Our Shifting Lives

Dear Reader,

Here I am this morning, in my writing loft, the rain tapping on the skylight, my dog Abbe leaning against my leg. I’ve just returned home from a trip, and as always happens this time of year, my yard has changed ever so slightly: the Gravenstein apple tree has burst into song, as has my neighbor’s flowering dogwood. The lilac’s even thinking about blooming.

And the containers out front have somehow regenerated themselves without any help from me: pansies that overwintered spill across their depleted soil; sedums vibrate in glossy green; zebra-striped grasses inch up from the ground.

Spring always takes me surprise. Here in the northwest, the winter days can be quite dark and dreary, and it can take a while before you notice that something has shifted.  And when you do notice just one thing—a crocus, a robin, or simply the light coming in your window at 7 p.m.—this can lead to a new level of alertness in your everyday life.

What is a small thing you have noticed changing this week? What has shifted ever so slightly: in your physical or emotional world? Write about this for just 15 minutes, and see if this small noticing leads you to contemplate deeper things.

Let us know what you’ve seen. We always love to hear from you.
With gratitude,


6 thoughts on “Our Shifting Lives

  1. Welcome to Writing Practice! We’re looking forward to forming a bright and vibrant online writing community.
    With good wishes,

  2. I found this link though Brevity, Brenda, congratulations on the contents of that envelope in your mail box. When I am back I will surely pick up a copy.

    I’m doing what I don’t do enough: a prompt. Thanks for it! I have a letter of my own up on my blog that I wrote to an apartment tower–I’m jealous you two had the attention of a human for the length of a book…

    15 minutes yielded…

    I am living in South Korea and life here is rarely not about shifting. For a place many consider to be linear, there are so often rumbles and adjustments. It is custom not to give information, not until the last necessary minute. The schedule has changed, there’s a knock at the door, a note on the desk, or often one just steps into the wrong line or into the locked door. Shift is a good word to describe the absorption of this information. The trajectory of the narrative is disrupted, and I tend to shift into frustration. But, Spring has been a most welcome shift, in an unwelcoming land. The grey of this place is now peppered with the green around its feet. I hope that it can stay through the summer. But apart from the shift of season, I feel most the apartment move we made on the heels of Spring’s arrival. We face North now, in a much better geometry and altitude. Farther from the ground (road noise) and farther from the intersection (light pollution). Most importantly at this moment, is the increase in beauty from the sunset. There is a glowing parallelogram angled against the opposite wall from me, with an angle of mutated floral print jutting perpendicular out of its northern quadrant. Coming from a grey, noisy winter, the angle of glow is a welcome sight. It is in many ways formless, a shape against cheap wallpaper, reflect impurely with cuts and faults. But there is in the glow something that radiates more than even the best painting against the cold grey could do. Winter felt bland as a grave, but this light, this imperfect strip of light turns the banal things into glow. Fish oil bottles, coffee mugs, plug adapters, sunglasses, teddy bears; all these silly accoutrements have shadow and warmth, depth and life. Bless the shift that brought my windows into the sun’s face. Thanks for the gold.

    • It occurs to me, just after posting, there is the slow shift of the four sided glow across the wall, bending into the bureau, stretching over the ottoman, feeling for the floor. It crawls with an imperceptible slowness one gathers only through patience. Surely something one becomes richer for.

  3. Thank you so much for being our first correspondent Joe!
    And what a beautiful reflection, in every sense of the word. How wonderful to look so closely at the small details that yield so much insight.
    Best wishes,

  4. Brenda and Holly, I’m at the Larkspur Inn, 10:46 pm, Renton, Washington. Got the last room, a suite with a four person meeting table with faux leather chairs. When I walked in, I shied away from the table. Someone else will sit there in their power meetings when I’m gone.

    Nope. Flip that light on and set your writing notebook on that table, I thought.

    Now, I just finished reading your posts, and the responses about “bowing to what is,” and “shift.” At lunch today a friend and I talked about her mother, a feisty Ukranian-Canadian woman recovering from knee surgery. My friend Donna stayed in Winnepeg seven days to be with her. They made dumplings from flour and water, fresh cheese on the stovetop from buttermilk. Her mother hadn’t been able to cook her special foods for three months.

    Isn’t it a gift to slow down? One of us said. Maybe it was me, remembering days with my mom when I could let go of everything else. To just be there and do what our aging parents want to do, even if it makes no sense to our lives back home. Once she got in bed, she wanted to talk, so I just sat down and held her hand, Donna said. Never mind the dishes waiting and that it was midnight. We had only these few days.

    That’s the glow on my wall tonight, the hawk in my garden. Seeing a mother and daughter discover their new way of being, opening to what is.

    • Dear Katie! How beautiful to imagine you in that corporate hotel room, transforming it into a site of creativity and imagination. That’s the power of intention, eh? Thank you for these stories!