Welcome to The Front Porch

Okay, dinner's over. The little ones are already at play in the yard. Lizzy, the devoted 'tween, is engaged in a lively game of giggle tag with the two toddlers. Braydon, while re-fitting the muffler to his dirt bike over at the side yard, is also busy pretending not to care. Grandpa has settled into his favorite lounge chair and lit his pipe. The twins are still at the dishes, noisily whispering about the recently discovered lump on Aunt Mary's left shoulder. Cool air brushes in off the nearby lake and shooes away the heat as well as the mosquitoes. The sun is heading for bed, and the long day rounds the bend towards home. There's just enough time left for a little light conversation and some good old-fashioned fellowship. So grab a seat here on the steps, or there by the old oak, and join in the discussion. Say your piece, or just while away the time listening to the chirping of the creatures hidden all about. Either way, we're here to entertain, enlighten, and encourage each other. And by the way, thanks for stopping by.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Capturing her capturing her moment

Fall colors burst from the living leaves
And excite the light of the dying weaves
of twigs and grasses and weeping trees.

All around, the space she plays in dances.
With soft, deft grace she strums her lenses
and a visual song erupts and enhances.

Life reviews the subtle point of portent,
When a girl in nature snaps beauty and torment,
and captures her capturing her precious moment.


There is a magical space
between the womb and the tomb
where the harmonies of a life
stir wonder and sorrows into a tune -
a private song, sung and lost too soon.

In this place, an unknown Hand
reaches out to steady the fall
of these melodies birthed into dying
for all who move with courage and awe
through the noise, joys, and pains of it all.

And so you are free in the last accounting
to become who you are, and sing of your bounty,
of your treasures, of your loves and lies,
fully releasing the gift of you
into the world for others' eyes.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Peter the Polar Bear - Chapter 2

Chapter 2 - The Floating Island
 An ice sheet as vast as this floats over the sea the way a glacier floats over the earth. Slowly, interminably, the ice moves ever away from its source, ever toward its destiny. Eventually it will melt into the greater ocean the way memories of long lost friends blend into new relationships. But here, under the North Star, Peter’s floating island is still a sprawling world unto its own. There’s room here to run and run and find exhaustion before finding the far edge. There are hills, canyons, and icescapes of every variety to explore, all of which Peter will enthusiastically pursue when the morning sun brings it all into glorious view. But for now the luminescent blue of midnight shimmers invites sleep. Peter huddles into a cozy hollow and drifts off into his private silence.

(to be continued....)

Peter the Polar Bear - Chapter 1

Chapter One - The Runaway
"PETERRRR" "peterrrr"; "PEEETERRR""peeeterrr". His name echoed across the ice throughout the morning as all the townsfolk showed up to assist with the search.

"That's three missing in the last month," said Miss Tyler to her twin sister, Miss Tia.

"You don't think it's like those poor little cubs whose ice broke away right out from under their momma's belly last week while they were sleeping, do you?" asked Miss Tia. "Only to find themselves half-drowned and washed up on a small sheet the next morning, nearly frozen and screaming for milk." Miss Tia was working herself up into another tizzy. She found herself worrying a lot lately. She wondered if she should start trying to eat more fish.

"No, dear. Peter is a big cub now," replied Miss Tyler. "You know how these boys are now days. I'm sure he's just run off on some adventure or other, and forgot to tell his momma."

"Yes. I'm sure you're quite right."

"Yes, that's it. Now, why don't we save our breath and let the others play his fool if they like. I'm all for a swim and a nap myself. Shall we?"

And off they went while the elders and Peter's school mates kept up the futile search. There would be no finding Peter this day. You see, the T-Twins, as they were called, had got it half right: Peter had begun an adventure; but they had missed on the scale of it...by a long shot. Peter himself had no idea what mind-blowing horizons lay ahead of him. This young runaway was about to learn the real meaning of his momma's mysterious words: "Dream big, Bear! but beware the hunger." "Hunger, Momma?" "Yes, dear. Dreams are hungry beasts; hungry like the great sperm whale. They feed on their dreamer’s gullible gusto, and grow ever insatiable to you, ever menacing to those you love." "But I don't want to menace anyone, Momma. I don't want my dreams." At this pitched and halting reaction, his momma continued: "It takes exceptional courage to chase a dream, Bear, and sacrifice. And greater courage still to stay on its trail. Everything in your everyday falls into shadow. All you love will drown under the rising tide of your dream. And so it must! little Bear. For that is the point. That is how we are led out of our false selves and into our true self."

And that is how his mother had left it. That is how Peter had managed to forestall the journey he knew he must take so effectively for so many months. But in the right soul, like seeds in the right soil, dreams will not be denied. In the end they burst forth naturally from your heart into your mind, and you carry them on your shoulders until they have your ear. And that is what happened to Peter last night after he watched the greatest ice sheet yet break away from its Arctic home and head south. Peter's dream of going south to find the legendary ice at the other end of the world to save his family and nation, at long last overcame his denials. His people were dying, his world was slowly removing from the face of the earth, and here was the solution drifting out to sea right in front of him. So he jumped. He simply lept into the lonely dark of the deep Arctic waters and swam after the large ice sheet. Peter the polar bear had decided the legend made sense. He had reasoned to himself: "Why wouldn't the world have icecaps at both ends? Why couldn't the ice there be unimaginably vaster than it is here? Why couldn't we bears migrate there like the great birds do? Why couldn't I, Peter, find the passage and lead the way?" And that ‘reasoned’ decision triggered the impulses that led to his ‘rash’ action. With the dream in his heart, and his reasons in his head, he lept, and swam, and catching up to the floating island, the reluctant run-away said a silent good-bye to his white wonderland.

Peter the Polar Bear - Prologue

(The following is a story beginning to unfold in my head.  You're welcome to preview and follow along as the chapters develop, just be aware this is a long term project.)

     The ice is melting. In every direction as far as the horizon there is ice. To the polar bear, this frozen emptiness is home. It is the only home Peter the Polar Bear knows. To Peter, melting ice means an end to his world. It is a fearful thought. Yet all his senses justify what he fears. He hears the cracking ice shelf under his feet. He smells unfamiliar scents as warmer salt waters encroach on his hunting grounds. He feels the sun's heat hanging in the air like it never did before. He tastes the coming calamity in the unforgiving southern winds. But mostly, he sees it.

     All around him, Peter's world is disappearing one treasured ice scape at a time. His family's territory, his whole living history gives way more and more each season to the rising ocean, as surely as the night gives way to the rising sun at dawn. Only there is nothing glorious about this disturbing dawning of a new age. If fact, with each passing day, each passing ice berg, despair grows deeper roots in his community, and fearful talk is on every one's tongue.

     But Peter has a plan. Or if not exactly a plan yet, he has a dream. Amidst all the turmoil and struggle, as the various groups in Polar Bear Nation realign their daily lives, a heroic vision settled in Peter's heart, relentlessly teasing at him for weeks. The notion tugged at his thinking, quieted his doubts, persistently persuaded his emotions, until just days ago now, Peter finally accepted the possibility of it. The short of it was this, Peter stopped asking why me? and started asking why not me? The dream was his, and now it was his calling to make it come true.

Monday, April 18, 2011

OTHERS: How they define us, and why we should allow it

It seems counter-intuitive, but other people's perceptions of who we are are absolutely essential to a complete and well-balanced sense of Self.  Naturally, we know ourselves as an expression of our place and our passions, but (believe it or not) we also come to know ourselves more fully through the mouths and eyes of others.

By place I mean we know ourselves as a product of our environment, our circumstances of birth, our day-to-day existence. We are what we do with the baggage of our lives.

By passions I mean we know ourselves as our dreams, our unfulfilled potential, our new and improved better versions of ourselves. We are what we aspire to become.

By perceptions in others I mean we also know ourselves as the labels others pin on us that we accept as true. A story may help clarify this point: I recently saw a web interview of Kelly Clarkson the American Idol singer. In answer to the question when did she become a singer she responded this way: (paraphasing from memory here, so bear with me) "I always sang around the house as a kid, but it was not until I was in a choir around 13 or so that I discovered that I was a singer. We would be doing scales and I would just keep going up or down the scale past the rest of the group hitting notes the others could not reach. At that point people started "telling me" I was a singer." There and then, when she accepted others' perception of her as a singer, that's when Kelly's self-identity changed from normal kid to kid singer. And so it is with us.  We are, in addition to our place and passions, the labels we allow ourselves to internalize. 

That is why it is so important to monitor carefully both the mud and the flowers flung our way. The labels we hear and heed; the identity we formulate in response to others' perceptions is surprisingly vital. 

Sunday, April 17, 2011


(This prose poem is meant to supplement the previous essays on Dreams and Voices.  I hope you enjoy it.)



Solitude and the scent of morning.
The smell of it calls to her from down the hall.
Calling her to consciousness
as the small finger of her left hand
lifts out long strands of black hair
trapped in the watery sleep at the corner of her lips.
She becomes aware of the pillow next to her:
soft, fluffy, empty.
Her two boys a dozen years or more past crawling in with her
on stormy nights.
Abandoned also by her ex, who shares pillows now with another,
in some other city, in some other state.
The one who before brewed her coffee and brought
the steaming mug to her bed replaced now by a Mr. Coffee
with an automatic timer and an alarm.
So many mornings come and gone.

Soda. Tea. Beer.

Stimulants and mood-inhibitors.
Self-awareness gives way
as she moves through her day
to socializing.
A lunch with friends, shopping,
her focus always on the other.
Sub-conscious coping strategies?
She momentarily forgets her pain, the shame
of letting her life interrupt her dreams.
Dreams too hastily misplaced in the arms of an undeserving other.
Some steps taken. Some steps forsaken.
All leading here, now.
How to restore her dreams?
A second family? Too late for that, and not quite right somehow.
An artistic work? Hmmm. But who will understand her?
What is there in self-expression that can connect her
to anything outside herself?
So many opportunities come and gone.

And so finally, Wine.

Still another day passes away.
And only the distilled spirits of a fruit to lift her spirits.
Yet Hope rises in her. Ever rising the way need rises in others.
She sees her image reflected in the robust burgundy.
And she likes what she sees.
Why shouldn't she? There is much to like.
An inviting warmth in her eyes like a hearth in a home.
A grace in her smile that belies the weight on her shoulders.
Truth and elegance in her posture. Strength and poise in her hands.
A final sip of the wine and her heart opens more deeply.
Unanalyzed dreams, visions of a better version of herself, enfold her
in a more loving embrace.
She accepts.
She moves on.
She finds her pillow, rests her eyes, and awaits her...
morning coffee.

Friday, April 15, 2011


Talk is cheap, they say.  To make your dreams come true you must act.  Unfortunately, this is a hurdle too big for many people to mount.  They simply cannot muster the energy needed to take the steps that lead to making their dreams come true.  Often, they don't even know what steps need to be taken.  And this is so I believe b/c they have the feeling that their dreams are out there ahead of them somewhere.  They are under the mistaken impression that it takes an overwhelming will and effort on their part to achieve them.

Personally, I think the process is much more natural than that. The fact is, a dream that is 'out there' has not been embodied as part of one's identity, in which case it will never be realized because it can never be reached 'out there'.

But once we make a dream a part of our identity (in the face of all factual details to the contrary), once we become that better version of ourselves in our own mind's eye, wholly committed to that description of ourselves, then the small steps we need to take flow naturally out of our being. Not to mention Providence (which favors the bold, as has been said) jumps in behind the scenes, and all manner of mysterious support comes our way.

The point is, we don't have to muster up big willfull amounts of energy and push upstream against the world to pursue our dreams. We just have to bring those dreams into our center and follow their unfolding from there, naturally and willingly.

So go ahead, dream your dreams. And then take the one and only step you ever have to willfully take, and that is: start believing that you are the person that that dream wants to manifest through.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


Voices. So powerful, the voices we give authority to motivate and guide our behaviors, or sabotage our dreams. Wittingly, or unwittingly, we do choose which voices to hear.

Out of the distant past certain voices dominate our mental landscape and shape our future. An example: you were bullied or shamed or otherwise hurt somehow by the "rich" kid in school. Now 30 years later, that is a fact of your experience and should not be buried nor denied. But the meaning you gave that experience all those years ago - that "rich kids are mean" - may now be sabotaging the very dreams and actions you could take to bring wealth and abundance into your life. After all, you don't want to be a "mean" person, so naturally, you can't become "rich."

So an experience that once was a functional advisor in your development - "sometimes people will abuse the power and resources available to them" - has now become a dysfunctional voice in your head to be wary of wealth. As a result your behaviors will produce conflicted, confused results at best, and although you dream of wealth, for instance, you will do everything in your power to avoid it b/c you have embodied and hear only a voice of fear.

Through a process of recognition and awareness (what some would call a process of forgiveness) we can come to terms with these dysfunctional voices and replace their authority with more effective and appropriate affirmations.

Our lives are an echo of the voices that rule us. Choice lies in which voices we give currency to. The key is to choose purposefully.

The Good Earth.

like sand in an hourglass
rich fertile soils pass
through a farmer's hands
marking the seasons

like troops on a parade field
seeded rows align
with sun and rain
producing fresh life

like great rooted oaks
hearty men survive
by wits and bare knuckles
sustaining souls

like ageless gladiators
earth and man engage
in tests of strength and will
bringing forth goodness