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It’s Dark Outside

Old Fashioned at Paydirt in Portland, Oregon. Camera: iphone XR

Every year around this time, I get a little grumpy. It’s nothing too serious, just the general sense of doom and gloom that descends over the Pacific Northwest this time of year. You would think I would be used to it after nearly four decades, but it sneaks up on me every time and is particularly bad this year. I am finding that I have to pry myself out of bed in the darkness of the morning and muster the discipline to do the things that bring purpose into my life. It’s a first-world problem, mind you, but a problem nonetheless.

Before the end of December, I usually get busy reflecting on the prior year. I have done things like summarizing what I’ve accomplished and reflected on where I’ve gone awry. I have developed goals for the upcoming year, sometimes created annual themes, or picked a single word to encompass the tenor for the next 365 days. There always seems to be a resolution or anti-resolution peppered in there. But none of it seems to matter much right now. We are all just trying to get through our daily lives, and the only thing that I feel nowadays is a sense of openness. Good or bad, come what may.

After living through nearly two years of this pandemic, the one thing that I know for sure is that my heart is much more elastic than I ever realized. My capacity to love people has grown more expansive than ever. And at this point, I feel so deferential to love as a default state of being that I sometimes worry my friends will really start to question my sanity. They tend to be much better champions of my heart than I am. So often, I am blind to people’s faults or intentions, including my own!

But I don’t know what else to do in the dead of winter, faced with another year of uncertainty. The only thing that makes sense is to test the boundaries of my heart and my capacity to give even more than I have in 2021. I cannot think of what else I am better at. And I can’t think of a better way to get myself out of the grip of these dark winter days.

I hope we all let our hearts expand a little on the other side of this winter solstice. Our outer worlds may seem smaller than ever, but our inner worlds can be as large and expansive as our imagination.

Sunday Dispatches

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