A Poet’s Work

A Poets Work

When words fail, that’s when the poet goes to work.

Describe a scene. Relate a feeling. Evoke a mood. Any passable writer, any literate person, really, can paint those experiential portraits with some degree of success. We do it every day. So much talking. So much describing. It never stops. It began before we emerged and will continue long after we’re departed. Relating that fact as well as it can be said:

“To the as-yet unborn, to all innocent wisps of undifferentiated nothingness: Watch out for life.

I have caught life. I have come down with life. I was a wisp of undifferentiated nothingness, and then a little peephole opened quite suddenly. Light and sound poured in. Voices began to describe me and my surroundings. Nothing they said could be appealed. They said I was a boy named Rudolph Waltz, and that was that. They said the year was 1932, and that was that. They said I was in Midland City, Ohio, and that was that.

They never shut up. Year after year they piled detail upon detail. They do it still. You know what they say now? They say the year is 1982, and that I am fifty years old.

Blah blah blah.”  ~ kurt vonnegut (from deadeye dick)

But, when the moment begins to cross over into the sublime,
When the never resting humming bird, with its 250 breaths per minute, its 1260 heart beats per minute, its 70 wing flaps per second, pauses a moment to look you dead in the eye – and stays until you surrender the idea of happenstance,
When the beach grass dances ever so gently with the faintest kiss of breeze,
When the sunlight refracts on the sea, breaking into millions of sparkling, dancing diamonds daring you to try to look away

When the chatter of the work-a-day mind subsides because you are listening instead to the symphony of birdsong, shore-song, and faint, distant, distant murmur of commerce

When your heart begins to expand into nature’s unstill stillness,

When every feeling turns from feeling into knowing, knowing you are on the brink of this holy moment,
Knowing you are in the midst, on the brink, and then in the midst again of this holy moment.

When words begin to fail, the poet begins to work.

© Leisa LaDell Ashbaugh 2017

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Sidewalk adornment

natures confetti

I am only 9 days into this 100 challenge to create and share something artistic everyday (I chose 3 line poems), and already it has changed my default thoughts completely. I now find myself looking at the world with keener eyes, and thinking in poetic phrases that might express my experience.

Quite a shift from the defaults of judgement, assessing threat, creating strategies for doing, insufficiency and “shouldn’t be-ness” that are the default flavor of thoughts in the playground of my mind.

Now instead, I take the dog for a walk and think of things like this. Blending what I learned at a recent retreat, with this practice of daily poems, I can hardly wait to see what gifts unfold over the remaining 100 days.

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Guru in my shoe – #100Daysof3LinePoems Day 5

Every pebble is my teacher

Guru in my shoe

Each step enlightenment


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Life and business on a human scale

The scene

I’m at a conference center near Denver. It’s the last day. I know a fellow attendee and I are on the same flight and she has reserved the shuttle, with her as the sole passenger. I call to add myself to the reservation, same van, same time, same location, same destination. Expected cost $60+.

The action

The agent is asking about how much luggage and how many are checked. I just happen to mention I have skis.

Her: “Actual skis? Any you are going to check them?”

Me: “Yes, it’s fine. The airline doesn’t mind. I checked them on the way down, and will check them on the way back.”

Her: “Well, with skis we have to send a special van, so that will be $279.”

Me: laugh “That’s absurd.” “You have a van coming and only one other passenger. The skis are in a bag, and will easily fit in the van. I’m not traveling with a whole ski team.”

Her: “I’m sorry, that’s the policy.”

Me: “So I can’t ride with my friend in the nearly empty van you are already sending?”

Her: “No.” Me: “That’s absurd.” (I didn’t bother with goodbye).

Of course it worked out, and I got a better ride that cost me nothing.

Policy vs people

Business owners and managers, I understand the need for “policy”, I really do. But when you don’t hire people who you can train and trust to empower them for real-life circumstances, you are creating a less workable, less kind, less human world. And, you are losing business. For good. And in the changing landscape of transportation options with Uber, Lyft and the rest, can you really afford to be so dogmatic in your business model? That’s retorhical – I think not.


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You know when Life starts changing on you?

And not in directions that you have charted or would have consciously chosen?

And you feel all drifty, like in a row boat in the ocean, except you never really intended to being doing a solo circumnavigation of the globe, even in a well-equipped yacht, let alone some rickety thing barely fit for a pond?

So you forgot the charts, compass, survival suit, and emergency rations; and everything else you have always relied on is really just a memory, nowhere closer than the moon?

And the sea may be calm, but you know it could change drastically, dramatically in an instant?

And when it does, all you will have to face it is you; your wits, your heart, your will?

Ya. Me. Now. Like that.

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On Longing

long·ing [lawng-ing, long-]
1. strong, persistent desire or craving, especially for something unattainable or distant: filled with longing for home.

This, my time of longing
This, my time of growth
This, my time of expanse and insight
This, my time of connection
with truth of me and why

This, my time of longing
This, my time of freedom
repreave from fear and doubt
This is my time of Spirit moving
unburdened by distraction within, without

Breathe deep this time of longing
Feel full this expanse of time
Live complete this moment of ache and solace
Exist whole in every and each universe
Anchor firm the allness and isness of now

Abandon absolute
one moment of now, and now, and now

This, my foundation
This, my root
This, my ground

From this ground, expanse
From this moment, eternity
From this longing, fulfillment

This, my time of longing

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Meet the Multitudinous Andrea – One Word Wednesday

Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes. ~ Walt Whitman

Andrea is one of those amazing people that were it not for Twitter, I would never have met, even though she lives nearby –  just a few miles South of my home in Seattle.

How we made our exact connection is fuzzy. But what’s clear is this: I saw a few of her tweets, and followed. I was intrigued by her grace and wisdom. I clicked and read further, and I was hooked. I reached out, we chatted, we met. And suddenly I was delighted and blessed to have a new friend.

In a world of blogging and business that’s constantly giving the message that in order to succeed one must focus, define your message and your market, and speak very specifically to one topic, one segment, Andrea’s blog – A Multitude of Things – is delightfully, unabashedly multitudinous.

When I think of Andrea, I’m reminded of this quote:

To be nobody-but-yourself — in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else — means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.
~  e e cummings

Andrea is most assuredly herself. And if she’s fighting, she makes it look effortless.

What’s the one thing you know about words?

Words are amazing.
They travel in our consciousness and stick there. If you don’t agree, just think back to the last time your mother’s voice came out of your mouth! Words have the ability to shift perspectives and change lives. They can pick you up or drag you down. They can paint incredible pictures. They can describe you and your innermost self. I speak two languages and am always surprised when I find a word in one language that captures feelings or concepts that are almost impossible to translate directly in the other language. Simply amazing.

What one word describes you and why?

I am happiest when I am playing with ideas – either on my own behalf or for others. I am especially delighted when my ideas are able to inspire others or give them a fresh view on something that has been troubling them. My friends are used to getting emails from me that start with, “hey, what do you think about this idea?”

What one word describes your mission, or your message (and why)?

Too often, we seem to choose a path of struggle, divisiveness, or negativity in our lives when it would be just as easy to choose joy. Joy can be found in a moment. Why not choose it? After a while, all those joyful moments add up to a lifetime of joy.

What one word would you give to your audience – like a superpower (and why)?

I believe in the power of dreaming. Dreams are the messengers that allow us to consider different possibilities for ourselves and can send us on delicious journeys of discovery. I strongly recommend having at least good “dreaming” session a day. It only takes a moment and can be done while waiting at the doctor’s office, standing in line to pick the mail, or, savoring a cup of coffee.

What’s your “go to” word? The one that you can always count on to rock your day, or to turn the moment around if you are not on your game?

It’s all good.
I suppose that’s really three words but, when I hear them or say them, I am re-invigorated and soothed at the same time.

Say a little bit about the role that words and language play in your life and your work.

Being bilingual, words have always fascinated me. Their ability to express different thoughts and emotions. Their ability to tell stories. From the moment I learned to read, words became my constant companions. As a child, I often got in trouble in school because I was so engrossed in what I was reading that I completely missed that the teacher had moved on to a different subject. I love words.

Any last words about the power of words?

Choose wisely.
There are so many words out there that we can put in our mouths. Pick the best ones. The ones that will lift you up. The ones that will give others wings.

Andrea helps people fuel their creativity in a multitude of ways. You can follow her on Twitter. Learn more about Andrea and her work at her blog.


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Meet Denese and Get Thoughtful – One Word Wednesday

Denese and I “met” online a few months back when we both participated in a 31 Days to a Better Blog challenge sponsored by Lisbeth Tanz.

Sharing a common love of words, good content and conversation, we hit it off immediately and have been twitter-buds ever since.

On her blog, Thoughtful Content, Denese weaves her knowledge of design, architecture, marketing, yoga, and social media into a delightful mix of information and insights that always leaves me uplifted, enlightened and wanting more.

In this interview, we had the chance to sit back and get thoughtful about words.

What’s one thing you know about words?

I believe that if we really understood how much power words have, we’d pay a lot more attention to what we say, write and think.

What one word describes you (and why)?

I’ve been called optimistic… But, I’d like to think that has more to do with being open to possibilities and other perspectives than always seeing the bright side.  A friend can come to me with pretty much any problem.  I go immediately into “let’s look at all the possibilities here… let’s make peace with best-case and worse-case scenario…let’s get to the heart of the issue…  then let’s think about next steps…”

What one word describes your mission, or your message (and why)?

I’d like to encourage people to embrace their creativity, to find their unique voice (or communication platform) and live their life, build their business from that place.  One of the things I love about blogging is that it’s given us a worldwide exercise for finding your point of differentiation. Whether you’re blogging for personal or business reasons, the relationship building aspect of it only works when you’re connecting naturally, as you are, listening, truly caring. The best relationships are formed when you’re yourself, not who you think you should be. Any exercise that encourages that is okay in my book.

What one word would you give to your audience – like a superpower (and why)?

Awareness that they have a superpower within them already…  one they can tap into whenever they’re wondering who they are, what direction to take, what decision to make. One that knows exactly what it takes to make them happy, what they were meant to do in this life.  I don’t want them to struggle to find it anymore.   I want them to simply tap into the power they already have and let it create the happy life they were meant to have.

What’s your ‘go to’ word? The one that you can always count on to rock your day, or turn to the moment around if you are not on your game?

Yoga has given me a whole new appreciation for dancers and athletes who can make something so physically difficult look so easy. Through my practice, I’ve learned that strength comes first, then lightness and flexibility – which has been a helpful mantra whenever I’m uncertain or feeling clumsy about life in general. I try to gather strength by staying grounded in gratitude for everything I already have… while staying open to the possibilities and lessons life is throwing at me. Typically you’re naturally strong, or naturally flexible…the challenge is cultivating and balancing both. It’s not easy and I’m not always successful, but I feel better considering everything that happens as an opportunity to practice grace.

Say a little about the role that words and language play in your life and your work.

Our words shape our perspective and experiences, not just in what we write or say, but in our thoughts about ourselves and others. I think The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz sums it up nicely. If we can strive to 1) be impeccable with our word, 2) not take things personally, 3) not make assumptions, and 4) always do our best, we’d prevent a lot of heartache and produce a lot more happiness.

Any last words about the power of words?

My 13-year old niece wanted to write a list of “64 Things I Love about Grandma.” We got to #6 and she said, “It’s hard to find the words to describe what I’m feeling.”

It’s important to recognize that finding the right words is hard.  Acknowledging this takes some of the pressure off… Having a practice, or a way that helps you get to the heart of you want to say is essential. Going for a walk helps me. I’m also intrigued by the 750words.com exercise. I like the online format vs writing in my journal.  I can crank out 750 words of random thoughts, ideas, lists in about 25 minutes.

It’s kind of magical how it works. Getting all of that out of my head, first thing in the morning, really does help me find the right words when I sit down to write something more “productive” later in the day.

Dense helps companies get thoughtful and create meaningful marketing content at Thoughtful Content. You can follow her on Twitter @Denese_Bottrell.


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Meet Sandi and Get Ready to Shine – One Word Wednesday

I’m very excited to introduce the official launch of my new series – One Word Wednesday.

For me, it’s a perfect culmination of passions colliding. A trifecta of things I love: connecting people, playing with & sharing the power of words, and with any luck, serving up a dose of inspiration on the side.

As the inaugural interview, I’m proud to introduce you to Sandi Faviell Amorim. Her regular readers know her as authentic, courageous, challenging and insightful.  I know her as blog buddy (a conversation we had early last year launched both our blogs), inspiration, fellow word lover and dear friend. She’s a woman with something to say, and if she has her way, you will shine.

What one word describes you(and why)?

I’ve often been told that I’m too intense, but I’ve come to see this as a very good thing. When I commit to something, I give myself fully; it’s a way of living life that feels most authentic and fulfilling for me. Also, being a fellow wordie, I like that its synonyms are more words I love:  fervent, passionate, ardent, strong!

What one word describes your mission, or your message(and why)?

I love helping people shine! It’s not altruistic – it’s me following my bliss, a total win/win. Here’s why: Starbursts, Sirens and Siriously Shining

What one word would you give to your audience – like a superpower (and why)?

We mostly take life so seriously. Lighten up and play more. At the end of your life do you want to be remembered for how hard you worked or how much joy you squeezed out of life?

What’s your ‘go to’ word? The one that you can always count on to rock your day, or turn the moment around if you are not on your game?

I believe that all our emotions are sourced from love or fear. That’s it. And because it comes down to just two, it makes it really easy for me to choose. In my mind’s eye I see a fork in the road; one path takes me down the path of fear-based thinking and the other, leads me to love. It might sound simplified, but I think that’s good. We complicate life way too much. Love or fear. Choose.

Say a little about the role that words and language play in your life and your work.

When I was a kid I was a total bookworm, so much so that I even had a list of favourite words! Not much has changed since then 🙂 What I love most about the work I do as a coach is that it really is about words and language. It’s not rocket science, but rather a skilled way of using language. I’m fascinated by how changing just one or two words in a question alters it profoundly.

Can you share some final words of advice about words?

Your words create your reality. Choose wisely.

Sandi Faviell Amorim is a straight-talkin’, relentlessly curious, intense and playful instigator. She helps people shine at Deva Coaching.


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Kindness, courtesies, and the little things [Week 2 – 50 weeks of 50]

I remember as a child being taught that it was very important to be kind.

As I neared school-age, the importance of kindness was impressed ever and ever more urgently upon me. Being a youngster, I don’t think I really understood what kindness was, but I knew it was sort of like being nice (pleasant, agreeable).  So – especially when adults were around – I made a point to try to be ‘nice.’ Perhaps not as fake as Eddie Haskel in the old Leave It To Beaver TV series, but still, if I may have lacked in a naturally benevolent nature, kindness was a veneer that I very much knew I was expected to show.

That strategy, formed and practiced in primary school,  seemed to work well at keeping me in good graces of teachers and parents. And thus I went on in life with hardly another thought about kindness – it was something I had mastered, after all – until now.

Unbidden, I noticed a lot of little kindnesses this week.

Mundane, commonplace courtesies, but somehow they struck me deeply. A driver stops for a pedestrians to walk, when five before have driven by.  A man opens and holds the door for me with a nod. My friend calls from the store to see if there is anything I need before she comes over. With each of these, I smiled and said a heartfelt “thank you” – but when I realize how deeply they’ve touched me,  I wonder if thank you is enough.

As I move into my 5th decade of life, it seems I am suddenly much more aware of how precious these little kindnesses are – both in the giving and receiving.

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.  ~Plato

Perhaps it is because I have experienced first-hand the comfort of having a stranger offer “let me help you with that” when I am having a particularly hard day. And I’ve also experienced the cold-slap to the soul when someone shows indifference or contempt, when they could have just as easily shown courtesy. Or even perhaps, it’s because somehow along the way, that adolescent veneer of ‘niceness’ has ripened into a genuine kindness of heart that I now see in others, as I carry it in myself. Whatever the reason, the difference is –  I no longer take these courtesies for granted.

I’ve always believed the world to be a big, wonderful, beautiful and amazing place. But it can also be harsh, demanding, scary, cold, intimidating and unforgiving.

Each of these kind moments is a precious gift, and our lives are richer, our challenges more tolerable because of them.

The best portion of a good man’s life – his little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and love.  ~ William Wordsworth

So, for every little kindness and courtesy you have shown this week, to whomever it was – I acknowledge you and thank you.

Thank you for stopping at cross walks.
Thank you for waiting for pedestrians to walk before turning right.
Thank you for holding the elevator.
Thank you for meeting my eyes and giving me a smile -however fleeting – when I’m walking my sweet, adorable dog. Thank you for acknowledging when I hold the door for you.
Thanks for waiting patiently as I back out of my parking spot, and thank you for letting me merge on to the interstate.
Thank you for returning my phone calls.
Thank you for replying to my emails when I’ve asked you a question.
I thank you all for these little things and more.

Although I am sure my mom started teaching me at 5 or younger, at 50 it seems I’m finally learning, it really is the little things that count.

Photos by Nena B. and girl.from.melbourne


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