is smiling.

This is a good day, how can I serve you?

Have you ever thought about the difference between caring for and serving? Well, in my experience, if I care for you, I don’t get much – respect, money, or acknowledgment. But if I serve you, I give you something of value and I get more for it. Including your looking me in the face.

You don’t get as much either if I take care of you, I may be a faceless servant doing a job. If I serve you, you probably asked for it; went to a site, signed up. Went to a school, filled out a form, maybe even paid money.

I take care of many beings. I have rescued dogs, cats and horses. If I see an animal on the road, I help it. And while I am not a nameless, faceless entity to them while I am cleaning litter, picking poops, mopping up grass and throw-up, I am not using much of my skill set either. In my service of the animals I am fulfilling my need to be useful – of service. It comes from my heart and that makes a valuable contribution to my idea of how I want to be in the world and how I view myself.

By doing this service I am forwarding my sense of good in the world, I am participating in a higher vibration than just myself. It is not a job.

If I have a job, when I go to it, when I participate in living and working amongst/with other people, I feel a brightness, I come to them with a full complement of participation. I am not needy.

If people are nice to me – or not – I have a sense of myself within myself and the world within myself. I have done important (to me) work and what I receive from the world is the icing, I have eaten my cake and I don’t have to choose whether to eat it or have it.

Branding – your message is your name.

Not your business name but the name people think of when they read your statement, your copy, your bio, your blog. The name they give you in their mind (nice person, want to know them – that kind of thing) the minute they see something you’ve put out into the world. Is it the logo you chose, the background of your Tweeter page? Is it the way you presented your ideas in Squidoo? Did you talk about yourself, what you like, trust, want and stop there? Did you include thoughts and facts about yourself in addition to trying on the needs and wants of others?

For me it’s the personable way you might explore yourself to me. A misspelling won’t turn me off too much but if there are too many txt’s and lites, I’m gone. I love dashes and I personally use too many parentheses – which I hope won’t be a problem for you, I know a little cuteness goes a long way! How you expose your life without too much information but enough to help me know I can trust (or not) your ideas, what thoughts come to you, how much we might share.

This last is crucial. What might we share? It’s a key in the deciding route we all take on the road to purchase. We are all looking for the Something that will make our next – career, baby quiet, dog lie down, smell go away, best cup of – there are no exceptions, we are going to contact someone for an issue we are dealing with. That Someone is going to fill our needs and make us feel good at the same time.

I’m a poet in one of my lives and when I send poems out for consideration I hope I have done my homework and looked at the magazine before I send and I hope the editor will actually look at my work before it’s sent back in the envelope provided. I was an editor once and I noticed that I wanted as much from the poet as they wanted from me. I had a problem to solve, an itch to scratch and I hoped that every piece of writing coming to my desk would be the one I’d be excited to read and want to publish.

There are no exceptions to this dance. We are all in the market for something. We all want to pay for some things and get some things free. We don’t want to pay for everything and we don’t want everything free.

This is a great time to be a small business in a big world. We are all looking for the niche where we will find comfort. The best places in my kids’ schools were the reading nooks where they could curl up and read or just look at books. They could be surrounded by comfort and get some cool information or a great story. Let your business be a nook, it’ll be on everyone’s list of things to do.

I love Seth Godin

I just got a new blog from Seth Godin. I love Seth Godin. There isn’t anything he says that’s not worth listening to, looking at, and really taking in. Every one is a “head’s up!”

This one was about College graduates. They are not finding jobs. According to Seth, only 20% are being hired. He spelled out a plan for the other 80%.

This is directly from him – and it’s worth repeating:

“How about a post-graduate year doing some combination of the following (not just one, how about all):
Spend twenty hours a week running a project for a non-profit.
Teach yourself Java, HTML, Flash, PHP and SQL. Not a little, but mastery.
Volunteer to coach or assistant coach a kids sports team.
Start, run and grow an online community.
Give a speech a week to local organizations.
Write a regular newsletter or blog about an industry you care about.
Learn a foreign language fluently.
Write three detailed business plans for projects in the industry you care about.
Self-publish a book.
Run a marathon.”

Seth Godin June 9, 2009

Does that sound like “make a Self to believe in?” It does to me. You know there was a time when that kind of learning was a part of growing up. Maybe you were fortunate and had a playroom. Maybe you and your friends and/or siblings made up plays, did projects, made costumes. A child’s world was full of challenges in groups with objects they made or made believe.

Maybe your opportunities didn’t include something so structured but maybe you didn’t know that it was so important. Whether your parents had money or not I bet you found it paid to be inventive, to put yourself out and you found out at least a little bit of who you are by bouncing around in a group not just awash in your daydreams or one on one games.

More than likely your parents participated, they watched you, clapped, gave you pointers. Maybe you hated it, maybe you loved the chance to be in front of your peers and your leaders. It almost doesn’t matter because no matter what, you were getting something out of it. I bet the put downs you may have felt look less harsh now than they did then. I bet if you had some of these experiences time has worn off the edges and what you’ve gotten into since has made them look smaller.

My teenagers are heavy with the weight of their studies, their friends, their social networks. They think this is the heavy time in their lives. They are sure they have more eyes on them, more commitments, more drama and tragedy than they ever will again. They feel experienced and unsettled yet they expect a steadiness to their lives that what they rail against most gives them. They feel the hang of their safety net but not the support of it.

And, as Walter Cronkhite used to say, “and that’s they way it is.” And ever was and no doubt ever will be. But that doesn’t absolve us as parents, as leaders, as friends and mentors of our responsibilities to show them how we feel, who we are and what is important to us and to the world we inhabit.

We need to look at that list, get a head’s up, see what we see, who we are, what is important to us and what do we want to do about it. Then let’s all of us take some of those tasks to heart. Do them well. Because if college graduates are not getting jobs, if they are at loose ends, they need us now more than ever.