The Call

In the words of Marianne Williamson: "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

"To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, December 08, 2008

Home Is Where The Heart Is

Home is where the heart is? Where are our hearts this morning?

It is a cold and foggy morning in Winchester, Oregon. We came here in August to work for Hickory Farms over the holidays. We are over half way through that assignment and glad of it. It has had it's ups and downs. We have become friends with the store manager after a rocky start. We are already questioning our choice of location. We feel drawn to an area farther to the north ~ up Yoncalla way.

We went to an open house at the Applegate house yesterday and had a delightful time. Since we have both just read "Skookum", written by Shannon Applegate, and so much took place in that house, it was almost a spiritual experience to be there. The old house was decorated for Christmas and we stood around the table in the "men's side" singing Christmas carols. They laid out quite a spread of food for snacking and had warm cider and mulled wine. It was great spending time with Bob and Sue and we even met Shannon Applegate and Susan Applegate from the book.

Where do we want to settle down? Do we want to settle down? We seem to have the wunderlust, much like the Applegate men of old. We are in love with the history of this place. As we stood in front of the house looking off at the twinkling lights of Yoncalla, we talked of the spirit of the old home place. We have spent time in so many houses that we seem to be very sensitive to the spirit of a place and this one certainly has that in spades. We were privileged to be able to go upstairs with Bob. I would have loved to just sit awhile up there with the spirits that wander the hallways. If a house could talk, this one certainly would. Is our new home up in the valley around Yoncalla? Or perhaps up on one of the hills?

We are seekers. We spend a great deal of time pondering the where and why of our lives. We seem to be filled with questions. When I look back at years of journals, I find pages and pages of questions ~ many of the same questions repeated year after year. Are other people asking the same questions that we ask ourselves, especially now that so many are going through challenging times?

I am reminded of the quotes from our wedding vows. Vow ~ that is a powerful word when one looks back. We took a vow to "take the road less traveled by" and to "go to the woods and live deliberately". Perhaps we should listen to those vows once again. We have traveled the highways and bi-ways for many years now. We have slept in more beds that most folks every dream of sleeping in during a lifetime, except maybe a traveling salesman ~ are there still traveling salemen around? I think even most long haul truckers sleep in their trucks these days. The question of the day .....what is really important ~ today and every day? It is definately something worth thinking about and writing about. What is important to us .......where is our sense of belonging? What defines that in our lives?

I came across a wonderful article by Ardath Rodale yesterday. It appeared in Prevention in October of '05. It gave me pause to think about my life.... our lives and where we are right now. What road lies ahead?

Come, Little Leaves
As the seasons change, rejuvenate your spirit.

Come, little leaves, said the wind one day,
Come over the meadows with me and play;
Put on your dresses of red and gold;
Summer is gone, and the days grow cold. --George Cooper

Imagine a perfect autumn day! It is truly a magical time of year with trees dressed in their finest array of colors--gold, green, orange, red. There are so many things to be thankful for. The changing seasons help us to evaluate where we have been, what we want to remember, and how we plan to grow.

As I watch the dance of the falling leaves, I think of how short their lives are--perhaps 6 months. The sun is playing hide-and-seek with them, peeping in and out of billowing clouds in a bright blue sky. It's like life--sun and shadow, happiness and sadness, strength and weakness.

But right now as I walk around the farm, I throw back my head with happiness in my heart and, as I do every fall, I repeat the "Come, Little Leaves" poem that I had to memorize in second grade. I have many thoughts as I watch the leaves. To me, they are so much more interesting than when everything is just green. I like to think that all the spectacular colors represent the people of the world. We all have different wants and needs, opinions and cultures; but we all come from the same root of humanity: the trunk of the tree of life.

Then I ask myself, Do the leaves know how it feels to bid farewell to the warmth of the sun? Do they realize that as they fall, they mingle with the earth to nourish the tree that has been their mother? Their lives have a purpose, just as our lives do. Leo Buscaglia wrote a touching book for all ages about this subject called The Fall of Freddie the Leaf.

Autumn also is a time to prepare for an inward journey and give time to personal reflection. I like to think that, just as the leaves fall, our own regrets and sadness can fall away from our inner trees, which are really ourselves, and be swept away by the invigorating breeze of renewed hope. We can feel lighthearted and happy again as we move forward toward the new year to come.

Remember the dance of the beautiful falling leaves and the lessons they teach of uplifting the spirit so that you can paint a picture of their glory to hold in the center of your heart all year long.

Monday, October 13, 2008

A Beautiful Autumn Week At Tuckaway Farm

October 13, 2008

Our apartment is feeling a bit claustrophobic after spending 10 days in the big farmhouse at Tuckaway Farm. It was glorious! It is our favorite place to stay. It was simply wonderful to be at this special place again. We are truly country folk at heart. The ripe plums hung from the tree, along with apples and pears and the most delicious grapes. There were tomatoes, peppers, squash, lettuces and melons to harvest from the garden each day.

The autumn sunned warmed our backs as we practiced ponding once again. We added "porching" to our activities. We were able to share this place with good friends, Dan'l, Val, Jay and MaryAnn for a couple of days.

Barney the loving cat, who was here in 2003 greeted us along with Luna, the new black lab. Luna loves to chase balls. Barney loves lap time, especially on the porch.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Going To The Woods

June 11, 2008

So much has happened in the last few weeks. We have been to Oregon to unload and now we are in Port Townsend, Washington. I had all of my upper teeth removed. I don't recommend this unless it is absolutely necessary. Larry has had dental work.

We have enjoyed this past week alone. Well, except for the very large dog, Marcus, and 3 indoor cats that we are caring for. We have spent time on our favorite bluff overlooking the Puget Sound contemplating our next venture.....our next move....the path to take. We are wanting to do something besides just move to our next house - pet - ranch sit.

We are in a waiting mode. We are trusting in the direction showing up from a place wiser than what we would come up with inside our heads at this point. It is very tempting to grasp at straws and make something happen but since we "let go and let God" before Larry's surgery (and that experience still feels like a miracle) we are trusting in a roadmap from our Source.

We are planning to leave here next week headed to Oregon for a few days with a stop in Roseburg to look around and work in our storage unit. Then we think we'll take a little camping trip. Most likely down the coast. The ocean is always a good place for us to be quiet and still and open. We have long dreamed of spending more time on the Oregon Coast. We may even go to Ocean Cove, where we went on our honeymoon in 1981.

After that we are headed to Grass Valley, the gold country. We are actually considering mining for the summer. I can't believe we are considering this at our age but hey, we met our dear friend Hubert while he was mining at the bridge when he is 67. Larry only just had hip replacement surgery 4 months ago. It has been years since we mined and we aren't really sure where to begin but we trust that if it's meant to be it will feel easy and we'll find our way in a very relaxed, healthy and positive way. We would certainly both be in better shape after a summer of mining.

We have spent the week writing and talking about our next move. "Two roads diverged in the wood" and we have certainly taken the road less traveled, more often than not over the last 29 years. We have always dreamed of writing a book about our mining adventures. This would give us an opportunity to be in the places where we used to mine and to do some filming and take photos. It would be an opportunity to have the real experience instead of just remembering.

Right now we are practicing being present in the moment; with ourselves, our surroundings and each other.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Oregon Territory

May 18, 2008

Well, tomorrow is the day we load our wagon and head to the Oregon Territory. Actually, 2 wagons if you count the 26 ft. U-Haul that Larry will drive, with me following in the MPV. It has been a good time in Seattle but we are ready to move on. This feels like a very significant move......more than the rest, except, for when we both left Lawrence Livermore Labs back in 1981 and then when we were first "homeless" after leaving the apartment in 1997.

We roll off into the unknown this summer. I tend to always want my ducks in a row. I try to make things happen and control our living situation but not this time. I have read the housesit ads but I haven't even been tempted to answer one. I remember how miraculous and wonderful this assignement in Seattle came to us. It has met our needs in such a powerful way and we didn't have to make this happen. Besides I can't seem to find my ducks so I can line them up. The old ducks flew away.

We are both open to the unknown possibilites and the excitement of discovery with regard to what the our future holds.

Monday, May 05, 2008

So Long Seattle

Well, our time in Seattle is coming to a rather abrupt end. After signing on for what we thought was a 1 to 2 year assignment, the homeowner is separating from her husband and moving back to Seattle. So much for E-Harmony.

We have had a good time here. Larry was able to have a total hip replacement in February. We were close enough that I could go to the hospital each day and it's been convenient for our trips back and forth in order for Larry to see doctors and physical therapists. It has been a huge blessing to have this housesit during this time.

We finally got our chance to live in the city. Seattle is divided into small communities within the city with names like Green Lake, Fremont, Crown Hill, Queen Anne Hill and Ballard, which is where we are. We can catch a bus right out front and be downtown in 20 minutes. That part has been an adventure. We found a wonderful spiritual community in Seattle at the downtown Unity Church.

We will not miss all of the traffic rolling by right out front and all of the buses. We won't miss the 8 months of rain, cold and cloudy days, one right after the other that we have just experienced. We are leaving just as we can finally expect some sun. We will miss all of the doggies that go by here by the droves each day. Everyone in this part of town walks their dogs to Sunset Park and they go by this house. Dogs of every size and description parade by during the morning and evening. The sight of happy dogs going by brings joy to our hearts.

What's next for us? Another housesit? We don't really know.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Do What You Love: Time is Too Short to do Anything Else....

Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Computer and Pixar Animation Studios, delivered a truly inspirational commencement address to some 5,000 Stanford University graduates. Without further adieu, his message:

"I am honored to be with you today at your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. I never graduated from college. Truth be told, this is the closest I've ever gotten to a college graduation. Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That's it. No big deal. Just three stories.

The First Story is About Connecting the Dots.

I dropped out of Reed College after the first 6 months, but then stayed around as a drop-in for another 18 months or so before I really quit. So why did I drop out?

It started before I was born. My biological mother was a young, unwed college graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife.

Except that when I popped out they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl. So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking: 'We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?' They said: 'Of course.' My biological mother later found out that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would someday go to college.

And 17 years later I did go to college. But I naively chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working-class parents' savings were being spent on my college tuition.
After six months, I couldn't see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn't interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting.

It wasn't all romantic. I didn't have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends' rooms, I returned coke bottles for the 5¢ deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on. Let me give you one example:

Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed.

Because I had dropped out and didn't have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can't capture, and I found it fascinating.

None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, it's likely that no personal computer would have them.

If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.

Again, you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something--your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

My Second Story is About Love and Loss.

I was lucky--I found what I loved to do early in life. Woz and I started Apple in my parents' garage when I was 20. We worked hard, and in 10 years Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a $2 billion company with over 4000 employees. We had just released our finest creation--the Macintosh--a year earlier, and I had just turned 30.

And then I got fired.

How can you get fired from a company you started? Well, as Apple grew we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me, and for the first year or so things went well. But then our visions of the future began to diverge and eventually we had a falling out. When we did, our Board of Directors sided with him. So at 30 I was out. And very publicly out. What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating.

I really didn't know what to do for a few months. I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down--that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me.

I met with David Packard and Bob Noyce and tried to apologize for screwing up so badly. I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me--I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over.

Fired From Apple

I didn't see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.

During the next five years, I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar, and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife. Pixar went on to create the world's first computer animated feature film, Toy Story, and is now the most successful animation studio in the world. In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT, I returned to Apple, and the technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart of Apple's current renaissance. And Laurene and I have a wonderful family together.

I'm pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn't been fired from Apple. It was awful-tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it.

Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith. I'm convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You've got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers.

Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle.

My Third Story is About Death.

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: 'If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right.'
It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: 'If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?' And whenever the answer has been 'No' for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything--all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure--these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

Diagnosed With Cancer

About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer.
I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning, and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas. I didn't even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months.

My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor's code for prepare to die. It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you'd have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.

I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy, where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach and into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor. I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery.

I had the surgery and I'm fine now.

This was the closest I've been to facing death, and I hope it's the closest I get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept:

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it.

And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma--which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.
When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch.

This was in the late 1960s, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and Polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.

Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue.

It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: 'Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.' It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

Thank you all very much."

The Stanford (University) Report June 14, 2005

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Coincidence or Something Else?

Coincidence or Something Else?

In 1975, a man riding a moped in Bermuda was accidentally struck and killed by a taxi. One year later, the man’s brother, riding the very same moped, was killed in the very same way by the very same taxi driven by the very same driver -- and carrying the very same passenger.

Twin brothers Jim Lewis and Jim Springer were separated at birth and adopted by different families. Unknown to each other, both were named James, both owned a dog named Toy, both married women named Linda, both had a son they names James Alan, and both eventually divorced and got remarried to a woman named Betty.

Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, and John Adams helped to edit and hone it. The Continental Congress approved the document on July 4, 1776. Both Jefferson and Adams died on July 4, 1826 -- exactly 50 years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

A German mother who photographed her infant son in 1914 left the film to be developed at a store in Strasbourg, but was unable to collect the film picture when World War I broke out. Two years later she bought a film plate in Frankfurt, over 100 miles away, and took a picture of her newborn daughter -- only to find, when developed, the picture of her daughter superimposed on the earlier picture of her son. The original film, never developed, had been mistakenly labeled as unused and resold.

In 1858, Robert Fallon was shot dead by fellow poker players who accused him of cheating to win a $600 pot. None of the other players were willing to take the now unlucky $600, so they found a new player to take Fallon’s place, who turned the $600 into $2,200 in winnings. At that point, the police arrived and demanded that the original $600 be given to Fallon’s next of kin -- only to discover that the new player was Fallon’s son, who had not seen his father in seven years.

In the 19th century, the famous horror writer Egdar Allan Poe wrote a book called ‘The narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym.’ It was about four survivors of a shipwreck who were in an open boat for many days before they decided to kill and eat the cabin boy whose name was Richard Parker. Some years later, in 1884, the yawl, Mignonette, foundered, with only four survivors, who were in an open boat for many days. Eventually the three senior members of the crew killed and ate the cabin boy. The name of the cabin boy was Richard Parker.

In 1930s Detroit, a man named Joseph Figlock was to become an amazing figure in a young (and, apparently, incredibly careless) mother’s life. As Figlock was walking down the street, the mother’s baby fell from a high window onto Figlock. The baby’s fall was broken and Figlock and the baby were unharmed. A year later, the same baby fell from the same window, again falling onto Mr. Figlock as he was passing beneath. Once again, both of them survived the event.

In 1973, actor Anthony Hopkins agreed to appear in “The Girl From Petrovka”, based on a novel by George Feifer. Unable to find a copy of the book anywhere in London, Hopkins was surprised to discover one lying on a bench in a train station. It turned out to be George Feifer’s own annotated (personal) copy, which Feifer had lent to a friend, and which had been stolen from his friend’s car.

In Monza, Italy, King Umberto I went to a small restaurant for dinner, accompanied by his aide-de-camp, General Emilio Ponzia-Vaglia. When the owner took King Umberto’s order, the King noticed that he and the restaurant owner were virtual doubles, in face and in build. Both men began discussing the striking resemblance between each other and found many more similarities.

1. Both men were born on the same day, of the same year (March 14, 1844).2. Both men had been born in the same town.3. Both men married a woman with same name, Margherita.4. The restaurateur opened his restaurant on the same day that King Umberto was crowned King of Italy.5. On the 29th July 1900, King Umberto was informed that the restaurateur had died that day in a mysterious shooting accident, and as he expressed his regret, an anarchist in the crowd then assassinated him.

While American novelist Anne Parrish was browsing bookstores in Paris in the 1920s, she came upon a book that was one of her childhood favorites -- Jack Frost and Other Stories. She picked up the old book and showed it to her husband, telling him of the book she fondly remembered as a child. Her husband took the book, opened it, and on the flyleaf found the inscription: “Anne Parrish, 209 N. Weber Street, Colorado Springs.” It was Anne’s very own book.

Are these instances merely coincidence, or are they something more? It all depends on how you look at it.