“Any Morning”

Have you ever felt guilty about feeling good? Ever felt as if you should be frowning, like everyone else, worried like everyone else, instead of smiling to yourself?

Today I thought I’d share this delightful poem that my daughter shared with me. I’ve been guilty of this very thing (as, I suspect, she has), and love the smile that this poem brings me, each time I read it.

I hope it brightens your day, too. 🙂


Any Morning (by William Stafford, 1914-1993)


Just lying on the couch and being happy.

Only humming a little, the quiet sound in the head.

Trouble is busy elsewhere at the moment, it has

so much to do in the world.

People who might judge are mostly asleep; they can’t

monitor you all the time, and sometimes they forget.

When the dawn flows over the hedge you can

get up and act busy. 

Little corners like this, pieces of Heaven

left lying around, can be picked up and saved.

People won’t even see that you have them,

they are so light and easy to hide.

Later in the day you can act like the others.

You can shake your head. You can frown.




(Photos courtesy of Stasia Honnold.)

Getting It Back

My mother always used to say I was stubborn. She was probably right. But that can be a good thing; you have to be stubborn – let’s call it tenacious – for a lot of things in life. Climbing. Running. Out-arguing your kids who have a million reasons why a particular chore doesn’t need to be done.

But sometimes, all the best intentions get you nowhere. Like this morning. I went for a run in the neighborhood streets. my usual almost-3-mile training run. But it’s been a long time. Too much life happening.

Wow. So hard! So slow! So hard to breathe! My calves are cramping and really hurt. Is this the same body that ran four marathons? Seven half-marathons? Countless smaller races? Could that be me? The same me who can’t run three miles now without slowing to a walk here and there?

I guess it depends how determined you are. When I really, really wanted to run that marathon, I trained according to a schedule. Rain or shine. Whether I felt like it or not. No matter how tired I was that day, or how many hours I had worked.

Where did that go? Will I get it back?

I like to think I will. I like to think that tenacity is a character trait and not a temporary condition. So I’ll schedule another run for this week, despite my overly-full work schedule. And another.

What have I learned from this? Once you’ve found what you love doing, keep doing it! Don’t let life interrupt your progress!

But of course, it will, no matter what you want. Life is like that.

So – do you have a solution?

What do you do when life gets in the way? When you plateau out, or even lose ground and go backwards? So far, the only solution I’ve found is to jump back in, ignore the (recently) lowered standards, and keep inching them back up.

I suspect that I’ll get there – if I want to badly enough.

What do you want to accomplish this year? Let me know – keep me posted. We can help each other get there. As the French proverb says, “little by little, the bird makes its nest” – one tiny twig at a time:

Petit à petit, l’oiseau fait son nid.

Good words to live by.

Balance and Goals

How’s your balance? Can you stand on one foot for more than a few seconds?

Does it sometimes seem like your life is careening out of your control? Out of balance?

In my blog on Feb. 20, ‘17 (“Know Thyself”), I talked about the book “Maximum Climbing” (http://www.maximumclimbing.com). The author, Eric Hörst, talks a lot about goal-setting. Do you set goals for yourself? Do you reach them? Why (not)?

Alex Honnold, the world-famous rock climber (and my son) sets it out clearly in his writing: ‘mindfulness’, or ‘purposefulness,’ are synonymous with goal-setting. According to him, these are what make you advance:

• be aware (remember meta-cognition, from that blog?)

• set your goal, and

• work toward that conscious goal every day.

Every day.

If you don’t set a goal, you’re not going to get there. Obvious. You might dream about it, wish for it, talk about it – but without a concrete, very specific goal, one that you can write down in one short sentence, chances are very slim that you’ll reach it.

When I was young, I dreamed of writing a book. Teaching at a college. Conducting an orchestra. I longed to someday live abroad, to work as a tour guide, or at an airport. Those dreams have all come true – because I didn’t just dream about them. All my life, a series of conscious, constant small steps made them happen.

When I was older, I dreamed of marriage and a family of my own (done). Much older still, I wondered whether I could run a marathon (done), or climb outdoors (done!).

Over the last decade, my life has moved into a new, physical realm that I’d never dreamed of earlier. Since about 1971, I’ve always found great joy in traveling this fascinating planet — but lately my trips always seem to include a physical goal, like rock climbing or hiking or running. Goals require balance; sometimes they can be combined, but always keeping balance in mind.

Because just as important as setting the goal for yourself is the ability to keep your goals and your life in balance. Do you work more hours than you live? Is your work your life? Do you spend more hours on line than interacting with real people?

To balance your life, you need to equalize some of those numbers.

What’s important to you? What have you always dreamed of doing? As improbable as it seemed that I’d ever have my own orchestra, once the geographical opportunity presented itself (when we moved to a place that had no local classical music), I made a plan — a goal — and moved ahead with it, tiny step by tiny step.

Listen here to the story of the West Sacramento Community Orchestra.

Goals, and balancing those goals with everyday life — that’s where true satisfaction lies.

I wish you lots and lots of satisfaction!


A Legacy of Smiles

While cleaning out my office this weekend, I came across a tiny card with the following printed on it, and I thought I’d share it and, I hope, share a smile with you.

Before I do, though, a bit of background: Ray Perlick was my mother’s cousin. He grew up in Plymouth, PA at the beginning of the 20th century. When he was about 4 or 5, his brother found their father’s gun and was playing with it. It went off, and the bullet lodged in Ray’s spine. He was horribly crippled for the rest of his life, with no muscle control from his waist down and misshapen legs.

As a little girl of 4 or 5 or so myself, I was always horrified to watch him struggle so hard to get from his rolling chair (a precursor of today’s high-tech wheelchairs) to the wooden bench in their backyard. Or trying to perch his uncooperative, non-responsive limbs on the leather stool where he worked as a jeweler in his tiny shop. I felt guilty that I could bounce around their yard, while he could only watch. I only became aware of the horrible pain he suffered all his life much later, when I was old enough to understand.

The card I found in my desk was, I suppose, his business card. He had given it to me many years ago, and I guess I slipped it into my wallet. Then another wallet. Then tucked it into a desk or two, as I traveled through life.

One side simply listed his business:

Ray Perlick


6 – – W. Main St.

Plymouth PA

(No zip codes back then; even the 2-digit, pre-zip postal codes weren’t needed, in this little town on the Susquehanna River)

The other side of the card said this:



A smile costs nothing but gives much. –

It takes but a moment, but the memory of it usually lasts forever.

None are so rich that can get along without it.

And none are so poor but that can be made rich by it.

It enriches those who receive

Without making poor those who give –

It creates sunshine in the home.

Fosters good will in business

And is the best antidote for trouble –

And yet it cannot be begged, borrowed or stolen, for it is of no value

Unless it is freely given away.

Some people are too busy to give you a smile –

Give them one of yours.

For the good Lord knows that no one needs a smile so badly

As he or she who has no more smiles left to give.

Such a happy philosophy, wrapped in a body like his! How blessed we are, then, we of sound limb and body! Let’s all try to share Ray’s happiness with everyone, one smile at a time.

The perfect legacy, Uncle Ray!