Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Gifts of Our See

A favorite beach of mine has nestled itself into a hidden cove along Italy’s Amalfi coast. Four hundred stone steps meander like rotten teeth down the side of a cliff, sprigs of vegetation sprouting out between the cracks, thirsting for water but settling for mists of salty spray. I can’t look down, not yet. It’s still too far away. But I can feel the promise. My heart, it stammers. Do I really get to…? Do I really get to…? Do I really get to….see you again?

When the steps end the path begins. Pebbles. And sand. And some dirt mixed in. And suddenly, we are in the mouth of an enormous cave. If you stop walking you’ll hear water dripping, echoing, the moist air chilling your skin to goose bumps. But if its afternoon, it’s a welcome chill, respite for your shiny, sun kissed skin.

The beach has little sand. No, that’s not its call. It must be that arch over there, you say, the one we can swim under, right? Or what about the wooden boat hovering as if on glass, the water so clear eyes dare to dance for meters and meters below? Yes! That must be it, you say! And what is that feeling welling up in me? Is that part of its magic, too?

I kneel down, our hearts at feast. The gentle lapping of the Mediterranean, the soft warmth of the sun, a lullaby, a ninnananna, a rhythmic gift from universe to sea.

And beneath our feet, the littlest of treasures. One. Then another. Turquoise. Red. A soft green. And yellow. There’s dark blue, bright blue, shiny blue and purple. Patterns and swirls and crests and twirls. We run. And skip. And giggle to the beat of our hearts. One then two, then seven then eight. Our pockets once empty, swell to bulging. Our souls once thirsty, waltz to sea.

“Garbage!” says the old man with a scowl on his face.
“Treasure!” you say, “why look, don’t you see?”

But his head has turned away. He has forgotten. Forgotten the painted gifts. The garbage turned gifts, gifts of his sea. 

Monday, April 25, 2011

Making Smiles!

Here's a clip of one of the sweetest men in our magical little town...maybe it has something to do with what he sells! Hope he gives you a smile today as he always does me!

Yo. Scream. from Kevin Shepit on Vimeo.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Feel This Thought

The grandmaster of a martial arts branch
the head
only takes up
one eighth 
of the entire body.
Anyone that uses only his head
to think
is seven-eighths

Simple Living

I have a basket on my table. It's filled with rocks. I counted fifteen but I have a hunch there are a few more scattered around the house. Sofia likes them too. She’s three.

Each rock made its way into the basket for a reason. A reason that is particular to each one. A few caught my eye. One caught my toe. Others seemed to just plop! right into the middle of my path. So I picked them up. I felt them—their smooth ridges, their bumpy skins. I looked at them—their mottled colors, their moody shapes. And when I felt a smile bubble up inside me, I took them home. To live in the basket.

And then, word-lover that I am, I gave them names. Not just any old names. Names that suited them. With words that suited me. And I wrote those names on them with a permanent pen.


I have a basket on my table. It's filled with rocks. Rocks with words. Together they make my day just a little bit more beautiful.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Universe Has a Sense of Humor

My brother loves a challenge. As a kid he strived to out run my father, to hit a phone line a quarter-mile away with a BB, to solve Rubik’s cube before he was a teenager, and to play the piano like Billy Joel. He succeeded in everything he set his mind to. Still does. Given a challenge, he will rise to it. Every time. It’s almost as if he can’t fail.

My brother also plays golf. And he is good at it. Very, very good at it. So one day at the driving range as he was hitting balls after school, he realized he was a tad bored and decided a challenge was just the thing to remedy the situation. He looked around at the other golfers all lined up in their conservative clothes, following the rules like the good, conscious, etiquette-minded people they were and figured he had only one choice if he wanted to continue to be an upstanding member of the group. To hit the ball. Again. But where?

It had to be a challenge so he chose the farthest, most unlikely target he could possibly find. A post. About a kazillion yards away, the end of the driving range in fact. He lined up, focused, and like a tornado, ripped that ball toward the post so hard and fast it took off like an earth bound rocket. And, in true form, he hit it. Not on the edge or even near the bottom, but smack dab right in the middle of the post. *WHACK!* The only problem was, he assumed the post was wood. It wasn't. It was metal.

The arc of his golf ball may have appeared quite lovely if someone had actually seen it fly off his club like a rocket, but as it made its return at a speed close to mach-1 (approx.340 m/sec),  I am sure a very different adjective would be needed. And especially if the observant happened to be a part of the tightly packed line of rule-following golfers enjoying their sacred day at the range.

Before he even realized what had happened, it was too late. She was knocked out cold, her husband beside her on the ground wondering why he hadn’t seen it coming. My brother ran to see if he could help, terrified that he had really hurt her. He loved a challenge but never at the expense of hurting anyone, well, except maybe his sister.

“I’m so very sorry. Can I get you some ice? What about dinner, can I buy you dinner?”
“No, no. Thank you, Son. You are very kind. She’ll be ok. Just a little bump, is all. Not to worry.”

But he did worry. He came home that night to tell us the story, reminding us all, especially his beloved sister who couldn’t stop laughing, that the universe has a sense of humor, even if you’re as perfect as my dear brother.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Shhhh...its a Secret

I have a secret. And I want to share it with you. Don’t worry. It will still be a secret even if I tell you. I am sure of it. It’s so secret-ish that you’ll want to keep it secret too.

Ok, here it goes….

I have a fairy godmother. And she is real. This time the magic isn’t just in my imagination. Promise. Her name is Lissa. She is older and much wiser than me. And this is her story.

Lissa grew up the only daughter of a gypsy family. Both her parents were artists, Americans who traveled the world and they took Lissa along. A few times in there she was left alone to fend for herself. Once she lived for two years on a European island. She learned to sense when anyone or anything was within two miles of her, sensing their presence like the goddesses you once read about in your fairy tales. Villagers would sometimes leave her flour so she could make bread but the rest of the time she lived off the fat of the land. Alone. While she lived there she learned to make noises like a horse, to communicate with them so well that later in her childhood she was invited to speak horse on the radio and to be the center of a parade.

When she was 13 she saw what working and the thirst for money did to people and she decided then and there never to work. So she didn’t. She sculpted. She painted. She twirled and laughed, and made love and joy. And she never had a job her whole life. Today she owns land in two countries, has two beautiful homes in Mexico, and her two grown children already have children of their own.

And did I tell you that she is my fairy godmother? She came over to visit one day after I moved into my magic casita.

            “Brynne,” she said. “Do you have a fairy godmother?”
            “No,” I said, “but I have always wanted one.”
            “Well,” she said, “I’d like to offer my services. Can I be your fairy godmother?”
            “Yes,” I said thru giggles, “I’d like that very much.”

I highly recommend that you find one, too. Either that or be one for someone else, yourself. It’s a nice part of my life. A really, really nice part. If you could be me for a day, I think you’d agree.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Benjamin Francis Smart

Today my short story, Benjamin Francis Smart, has reached #51 in the top 100 personal transformation sales on Amazon! If you have anyone who needs a little inspiration please send them the link above or gift it to them. Its only 99 cents!
a thank you squish,

Dear Woman

Sunday, April 3, 2011


A few years ago, thirteen to be exact, I co-taught a year of school to 16 four and five year old pre-kindergarten energy capsules. I loved every second of it—the questions, the emotions, the joy, the innocence and intensity—it fed me in ways I am still discovering all these years later. I guess it comes as no surprise then, that the best compliment I have ever received came from a student that year, his inquisitive face forever emblazoned into my memory, forever smiling as he places a star onto my heart.

It was recess. We were on the playground. Most of the teachers were standing along the perimeter, looking on, while I, this time at least, decided to play with my kids. I can’t remember exactly what I was doing but I am sure it had nothing to do with keeping my clothes clean, my hair coiffed or my voice anywhere near mature. So when I was tapped on the leg by one of my kids, I am sure I expected him to say something else entirely. Maybe something about me playing a different character or moving to a different place where I didn’t take up so much space, or maybe even that it was time for me to leave so they could play alone. I never could have guessed that something entirely different was in store for me.

“Miss Brynne,” he said with big brown eyes as dark as a chocolate cupcake, “I have a question.”

“Ok,” I said, encouraging him, “What is it?”

“Well, I was wondering….are you a kid or a grown up?”

And just like that the best compliment I have ever received, was born. (After I was finished controlling the hilarity practically bursting me wide open, that is.) This four year old’s question became the question that I still measure all my future success upon…am I being a kid or a grown up? And almost every time, only one answer finds it way into my ‘truly successful’ department. Anyone can be a grown up, but not everyone can prolong the joy, the innocence, the magic of childhood.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

the JOY of Imagination!

Got Compassion?

Many people in our world today lack compassion for others. Inmates, people on one side of any fence, store clerks, corporations, mother-in-laws, son-in-laws, business people, policy makers, even every-day people walking by suffering human beings on the side of the road. No doubt these same individuals lack compassion for themselves. So, is it possible to change this epidemic? Can compassion be taught? Can someone learn to grow compassion? And if so, how? What if we each began with ourselves?

* * *

“Every time I get on the plane,” said Vicki one day after work, “I have this stupid worry that either I am going to die or my family will and that I will never see them again.” She traveled for work so this was no small problem. “Isn’t that ridiculous? Why am I so worried? The likelihood isn’t even statistically significant. I wish I wasn’t so insecure.” She took a sip of her wine.

I didn’t think she was insecure at all but it was obvious that she didn’t have compassion for herself or what she felt. I suddenly had an idea. “Do you believe in past lives?” I asked her, seemingly out of the blue.

“What? Are you serious? Of course not. You think that has something to do with my unreasonable worries?” She took another sip, this one more like a gulp.

I ignored her self-criticism. “What if you had a real, deep-seeded reason to think your family might die before you saw them again? What if…the way you feel isn’t foolish, but rooted in something important inside you that needs to be honored?”

“You’re always so positive Brynne,” she said with a sarcastic twang, “but come on. I’m just neurotic.” More self-criticism and lack of compassion for herself.

“What if you were, say, Anastasia in a past life?” I wasn’t going to give up. Not yet.

“You mean the Russian royal daughter who’s whole family was shot and killed in front of her? The young girl who they say was the only living survivor of a horrible massacre during the Russian Revolution?”

“Yep, her.” Now it was my turn to take a gulp.

“So you’re saying that’s why I worry about losing my family now, because of something that happened to me in a past life? Ha!” She faked a laugh but then began to consider my proposal again. “It would make sense if I was Anastasia, wouldn’t it?” Her face slowly began to change, to soften. I watched as she processed the idea, as she began to grow compassion for herself, to come to an understanding that maybe she actually did feel worried about for a reason. “Its a nice idea. I’ll give you that. Heck, even past lives don't exist it still makes me feel less stupid about my worries, as if maybe I do have a reason for the way I am. I mean, if my parents did die before my eyes when I didn’t expect it, then maybe I would have a reason for being so worried that it might happen again. We are conditioned beings, after all.”

I waited for a moment, having the feeling she wasn’t done yet. I was right.

“I was gonna tell you earlier Brynne, but didn’t. Um, I’m sure things will work out fine with your your work. And anyway, I bet things will look a lot better in the morning after a good rest.”

“Thanks, Vicki.” I said with a smile that hid the depth of my joy. It was the first truly compassionate thing she had ever said to me in almost two years. She had grown a trace of compassion for herself so she finally had some compassion to give away.

* * *

When you put your hand in front of your face, you can’t see it clearly. In much the same way many of us cannot grow compassion for ourselves when we look ourselves, or our situations, straight in the face. But with a little imagination, things can begin to change. With techniques to engage creative thinking, we can move from our heads to more heart-centered places, from judgment-based living to more feeling-based living.

When we have compassion for ourselves, wherever we are or whatever we feel, we are more likely to have compassion for others. You don’t want to go to the party because you don’t feel up for it? Then honor that. Don’t feel bad about it. Be who you are. You feel terrible every time you’re around their arguing? Then leave when they start. Honor yourself, have compassion for what you feel. And the more you do, notice yourself begin to have more compassion for others’ feelings, as well. Once we touch our own domino of compassion, the dominoes of compassion for our friends follow suit….and so on, and so day touching those who need to be touched the most.

How different would our world be if we all lived with more compassion…for ourselves and for one another? I dare you not to smile at the answer.