Sanctuary, often

Sanctuary, wherever you can find it
That seems to be my number one impulse.
It only dawned on me just now that I seek solitary space every day. And often throughout the day. 
There might be some who can’t benefit from reflective time, but I haven’t met them.

It’s more than just about renewal — which of course, is critical. It’s about reconnection. Connecting back to what matters most. 
Who do I want to be in the world?

What am I creating through my attention and action?

What do I want to create most?
Sanctuary, wherever I can find it, gets me there.
Every single time I emerge from private communion I feel myself lightened. I feel the light in me suffusing my vision. I feel lighthearted . . . and a lightness of being . . . You could call it blissed out or connected or amped up or in tune . . . and you wouldn’t be wrong.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 
The above photos are from a surprise glass shrine we encountered on our travels. In seemingly nowhere Nebraska this structure appeared — when you see a glass sanctuary built for reverence amidst the fields of Nebraska, you have to stop!
We pulled off at the next exit and wound our way back to this place. Called the Holy Family Shrine it coalesced because several individuals — unbeknownst to each other — had a similar dream. 
Though it is meant for Catholics, the space is welcoming to all. The entirety of its purpose is so one can enter into a personal spiritual space.
How beautiful is that?
And how beautiful is this — my wife Ann coming out from her own meditation in the Shrine.


An invitation to purge

Today I created a big effing mess. 

We’re in Indiana on the last leg of our monthlong workcation. After dropping off my wife and son at the senior care home for her parents, I drove over to a gas station for some diesel fuel for the van and ice for the cooler.

While angling the cooler to drain the water in it, everything shifted. The veggie tray with dip burst out of its container spewing itself all over the contents in the cooler.

I reacted with the usual epithets.

Colorful as they were, they didn’t get me anywhere. 

Then I picked out a gobbed-up bottle of something. Then another. The dip and cut-up veggies slimed every single thing. Drink bottles, lunch meat, cheese, peanut butter, grapes, blueberries  . . . surprisingly the only unscathed item was a small bottle of mayo. 

Surprising because everything looked like slathered mayo except the mayo.

Fifteen minutes into the cleanup I realized: This is an opportunity to purge

Here we were, 3.5 weeks into our monthlong jaunt and the cooler contents hadn’t been thoroughly cleaned.

So item by item I wiped each one clean, set it aside and dove back in for another. Till the only thing remaining was gooey, sloshy, viscous ooze clinging to the insides of the cooler. 

Dozens of paper towels later, it was all cleaned up. Purged of the unnecessary, organized better than since we’d set off. Lickety spickety clean too.

Every crisis is an invitation to purge. It’s an opportunity to reorient. To pare back. To simplify. And finally, to reinvent.

When cancer struck my wife, it was an invitation to healthier living.

When the crash nearly took our business asunder, it was an opportunity to rethink our business model.

Yes, these situations were under extreme duress, but the purge and reorganization that followed set us onto better paths. With better outcomes.

Franklin, Indiana


When love starts a thing: Park City, Utah

This is a close-up shot of a tree in Park City, Utah. It’s festooned with shoes of all kinds. Boots, sneakers, hiking shoes, trail shoes, water clogs, even sandals. Footgear of all stripes. 
The entirety of this small stand of trees is similarly outfitted. An uncountable number of shoes dangle from the branches. Some of them at impossible heights. Who has that kind of hurling prowess?
Most commonly a pair of shoes are tied at the laces and flung into the tree canopy, coming to full stop when they snag on a limb.
I came across this spectacle along a pathway adjacent to our hotel. When I asked the woman at the check-in counter about the shoes, she countered:
“Do you want the myth or the truth?”
Me: “Both, of course!”
The myth is that a couple hikers almost lost their lives on an expedition . . . and were so jubilant upon reaching civilization that they flung their hiking boots up into the trees to celebrate. Over time, others followed suit and it became a trend.
The truth worked better for me. A newly-wedded couple flung their tied-together shoes into the trees, symbolic of their now-joined life adventure. Very quickly it became a thing. People tossed their footwear up into the trees by the dozens.
Now, once a year, volunteers ascend into the trees to dislodge the shoes. They donate hundreds of shoes to a local charity each year. 
How freaking cool is that?!
Exuberant love made an impulsive gesture. Others picked up on the act. Now it continues year upon year, awing those like me who happen to pass by, benefitting scores of people who can put those shoes to use.
Who knows if those original lovers even know what followed in their wake?
When love starts a thing, watch out—
Park City, Utah


The difference between the mundane and the vividly imagined

This observatory tower overlooking the Bonneville Salt Flats could have been a yawn. It could have been the standard rectangle with a viewing platform, with a perfectly perfunctory stairs attached. Maybe an elevator.

Instead, the state of Utah opted for something curvy, something lyrical.

The ramp curves lightly upward like a treble cleft untangling in three-dimensional space. The awning over the viewing area evokes a sail . . . or the helm of a modern-day yacht.

The structure is surprisingly fluid for one anchored in a hard and dry Western desert.

The difference between the mundane and the imaginative is profound. It’s the difference between humdrum and hell yes.



Wonder bringers

christo floating piers

I’ve been a fan of Christo and Jeanne Claude ever since their Central Park project. I lived in New York City at the time . . . To gaze at these saffron-colored sheets billowing in the wind as they were being installed was to gaze at transcendence made manifest. In the heart of the heart of the Western world . . . 

Here’s a link to their current project, floating piers connecting two islands on an Italian lake.

They are not the only ones . . . 

Many are wonder bringers. You, me, others, when we’re at our best. When we’re infusing our work with greatness. When we’re channeling the superlative into our interactions. When we air kiss the celestial spirit in the sky with our shimmering minds . . . 

Lake Tahoe, California
(with appreciation for Gil Vega, who alerted me to the latest from Chisto and Jeanne Claude)


Elephant seal commonality

Looking like beached Botero nudes, these elephant seals sun themselves on central California shores.

Occasionally one lifts its head and barks. Others nearby jiggle as though sharing a joke.

They have something in common with you and me. They need each other. 

We creatives can be solitary sorts. Our best work comes steeped in solitude. 

But for our work to get out there, we need community.

In fact, long before we have work worthy of public scrutiny, we need community.

Just north of Hearst Castle, California


Perfect for a retreat: Riverbend Hot Springs in the New Mexico desert

Last summer Travis Thomas and I scooted away for a short creative retreat. It turned out to be such a pivotal moment for me creatively that I now actively seek to turn a portion of every vacation into creative focus time.

Here’s a suggestion for writers, thinkers and spiritual seekers: Riverbend Hot Springs in Truth Or Consequences, New Mexico.

There are few more out of the way places. A couple hours south of Albuquerque and a couple hours north and west of El Paso, Texas, this little desert town sports a humble, zenalicious getaway.

You can come in an RV or you can rent a room. Quiet is not only encouraged, it’s insisted upon. There are only two modes at Riverbend: Quiet and Whisper.

Signs let you know which zone you’re in. 

This is sure to delight anyone focused on drawing out deeper resources. Or anyone looking to go full sloth on vacation.

The hot pools are spring-fed, mineral-rich delights of varying temperatures. From warm to warmer to Oh Yeah We’re Going To Sleep Like Bambinos Tonight.

The five public pools overlook the swirling Rio Grande.

For you writers, spiritual seekers, and digital creatives, it’s a perfect locale for a creative or spiritual retreat

(For artists, alas, unless you’re coming with a sketchpad only, it’s difficult to see how this might work for you.)

A retreat does more than rejuvenate. It can be a pivot point to the person you really want to be.



#FromTheRoad: Your reminder today

Several years ago when I was forced to travel extensively without my family, I decided to look for signs of love every day.

As a reminder that it indeed is everywhere. I need only look for it. 

Surprisingly, it worked for me. Not only did I find signs and symbols of love everywhere . . . caring connections seemed to pop up daily along my route. In conversations, small gestures, the warmth of strangers.
I thought you might enjoy a reminder too . . . that love is pervasive when we look for it.

Here’s your reminder today. . .

Somewhere in Arizona


The crucible of creation: Fredericksburg, Texas

For our business we’re fortunate. We get to visit artist’s studios. 

If you’re a creative you’re thrilled to peek into work spaces of others doing creative work. 

It doesn’t matter if high art or commercial fare is being created there. 

It doesn’t matter if the space belongs to a craftworker, architect, designer, entrepreneur or artist, there’s something inspiring checking out the spaces where creativity meets work ethic.

Art studio du Jill Holland
Fredericksburg, Texas


The spillover effect: #FromTheRoad

Don’t you appreciate artistic touches on mundane structures?
Not only is a statement being made that the creative impulse matters to us as a society, it enhances our visual environment.
Visual cues shape behavior. And they signal importance.
Celebrating art in public spaces spurs a nation built on creative daring. 
Las Cruces, New Mexico