Cherished Blogfest 2017

The first time I heard a lojong teaching, I took a few notes, scribbled in my journal alongside some architectural building schematic.  I was under twenty-five.

In my late twenties I bought “Training the Mind” by Chogyam Trungpa
at the Bodhi Tree (RIP best bookstore ever).
His book literally fell on my head, and I buy all books that fall on my head.
I skimmed it but did not resonate with it, and found some wording to be so
CATHOLIC (I was a recovering Catholic at the time),
so I tucked it into a stack that would become several shelves.

Then I read Ani Pema Chodron’s Book “Start Where You Are” in 1994, twenty years later, and as are all her books, it was excellent.  She referred to this little blue book,
the “real thing” by her teacher, Trungpa.  It took you through the slogans in depth.
I tried to find it in bookstores, but by now I was living in a provincial
little town with a small New Age bookstore.  No luck.


Of course, you know it was the book I’d barely cracked!

As I have always done when learning anything, I kept a journal.
I can’t really learn any other way.  Copying the slogans and teaching comments, adding my thoughts, and committing them into my journal puts them into body, heart and mind.
I used one of my red Okina journals and began, in 1994, writing notes from the two books, Trungpa’s and Pema Chodron’s, a very good book for beginning steps.
I sat in silence at the Blue Mountain coffee shop every morning and read and contemplated and wrote about each slogan, sometimes spending days on
commentary by Trungpa, and turning the coffee shop into a sacred place!

I’ve worked through the blue book a half-dozen times like this,
adding post-its and adding a sketching Okina,
and adding a couple of other commentaries.
I can read my early thoughts about the slogans as well as maturing thoughts.
Now it is a thoroughly messy and cherished journal!
If I had to grab just one book now it would be the two books together as one.
If not two, then my red journal, my notes on the lojong.

Of course, the practice is none of this.
It is a breathing practice.

I see dharma (literally, “truth”) — in my case these teachings — as a lifeline to sanity,
a path to mental health.   Studying the teachings is a path to lightheartedness, to basic happiness or joy, and a salve in these awful times in which we live.

Pema Chodron spoke once about the moment when you realize the teachings are about yourself in the world; that connection, once made, I think, is hard to turn from.  Teachings, whatever kind are a lifeline for you, illuminates a path to
know yourself intimately, to stop running away in addictive behavior
which ultimately causes you and yours more pain (drink, drugs, shopping,
surfing Instagram endlessly to avoid — my newest),
and to put your foot on a path which brings more joy even in trying circumstances.

For my most recent study, which was stopped for reasons I can’t discuss, here.

For information on the breathing practice, look here — and get a teacher, ultimately!

Cherished Blogfest 2017 October NOW!
Want to join?  Tell us about a cherished object
and no, you don’t have to paint…
Then sign the Linky List so we can come visit you!
#CBF17 is our hashtag.

©D. Katie Powell.  My images/blog posts may be reposted; please link back  to dkatiepowellart or zenkatwrites.

Posted in autobiography | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments


(reposted from

Cello Man plays at the entrance to PSU Saturday Market.
We enjoy him, and have often given him money.
I think there is an unwritten rule or agreement about the musicians,
because rarely does one drown out another or move into the other’s territory…
There is a lovely symbiosis to how you move through the large college market, listening to the cell then a lovely drum then Hawaiian ukulele then violin.

Until late August.

An obnoxious dad set up his precocious 6 year old keyboard talent at the entrance,
and proceeded to turn the volume waaaaay up.  He not only drowned out Cello Man,
but blasted us all and could be heard all over the park.  I was offended,
and I think other people were too… He tried it again a week later,
and Cello Man disappeared — but then so did the 6 year old, finally, blessedly.

We did not know why Cello Man did not return.
He was not at PSU.  We missed him.
We asked the market info stand about him.
So odd that they didn’t know what happened to him, “the Busker?”
He sat across from them every week!

Martin Watkinson and Gaea lost their house in a fire.
We’ve bought two of their downloadable albums here.
You can also donate (crowdfunding) here;
what has happened is bad, he has medical issues,
and they need so much help.

I need to track him down now that I’ve done his portrait.
His playing is so lovely.

Posted in compassion | 7 Comments

From On Being

One of the few online mags I read regularly.
This was so short I lifted it instead of giving a few lines and sending you on.
Go visit them… Krista Tippett started this uplifting mag.

The Blessing of Friends Who Weather the Storm With Us

My friend Ilyse and I have been friends for a long time. Sixteen years and counting. In the course of that time, I have had the pleasure of seeing her graduate, go to graduate school, get married, and have two kids. She’s seen me raise four kids, hit rock bottom, get back up on my feet, and find love again. We’ve both been through a lot.

When my life was going through a ton of upheaval, there was a conversation that Ilyse and I shared. It was a sweet, simple conversation, one that has stayed with me over the years.

It was one of those times that I was in my lowest of the low moments: unsure, vulnerable, and shaky. It is in these moments when our hearts are breaking that they, sometimes, break open. In the middle of a tear-filled conversation, she leaned in, looked me assuringly in my eyes, and said, “I am in your boat.”

Sometimes your life feels like you are cruising on an ocean liner, everything is going smoothly. Other times, like that time, it felt like I was in a tiny boat, going up and down on turbulent waves that were crashing all around me, cresting over me.

“I am in your boat.”

How lovely to know that I was not alone in that boat. How lovely to have family and friends, people who assure you, “You don’t even need to turn around to check to see if I am here. I don’t care how small your boat is. I am in your boat.”

They are the ones who tell us:

“If your boat goes up, I am going up with you.
If your boat goes down, I am going down with you.
Up or down, I am with you.”

Over the years, I have thought more and more about Ilyse’s simple words of wisdom, this lifeboat that came straight from her heart. Yes, I needed help. Yes, I was drowning or in danger. But I was not looking for someone to send me a rescue boat. I had my own boat: my life, my kids. I didn’t need to be rescued from this boat. I needed to learn to survive, and even thrive, in this boat. The ocean may be now calm, now stormy. The best of friends are the ones who are with us come hell or high water — or the security of a shore.

There’s more. There is a grace about not having to turn around to check to see if our closest friends and loved ones are in our boat. Sometimes it takes all that we have to breathe, to row, to stay afloat. And we don’t have the mental energy to check to see who, if anyone, is in our boat. Blessed are those friends who reach forward, gently placing their hands on our shoulder, around our waist, to let us know that they are with us.

We learn a lot about the people who stay in our boat during the storm. Sometimes it’s exactly who you expect. Sometimes there are those whom we expect to be in our boat, and at the moment of deepest crisis, they go missing. Maybe they were trying to survive in their own boat. It’s been said before: Whenever possible, be kind; you never know what battles others are fighting.

Sometimes there are people whom you knew were close to you, but it is honestly a pleasant surprise to find them sticking right with you, right behind you, faithfully in your boat. When you get to the shore of safety, these are the friends to cherish. One lifetime is not enough to live this gratitude.

In life, learn who’s in your boat.
Cherish them.

Learn to be in others’ boats.
Cherish them.

Cherish your boat.
Cherish your ride.
Cherish your life.

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Posted in compassion | Tagged | 12 Comments

What’s in A Word?

Elora Nicole’s post moved me so I have gone back and reread it several times.
Magical writing, must read.

What’s in a Word?

It started with a word.

I was sitting at a stoplight, praying about my word for 2016. It was October. I remember leaning against my window and the chill on the glass surprising me.

I have words for every year. Normally, by this time, I know my word. I kept wondering why I hadn’t gotten a word yet. I wondered if I missed it somewhere. I wondered if I would even have one. It wasn’t like I was resisting a word, but for the past five years, my words have been anything but kind. While I was curious why I hadn’t received one, I wasn’t actively pursuing it.

I was hesitant. But that day, something had me thinking about it.

So I’m sitting there, praying about my word, and I whisper under my breath —

I think it might be rooted.

There was something about that word that called to me, something about grounding and breathing and remembering who I am in this flesh and bone. I thought it might be a hint. I looked out the window, contemplating, and the answer hit me square in the chest. It was the most audible I’ve ever experienced the Spirit’s voice.

“Your word will be mother.”

My breath hitched. My heart flinched.

And then I started to weep.

I didn’t share anything about my word. In fact, I wrote about the reasons why I wouldn’t be telling anyone other than my closest friends and family. This was not meant for public consumption. This was going to be an internal shift — an intimate pull toward what caused me the most pain. I knew the truth: my words are never about the obvious. Not really. So even though there were implications beyond what I fully grasped in that moment, I focused where I could: the mother heart of God.


Next came the message.   (CONTINUE…)

Posted in autobiography | 2 Comments

Elizabeth Semende, Poet

Lovely poet… please go visit her!
Touched me in light of recent losses.

To Have a Friend

To have a friend is to hear a melody reek amidst a veld.

To place your eggs of hope on the selvage of a replete basket.

To have a friend is to believe.

To have a friend is to entrust.

To have a friend is to coil your love on a broken spool.

To wear her scars and pour your heart on the flame of her burdens.

To have a friend is to love.

To have a friend is to be loved.

To have a friend is to cultivate a bond on the barren grounds of earth.

To sow a family on the fecund realm of your heart.

To have a friend is to care.

To have a friend is to be blessed.

Posted in autobiography | Tagged , | 7 Comments


Originally published on dkatiepowellart.

It is a pitiful drawing, altogether too cheery,
but it was the middle-of-the-night and I had only my watercolor-filled pens.
I was horrified about what I’d read in the Oregonian.
*yeah i know i should not be reading puter in the middle-of-the-night*
They are pushing for leniency and have a “kids-will-be kids” attitude,
regarding the teenagers that tossed the firecrackers into the gorge.


I’m not on the side of the death penalty, but to write that these “children”
(oops, 15 is not quite a child…. more a minor) should not be charged
with a crime as an adult and do time because they
Any one of my friends would have understood the consequences at 12, let alone 15.
We knew this was an evil, destructive, malicious act, just like
firing a gun at someone, beating up on someone, rape, or lighting a cat’s tail on fire.

Do people raised with a computer and games
between their fingers not understand real life?
Does this mean they are mentally ill?  (Not having a grip on reality is mentally ill.)
How could anyone not evil (and do NOT tell me teens can’t be evil) do such a thing?
And for those of you who don’t know, there are signs all along the trails about
fire and firecrackers and other ways fires can start.

*view from our studio window last night*

This morning the Eagle Creek fire has met the Indian Creek fire and is a force of
20,000 burning acres.  At our studio an hour away (40 miles as the crow flies),
we can’t see far, and outside you can’t breathe.  Falling ash.

 The cops caught the kid (all of them), fleeing.
They talked to him, they had an eye witness who identified him.
They let him go. The Feds or the State Police must charge him (them).
Then there will be a trial and they should do time, the ones tossing doing the most time —
But, like bullies, those that watch are complicit.

I fell asleep early last night, and so, just after the full moon, I woke.
Middle-of-the-night I spent angst-ridden over the losses: the animals, the trees, the human casualties (we don’t know yet), the human losses in dollars, jobs, homes, buildings.

I had nowhere to go with my sorrow but to do a gratitude post.

A special thanks to all who are fighting fires!

*the last image is of my home fire station, laguna beach*

Posted in courage, guidance, journal, loss | Tagged , , , , , , , | 6 Comments


I wept… nothing bad, just amazing lady and people doing good work for orphaned elephants.

Posted in autobiography | 7 Comments