meditation on happiness, broccoli, and Andrew Bird

The Trouble with Birds. Charcoal portrait with digital collage. 2017.

The Trouble with Birds. Charcoal portrait with digital collage. 2017.


Dear hearts, I wanted to include a sample of my monthly newsletter, the Creative Heart. Here is part of the letter I wrote for the month of September. If you'd like to sign up to receive these monthly letters, you can do so below. 

"Last night, standing in the kitchen with three heads of organic broccoli and a very sharp knife,

I realized I was happy. It’s a strange thing- the way moments of happiness can arrive unexpectedly. Andrew Bird was playing on the stereo and everything just seemed so perfect in that moment: the tidy kitchen counters, the oven pre-heating, the broccoli heads deep green, the chop-chop-chop of the knife sliding through the broccoli stems. It was a hummingbird of a moment. Fleeting. Within ten minutes, the broccoli was in the oven and I’d gone off to change my clothes for an evening out. I wasn’t in the moment anymore, I was reflecting on it, composing this newsletter in my head.

I had another moment like this last week. Driving home from yoga class after a brief rain shower.

The sun, setting earlier now, lit up the power lines along my street like strands of Christmas lights, the beads of water on the lines gleaming yellow, orange, red. It was a glorious sight, and short-lived. By the time I pulled my phone out of my purse at the stop sign to snap a photo, the light had shifted. The photo captured a mundane scene: setting sun and black power lines. 

In August, I spent a week at a cabin in the Smoky Mountains. I woke early in the mornings to sit on the porch with my coffee and my journal and watch the sun come up over the mountain. A little while after the sun rose, the butterflies would arrive, a flurry of activity suddenly appearing in the bush right off the porch.

And then, the hummingbird would come, right onto the porch hovering inches from my face for a moment before it flew away. The first morning, it was unexpected and I gasped with surprise and delight. It was an extraordinary experience- magical in its singularity. Then the hummingbird returned the next morning and each successive morning for the remainder of the week. Its momentary presence felt like a benediction, a reminder of presence and grace and ineffable beauty.

These experiences help remind me to hold moments of happiness lightly, with an open hand not grasping.

To appreciate them when they arrive and to remember that happiness happens in brief moments of connection— with ourselves, with others, with our environment. I so often find myself striving for big goals that I think will make me happy, with the result that I am apt to live in my head and my to-do list. I imagine this is a lesson I will come around to again and again through life. 

As always, I’d love to hear from you- the dark and difficult and the light and lovely.

What questions are you currently exploring? What’s singing in your heart this month? 

Much love,