What's It All About?

It's all too easy for days to pass without reflection. It's my hope that through a greater active awareness on each day, that I will be able to consider God's presence in my life and in the world around me. Writing has always been a way for me to round up my thoughts. This blog seems like a good place to park those thoughts for my own benefit as well as the benefit of others. Please take a moment to read what I have written, to offer comments, and to share the ideas with others.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Bright Spots

Big Chico Creek-photo by Libby Fife
This morning as I took my walk I tried to quiet my mind. No easy task! I use a counting routine to fall into cadence with my steps and to focus. Sort of like walking meditation I guess. 

I have been working away this weekend in a fair amount of silence. It's good to be able to concentrate. As I was reflecting this afternoon I realized that all throughout my day, I look for small moments of peace, which to me, means quiet time. Space to think.  Walking, as mentioned above, is time for that. Maybe even doing chores is a good time. Certainly while working is a good time, for me anyway. The times mentioned above can be used to sort things out, or to pray, or to meditate. I am thankful for this type of time. And lucky, both in having the time and in recognizing a good way to use it. Very thankful for my "bright spots."

Friday, June 26, 2015

Mary Oliver-Quote and Photo

Mokelumne River photo by Libby Fife
“Instructions for living a life. 
Pay attention. 
Be astonished. 
Tell about it.” 
― Mary Oliver

It's nice to know that someone so esteemed and accomplished is on the same wavelength. I hope we all are or all can be.


Thursday, June 25, 2015

Consolation, Desolation and Parker Palmer

Big Chico Creek-photo by Rich Fife
I took a break from Margaret Silf's Book, Inner Compass, to read some other books. In thinking about her book, what I have read so far, I am reminded of her descriptions of "consolation and desolation." In Ignatian spirituality, these two words describe the process of either moving towards or away from God. My interpretation of that is that with each day and with each thought and act, collectively you are either moving towards becoming the person that God wants you to be or moving away from that concept. You want to be a certain type of person and it follows that because you want that, God wants that too. (Loose interpretation.) It's very easy though to get mired in desolation which is sort of a state of being in a funk. Perhaps you are missing the silver lining in things or are deeply affected by tragedy in the world. Maybe life seems to be full of trouble rather than full of grace. How do you lift yourself out of this funk on any given day? I can't say that I know but at the best of times, when I am running optimally, one small thing can turn the day around. I just have to look for that and embrace it.

I have a link here to a short piece written by Parker Palmer. Parker himself is worth checking out but if you don't have the time for that, this short piece is sure to help lift you out of any kind of funk:)

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Night and Day

Lake Alpine-Boat launch area across from resort (sort of).
What a difference a day makes! I took a drive up to Lake Alpine today to go for a hike. The weather was perfect (maybe about 80 degrees or so) and there were a fair amount of people there for a Tuesday. I ate my lunch on the shore looking out at the lake. I am happy to say that nothing bit me! On my way back I spotted these two kayakers. They each had a black dog on their boat. The man was exclaiming about a bird he saw, wondering if it was a duck. I was so happy to hear the man and woman sort of chatting back and forth, obviously enjoying things. I feel fortunate to be able to choose the types of activities that I can do and when I want to do them. I am also grateful for being physically fit enough to take this hike. It was 4.2 miles up and down some slopes and over some rocks. Just happy to keep going!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Happy Monday!

I stepped outside this morning to take a pic of the hillside beyond our backyard. The highway is to the left of the shot, farther back. We are so fortunate to live where we do. I forget sometimes just how lucky and am reminded when I think to step outside and go all the way to the back of our property. And that is the key: remembering to do things. Keeping the "everydayness" of the every day in the front of your mind can be very hard. So many other things clamor for attention. I hope it doesn't sound trite to suggest that these little moments of awareness add up to a larger bit of overall happiness to reflect upon when times are not great or easy. It's like paying into a savings account on a regular basis. Before you know it, there is a pile of goodness to draw on.

So, step outside today if you can and take a look around. You may just be surprised at what you see.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Long HauL

Mt. Lassen-photo by Libby Fife

This last week has been a bit of a sink hole for me. Doesn't everyone have times periodically where they just don't feel up to getting much done? I had some false starts with my painting, had to cancel my participation in a show, and have physically not felt right. Not to worry though! It's a long haul and I guess that you are either in it or not.

With regard to God's presence this week, it was difficult to detect. I haven't been doing any spiritual reading or praying-only thinking-and at these times I find that I am looking up from the base of the mountain rather than looking out and across from the top. Long haul indeed! But, things always pick up eventually and I guess, like the clouds surrounding Mt. Lassen in the photo above, things will eventually clear. But be warned! They may cloud up again so be prepared:)

Hope everyone has had a wonderful week:)

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Plummy Goodness!

Gifted Plum Goodness!
It's important to look hard for signs and happenings. Not everything is obvious at first as being a gift and I think it's OK to look, to assess, and to assess again later. 

I had a rock hit my windshield today on the way home and it made a crack. The windshield is fairly new too-within the year I would say. I am glad though that it wasn't worse. The rock breaking my windshield doesn't seem like a gift does it? Or, maybe it does.

As I was driving home, that rock made me think and remember what was sitting in a bag on my backseat. Not every gift comes from a store or is wrapped up. Though, admittedly, this one came in a plastic bag! I had lunch with my girlfriend today and she brought me some lovely plums from her Dad's tree. Such beautiful colors! I hardly want to eat them. They are destined for some jam I think. My grandmother used to make the most wonderful plum jam. I remember eating it and it makes me feel like a kid again (sort of)! As I said, not every gift comes in a package.


Monday, June 15, 2015


Big Chico Creek-photo by Libby Fife 2015
Lodged. Stuck.
An opening.
Reason, chance, determined.
Rock stuck in a stream
lodged, dislodged.
Moving again.


Saturday, June 13, 2015


Big Chico Creek River Bank-Photo by Rich Fife
My husband is a great photographer!

Our recent vacation has me thinking. I wake up every morning and try to remember to thank God for another chance; another go at it. Here are some words that are on my mind:

and rejoice


Friday, June 12, 2015

Look Down, Look Up

Big Chico Creek photo by Libby Fife
We have been on vacation for a week up in the little town of Chico. Well, not so little really. They have a great state college and lots of shopping and a beautiful park. None of those things though were the draw for us this time. This time, the Creek was the thing.

The above pic shows a portion of Big Chico Creek. This area runs through a wonderful property owned by a really amazing woman. We stayed in her cottage, a VRBO, and had a great time. We didn't do a darn thing! We hiked around, drove to nearby Mt. Lassen, read our books, visited with the cat, and of course, went in the creek. 

Creeks are a real attractor for me. I couldn't wait to get into this one so we went as soon as possible. The water was cold so I got in gradually. As I stood in the creek, looking off to the far ends and then looking closer at the water, I waited to have some profound thought or other about God, his presence in this space that I was enjoying. I could lie and say I had a great revelation but I didn't. I was incredibly grateful to be standing there, alive to the water and possibility of thinking about it, but nothing profound came to me. It wasn't until later, as I began to process things with words, that I had an idea.

Looking back to my experience of standing there in the water, I realized that there is something both secretive and open about that space. I felt as if I was a part of the space but yet somehow detached from it. In retrospect, I feel that I was having difficulty connecting with what I was seeing. There was a moment though when I looked down into the water, into my own reflection which carried to the bottom. I could see the rocks clearly-they seemed to be highlighted, made ultra sharp. I looked to the side of my reflection and the surroundings rocks were not as clear. They were a little blurred and not as colorful somehow. I then looked up to the surrounding creek banks and trees and bushes. Then, back down to this small little world made sharp by my own shadow. It was kind of amazing that I hadn't even noticed this. 

For me, the view seemed to be a metaphor of sorts for how I was seeing things that day. My thoughts were both clear and hazy. I was really waiting for one obvious thing to tell me about God's presence. Forget it! The obvious thing was the simplest thing and it was right in front of me. It was the creek itself and all that it entails: the water, the plants, the insects and the microcosm of rocks in my reflection. I just needed to look down to see things clearly. 


Sunday, June 7, 2015

The Swing of The Pendulum

It's very easy to get discouraged. The terms in Margaret Silf's book, Inner Compass, used to describe being discouraged have to do with movement. She calls them "desolation" and "consolation" and they describe both moving away from, and moving towards God.

Yesterday was a hot and muggy day and frankly, I woke up on the wrong side of the bed, as my mom used to say. The whole day was like that and I struggled to find some bright spots. I was definitely in a desolation stage. As the day drew to a close, I was happy to go to sleep. This morning everything is just fine. Definitely consolation. I feel better about things and better able equipped to deal with yesterday's disappointments and whatever today may bring. I recognize God's presence in my moods and in my attitudes as well as whatever is going on physically and mentally. It is all tied together. It's this recognition I think that is the presence of God. Being able to understand where you are on the spectrum of feelings and knowing that the pendulum can swing.

Hope everyone has a wonderful Sunday!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Step Right Up!

Before I forget! Yesterday, Thursday, was quite the day of mixed emotions for me. I say that because I try every day to do things and act in a way that I think are right. Each day produces some kind of effort. Yesterday was a day of ups and downs. Let me just highlight the part that went especially well. My neighbor came to my front door to talk with me about something that is happening in our neighborhood. I am happy about the fact that this neighbor feels like they can come to my house, knock on my door, and feel confidant that I will answer it and listen to them. We live on three acres, as does everyone else on our street, and driving up a long driveway to knock at a front door seems incredible to me. I wouldn't have done that myself in Concord where we lived previously. And our area is sort of tricky-people like to be left alone. But, as I said, this neighbor is just fine with that and I hope that she always feels welcomed.

Today, Friday, I feel particularly lucky. Or blessed. Or aware of the goodness that has come my way. I was able to teach a class today at our local art gallery. The fact that people would pay money to come and listen to me and actually get something from the situation, well, that is really something. I am so very thankful.


Wednesday, June 3, 2015


Backyard Moon-Libby Fife 2015
I have always wanted to take a shot of the moon in the AM so, no time like the present!

Last night as I was trying to fall asleep I noticed that the moon was shining through my window quite brightly. I got up to look and saw that the moon was sort of an orange color but was glowing strongly and illuminating my front yard. I saw the trees, the shed and the driveway all lit up as if there was a search light trained on them. This morning when I woke up the moon was then in the backyard over our hillside. I went and got my camera and tried out several settings before I got the above shot.

Today during my time in the Bay Area, I went to several stores to do my shopping. As I looked around at the shoppers I realized that everyone in the store was doing the same set of things: walking around, looking, thinking about a need or want that they had, and deciding whether or not to purchase something. It was quite a revelation to realize that there can be such a collective and mundane experience like that. I was reminded of that scene in the movie Moonstruck in which all of the characters experience the sight of the moon at the same time and have different reactions. And yet it is there shared experience of that moon which ties them all together for just that moment, regardless of their circumstances.

It's easy to overlook that we are all connected on some level and in some way. I am beginning to understand though that it's possible to detect the divine in these everyday connections; these common and sort of random experiences that we can all see and understand. It's just a matter of paying attention and connecting the dots.


Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Shared Silence

Lake Alpine-photo by Libby Fife 2014
I have been trying all day to get back some thoughts that I had earlier this morning. They might be gone. They came to me as I was walking this morning and I think they showed up because everything was very quiet. It's hard to still your mind isn't it but something about the repetitive nature of hearing your own footsteps on the gravel tends to focus everything down. It's why as much as I like saying hello to people on these walks it is almost counterproductive to thinking clearly. It's kind of a dual gift though: human contact versus clarity of thinking.  And it's the idea too that other people may be interrupting their own rhythms to greet me.  There is an underlying connection there though since for me, both actions help me to feel more in touch with God. So, I have to remember to feel grateful for both things and if my brilliant idea from this morning is gone, so be it. It may come back, you never know.

In the meantime, here is a very short essay that showed up in my news feed this morning. Another take on the idea of "shared silence."

Monday, June 1, 2015

Tracy Morgan

I don't know anything about comedian Tracy Morgan but I just finished watching his interview on the Today Show. It was hard to watch. The phrase "raw emotion" comes to mind. Normally I would have turned off the show. Watching someone else's misery as a form of entertainment doesn't suit me. But I watched this time and I am glad that I did. I am still opposed to watching the suffering of others in order to somehow gain something (entertainment, feeling better about your own situation) or to endorse a practice (such as exploiting people for ratings on TV) but somehow I feel that it was important to hear this man's story. He was just so very honest and so very basic about what must be a complex set of emotions. If that isn't a human-to-human experience I don't know what is. I  will never meet this guy of course but it doesn't matter. I was a witness to the everyday miracle of the human condition.