Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Watching the ads

As some may have noticed there are little Google ads placed on the border. They don't come with the blog but are added. Each click and page read creates a fraction of a cent credit, which since I have two kids scarily close to college, is designated their way and as I tell them, every cent will help. But that is not the topic.

As I add another post I watch how the ads change. Because my topics often are about something in the Berkshires the ads will often be about the tourism in the Berkshires, which I am always happy to promote. But when I write about rocks or roads I see ads for paving or if I mention a church then christian retreat centers pop up or if I mention some other things I may see a dating service ad pop up. So with this post about ads I won't be surprised to see ads pop up about advertising or on any of the subjects I have just mentioned. I am very much someone who likes to observe behavior, whether it be in people, nature or in this case a software designed to "think".

So if you see the ads just know I have no control over what they are other than through the posts I write. If an ad comes up and stays that I don't want I can either take it down completely or write something different to get Google thinking in a different direction. So feel free to click away on the ads and know that the results are going to a good cause.

Its a gorgeous summer day in western Massachusetts and the Berkshires. Still a little on the humid which make the morning runs more of a challenge but I'll day this over the down pours or February snow any day.

Be well and be at peace

Friday, July 25, 2008

Yes I am a rock …..but I am more

Going through some old writing I found this that I did almost 6 years to the day.  Whew........As I read through it what struck me most was that most recently the words don't come as freely. They are stuck behind the wall of stress that I have built up and have recently begun chiseling away.  My goal is that that wall will be gone and the words will flow again.  Meanwhile I'll remind myself periodically of how it was.

July 25, 2008

As you walk along the beach you know me as a rock, a stone….one of a pile tossed by the waves or stranded on the beach. You pick me up and I am smooth and wet. Yes I am a rock …..but I am more.

I am of the body of the earth; I am of the water that is life.

When you hold me you hold time, for how you see me now is not how I have always been. I am part of the greater body broken off by the waves, moved around in the currents of life.

I have been carried by the waters that feed life and have held death and I have become one of many in the sand and the sea. My texture shows my ancestry; my veins and colors my beginning and my source; of how I was part of the body.

To know me you must understand my journey… the waves and storms that have carried me here and how I have become one with this community.

When you hold me truly look at me and feel me. I am one of many; all of different sizes, shapes and colors yet we have all been through much of the same. We are all part of the body and we have been carried by the waves; my rough edges smoothed, my sharp edges calmed by time.

When you hold me you hold time……I am the beginning and the end.

The waters that have smoothed me hold joy……. sadness…… despair….. hope…life….death. As you hold me you hold all that have touched these waters and you are connected to them all.

I am of the whale; I am of the gull; I am of the seal that feeds near the shore and of the fish that swim in the waves; I am of the child splashing in the waves; I am of the sailor lost at sea; I am of the creatures of the deep; I am the algae that feeds life; I am of them all and more.

As you hold me think of all that has touched these waters and have touched me; for you are part of us all. You too are part of the whole and like you I will someday become the sand and return fully back to the earth from where we have all come.

Jeff-in-the Berkshires (c)

Monday, July 21, 2008


I was at a retreat for a board that I am on. The site was a small chapel with retreat center about 10 minutes from my house. Surprisingly the retreat was 15 minutes of business and 2 hours of quiet time to play with clay, write or do what ever and reflect.

To quietly wander around a meadow.....sunset is coming

little chapel by the meadow........peaceful.

The brightness of the light along the paths.....a time to be in silence and quiet or not.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Giving Feedback

I had spent some time in the pre-dawn hours this morning working on an entry that had been ruminating around my neurons the past couple of days. It was about the kernels of learning that come from times of challenge. I will refine that passage a bit and perhaps post it later but what has become especially meaningful to me is what brought me the point of being focused on this in as a constructive path.

I have been working on a major project at work; something that has a significant amount of pressure on successfully completing and on an absolutely unreasonably tight timetable. Fortunately my organization is conscious of these points and is grateful for what I able to accomplish. This is unique in many ways and a reason why I work where I do.

Last week I was coaching a colleague on a part of this project that she was being asked to do. New to the organization and familiar with only a narrow aspect, she commented that it was so great that I had an obvious understanding and picture of the full scope of the project and how the various processes should work, even if I didn’t think I did or didn’t know all the nut and bolts.

Obviously it made me feel good in that people who didn’t completely know what I was doing could recognize the talent and work necessary to accomplish it and stepped up and said something. It was different than being recognized for a the task that had been accomplished, it was recognizing the thought that was going in behind it.

We all like feedback and when it is good it make us feel good about ourselves and what we have done and perhaps validates conscious decisions we have made.

But do we always give it to others or do we assume that they already know what we might say or do we assume that others will do it or are we on the shy side when it comes to this and don’t want to bring attention to ourselves. It’s different from when someone does a favor or something good that warrants praise. It’s an acknowledgment of a special thought that goes into an action. Something that often goes unnoticed but shouldn't.

For the past month or so I have been observing myself on this and yes I do notice things, find myself thinking these thoughts but more often than I am now comfortable with, I also was letting the opportunity to comment pass. I have decided that this is not a good thing and it is on my "things to accomplish list".

A few weeks ago a friend was sharing challenges of parenting but also shared an interest one of his kids had developed. It was not a mainstream interest but it was something that was opening up avenues of creativity and contact through the web where his could demonstrate a competency and talent without face to face contact. Given the opportunity to see some of his work I chose to mention something about it when I saw him next. While his shyness was out front I could see something beaming in him as he quietly shared more. This morning I was listening to someone do a reading and at one point between passages he paused for what is a long time, 30 seconds. It was enough time for people to begin to squirm. But that was the purpose, to bring people listening out of their comfort zone for a few seconds. I though at first of letting it go by but then thought that he obviously had put though into his delivery and the impact of silence on meditation and stepped forward to comment on it.

So my mission, and I invite visitors here to this mission, is notice not just when someone does something good or a favor, BUT notice when someone does something that is motivated by a conscious thought of what they are doing with the objective of spreading good in the world or increasing a greater consciousness. Step out of your comfort zone and share with them that you noticed and that you appreciate it.

I know how I have felt when I get it and also how I feel when I share it and it gets more comfortable the more you do and find you are tuning in in a different way.

Thursday, July 17, 2008


In the past year it seems that I have come in contact with a lot more people in some sort of negative physical condition. I wanted to first say illness but that word didn’t seem to cover it. People with cancer of all types- lung, brain, prostate, ovarian, skin, pancreatic; folks managing serious vision issues, a child with Crohn’s, with brain injuries, with autism; someone with shingles, people with depression. Whew………………….

To initially meet these people you would never have a clue what is really going on…..what happens in those private moments or what is going through their minds and the minds of the parents of those kids. They carry themselves with immense grace and life.

By no means do I criticize those in similar situations who openly express their distress – we are all different and cope differently. But I am amazed and then again not amazed by the many people who have serious issues going on in their lives and by the way they carry themselves, you would never know it. It is not that they have become resigned to their fate. To the contrary those who I know are very much determined to prevail and are on various levels frightened, get discouraged and experience “why me”. But they have not stopped embracing life, not pushing ahead each day, pushing aside the physical and emotional pain enough so that it does not define them. I knew someone who had been though a few sudden job losses and had also gone through some serious medical issues and he shared that you just put your head down and move forward, little by little, and sometime day by day hour by hour. You pick yourself up when you stumble but you don’t let the stumbles define who you are. You continue to admire the sunrises, be at awe with a sunset or the night blaze of the Milky Way. You pray, you laugh, you cry and you embrace the life that you have as imperfect as it is, give thanks for all that is good and seek guidance and support through the rough spots.

I take lessons from these experiences and from these people. You sometimes haven’t a clue what is really going on with someone when you see them. Appearance are very deceptive and sometimes the people who are the calmest and nicest and most genuine are the people with the most number of issues going on with themselves or those they love. Be grateful for all that is good in your life. If you are healthy or your loved ones are healthy don't take that for granted. Be kind and embrace life even when it is scary to do so.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The woodpecker and the backboard

Living adjacent to forest land and a state park it is not uncommon for wildlife of different varieties to be in the neighborhood or passing through our yard. The bears, coyote, deer, turkeys, rabbits, skunks, fox and all other creatures that are just sounds in the dark. For the most part it is all about living along side nature.

One of the more interesting visitors, or should I say co-residents is a woodpecker. He can be heard in our yard, a neighbor’s or in the woods out back and he continues to do a job on a dead tree in our yard. The rhythmic sound blends with the other birds and the sound of the wind in the trees. Occasionally though this woodpecker has taken to pecking on the basketball backboard in our driveway……at between 5-6 AM. In the almost absolute silence of the morning the rat-a-tat reverberates through the neighborhood like a child banging on pots and pans. Anyone thinking they will sleep through quickly learns differently. Going out and shooing it away stops it long enough to get back inside and get settled and then he is back again.

Over and over I have climbed up to the backboard trying to figure out what it is doing. I would have thought that after pecking once and finding not bugs the bird would have moved on. It makes no sense. Is it possible for birds to have behavioral issues? Woodpeckers peck to dig out bugs and there are no metal basketball bugs. Yes there are always wasp nests tucked in the metal tubes, but the woodpecker is no where near there. There is no reflection or nothing different about the backboard other than the resonance of the material.

Having tried the practical hands on research the next step was of course “Google”. Which of course led me to an article of how woodpeckers can mark their territory during breeding season (June – July) by pecking on metal gutters to make a noise? Bingo!! This woodpecker found something much better than gutters- noise with echo.

So we just have to wait it out for July has only a few weeks left.

After solving the mystery of the woodpecker on the backboard I got to thinking about the many things we do (or have done) over and over the same way expecting a different result. Like me wondering why the woodpecker didn’t move on after one try, we sometimes do things that don’t seem to make sense – over and over. Or is it, like the woodpecker, that we do this knowing that the result won’t be different but we want attention, whether consciously or unconsciously, and that is the end result. I’ve known people who have gone in and out of relationships with others and the pattern [to me] always looks the same and the outcome is always the same and it’s not good. But they do get attention because people feel sorry for them or for how they have been treated. The same can be said about work situations or family relationships. The same tapes get played over and over hoping for something different.

I know that I have fallen prey to this behavior occasionally over the years and a while ago started to observe my “woodpecker tendency” and to consciously catch myself from repeating non productive patterns and try to notice the unconscious attention getters. As far as the conscious attention getters, well they of course have their place.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Change and the Waves

There are a few places where I really enjoy being and one of them is outer part of Cape Cod. The absolute opposite end of Massachusetts from where I call home its terrain is so much different, the light is so much brighter the breezes off the ocean are so constant. The waves are noisy but as soothing as the sound of the wind. The sands are always changing with each wave and each tide.

Yes, my perspective is that of a visitor, though a visitor for many more decades than I prefer to count. It’s probably similar to those who come to the Berkshires and experience life only on vacation and glow about how carefree life must be not have to with the mundane frustrations of finding nearby employment not being able to spend as if you were on vacation and the choices urbanites take for granted. Yet because I live in a place that also has many second home owners and where it springs to life in the summer, where you have to drive distances for things and have the challenges and delights of tourists. So I can appreciate the Cape from a different place, though our idea of tourist traffic is keeping away from Tanglewood on concert day, not the more constant crush of people every day.

This year as we only had a couple of days to visit we had the traditional things we do as a family, places we return to but always add something new. One of my traditions is getting up early (which is normal for me) and being down by the beach walking or running. It isn’t always the same beach, the choice is made once I get in the car. What I have noticed in these times is how differently change is measured. In the hills and in the woods we are very seasonally focused, for very obvious reasons. At the beach, which here I distinguish from the Cape as an area, change seems measured with almost every wave and every tide. Sand shifts, rocks move, some dunes have eroded, new channels are carved – the changes are so subtle but when you aren’t used to them you notice them. This time I noticed much change but it was all so minor on its own that it felt similar and not at the same time.

I guess that is the way it is with most change. It depends on your perspective, it depends on how close up you are to it or not. If you are able to step back you can see the progress of change. Not necessarily all good, but the progression just the same.

So I leave that place too soon, but with lots of perspective and thoughts and pockets full of rocks which I will write about soon. Seeing change is about slowing down to notice, changing perspective to see.

Friday, July 4, 2008

5K with 900 friendly runners

27:50 minutes - YEAH!!!!!! Placing 581 out of 880. ( finishing in the top 60%)

May sound slow to some but given I started running in March its my best time yet.

The Pittsfield Independence Day Run is unique in that it proceeds one of the largest 4th of July parades in the country. Yes Pittsfield. The race runs the parade route which is lined by 10s of thousands of spectators. That in itself is motivation and keep on running. On to the next race.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Independence Day

As July 4th approaches I prefer to think of it as Independence Day rather than just the date.

On that day I celebrate the independent spirit that founded this country and continues in so many different ways. I will also celebrate:

the independence of the human spirit that expresses itself in so many different and glorious and sometimes complicated ways;

the strive for independence of those who are disabled both physically and mentally;

the challenging independence of children and teens who keep us on our toes and keep us from becoming stale and stagnant, let alone old;

the determination for independence by those who are burdened by various sources of adversity;

the courage of seeking independence of identity by those whom western society considers different – gays, transgender, lesbians;

the independence of those who seek and find spiritual sustenance in what ever way they succeed.

In all these ways and many more I celebrate this great Independence Day…….We are bless by the diversity of independence that is around us.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Life and the new camera

I think on some level I am exhausted working on a project list at work that should have been spread over 3-4 months but for various reasons has been condensed into 1. Throw in getting ready for vacation and planning for a spouse birthday in a few days and you have the picture of what is going on. Addrenine is an interesting substance and it seems to work well to get me successfully trough phases such as this. Tomorrow is the last work day before vacation adding to the craziness of at least launching enough projects that will be churnned by others for the next week and land back to me in a different, hopefully advanced form when I return.

I have learned over the past year not to write, at least for this blog, when I am very tired. I tend to complain more and give off a more negative perception that I later regret. I also limit my desriptions of work when talking with family and friends in general. This is my down cycle on the work roller coaster but I know that it will again go up and the rush, again from the addrenilin, really triggers my ADD tenancies, making for a wild ride but keeps me juggling, passing off and taking on over a dozen of so balls without dropping a one.

So for today I will let some new photos be my voice. My new camera is working, all connected and I know a little of how to work it. It is a welcome respite. Camera, cord and memory card and I've kept it below $25 and as I've researched, the camera was a steal.

Friday is my first 5k. I figure if I can now run 5-6 miles without stopping I can at least finish the race. So if I can keep the addrenilin going 'til then I'm probably fine. Then by Saturday I'll crash. But then it is off to the Cape for several days. Yeah! Perhaps we will meet some folks known only by name from the Caleb blog, but I guess that will be by chance.