Sunday, July 30, 2017

A Year In Sedona~Meeting The Muse At Wisdom's Edge

Product Details
A Year In Sedona~Meeting The Muse At Wisdom's Edge is now available on or you can order directly by contacting
The blog At Wisdom's Edge is now on Facebook...


Do not go where the path may lead,
Go instead where there is no path
and leave a trail.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson 

At the second half of life my husband  and I moved to Sedona, Arizona to reconnect with our artistic roots by reigniting an old love affair with the muse. This is the story of our journey to a beautiful, vibrant and hospitable place we called wisdom’s edge. 

In Sedona we found a new community of creative spirits lighting the way for our own generation and those to come. Befriended by artists, writers, visionaries, musicians, healers, nature enthusiasts, yogis and spiritual seekers who generously shared their stories, we felt lucky to have their companionship as our second life unfolded. The road to wisdom’s edge was alternately smooth and rocky but the way was always well marked by the enlightened presence of our new friends, muses who informed and nourished us through the visual, literary and culinary arts, meditation practices and the wisdom of nature.

 In time we would realize that wisdom’s edge wasn’t so much a place, a finish line to be crossed, or a prize to grasp. Rather, it was a point of view and perspective encouraging a more creative life by pushing a little further with every step and going a bit deeper with every breath. In meeting the muse again we learned how to never set limits on creativity and always to honor the forces of gratitude, compassion and good each day. We learned to trust in the power of beauty to transform and that it is truly wisdom to believe the heart. 

Inspiration for writing A Year In Sedona – Meeting the Muse at Wisdom’s Edge came from my blog At Wisdom’s Edge, a wide ranging and freewheeling exploration of meeting up with the muse again at the second half of life ( After receiving numerous comments and participating in many discussions about living a new life at wisdom’s edge, I decided to write a book that would continue the conversation and be as well a friendly companion for anyone looking to travel a more creative and contemplative path in life.  Within each chapter you’ll find Meeting The Muse, a section with practical suggestions and information I’ve used over the years to engage imagination and discover new creative possibilities. The last chapter offers The Wisdom’s Edge Questionnaire for those embarking on their own trip to wisdom’s edge.   

Whether you read this book as an armchair traveler or you are preparing to set out for an exotic new location, I hope you’ll find fresh and meaningful words about how to more creatively embrace the second half of life as you meet your own muse.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

A Year In Sedona: Epilogue

Passage To Summerland
Watercolor on Paper by Melanie Lee
Passage to Summerland

Our guide was a Trickster
who always smelled skanky
we held our hanky
discreet to nose
 hoping fair winds
would deliver us gladly
from  armpits gone badly.

 Asses in gear sweeties!
Trickster yelled with abandon
Sashay up that hill, 
sidle over those humps.
 I  see ya, I gotcha
    now don't be a goose 
just look out for the bumps.
Darkling lowlands now behind,
ascent ground on blind
through smokey webs and blackened barbed wire.
Came a lonely blue valley with dusty red fire 
hosanna, we  fell on our knees in surrender
 to a large happy lemon
                                                       oozing hope from a blender.                                                                                                                                                                                
 Noon blazed high
when the end burst in sight,
 resurrection stood by
 Trickster shone in the light.
Fresh shirt, sweet pits
 cleaned up right smart as 
 lilacs from heaven bloomed out his heart.

                                                          Let go of my hand dears
he said with a wink
 I know what you think 
but I'm merely a link.
  That yellow? That mirth?
Pay homage to Summerland,
you're now guests on earth.



Prayer For Dwellers In Possibility       

Deliver us we pray, from the company of sad and contentious spirits.  We're looking for happy souls now, yes we are. Lead us, push us, pull us to those hallowed places of mystery and beauty where we can find the things that really matter. Take us for a walk at dusk among the strong, stark and often strangely seductive native plants and birds of the high desert. Thank you for the things that we've found that have enchanted and inspired. 

Remind us that the way of calm, peace and enjoyment isn't something to hold on to only for ourselves alone. Let us practice the sharing that is the dessert of life. With family. Cats. Grocery store clerks. Drivers on the road. Fellow writers, artists, musicians and yogis all over the world. Sweet seekers and friends who've found the truth of it all. 

And at the end of the day tell us again what we need to remember: That residing in peace can be learned,  like any skill, with a little  instruction and some disciplined practice. Surrender, sit, breathing in, breathing out, breathing up, breathing down. Honoring the holy. That we can always find the place where the special favors, gifts and shining mercies reside. Right here, right now and for what is yet to come, Yes!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

A Year In Sedona: This Present Moment

Chapter 1
This Present Moment

Breathing in, I calm my body.
Breathing out, I smile.
Dwelling in the present moment
I know this is a wonderful moment.
 -- Thich Nhat Hanh

        “Maybe you’re overthinking this." Our usually affable real estate agent had grown restive, hoping for a contract signing on a rustic Sedona residence Louis and I had found. We'd been looking for over two years and wanted this to be the one because we loved its southwestern ambience, the beautiful saltillo tile floors, its swell little fireplace and the huge wall of northern exposure windows with red rock views. Our agent was right but for now overthinking was probably the best thing we could have done. Shifting into high gear, we went into a veritable analytical frenzy as we went back and forth for a week, tossing around the pros and cons of the house. The quaint white stucco charmer had great bones, a nice floorplan and a good location but would need many thousands of dollars in updating, renovation and landscaping. We wrestled with whether this was something we were prepared for as we ushered in our second half of life.

            After a spirited discussion, when we ended up deciding against the charmer the relief was palpable. We had come to realize the sweet old house was something we'd have been happy with  twenty years ago, but it didn't reflect at all the life we hoped to embrace or the people we wanted to become at this stage of life. Louis told me he was happy he’d married someone with a penchant for overthinking. I told him I was glad I'd married someone who knew how to fix things around the house. I was thoughty and he was practical so those endearments made us even in some odd way. We continued looking for a place that fit who and what we’d become, two post-sixty five years old people of relatively modest but sufficient means who wanted to cultivate a more conscious and contemplative life by reconnecting with a vision we'd had in our twenties. Creative souls at heart, we'd taken a detour many years ago and were now finding the road back to meet our muse.
        From the outset we'd known the new home should reflect whre we wanted to put our resources now. It would would be the refuge we wished to have as we grew older and, we hoped, wiser. In this context and at this stage of life a house was not just shelter,  it was a symbolic container for anything we might end up keeping from our past and everything we hoped to have in the future. It should have kept the good bones it began with while holding on to the functional integrity requiring only minimal maintenance. It would have space for a painting studio, meditation and yoga, a writing nook, a garden and room for hosting friends. Of course the bottom line would accommodate our budget and we expected it to conform to our notions of acceptable aesthetic design.

       We began house hunting anew and soon found another charmer, smaller than we wanted but arranged so that the space accommodated every single need and want we'd listed. Middle-aged, impeccably maintained, priced well and close enough to the center of town for walkability convenience, it was situated and landscaped so that a sense of privacy and connection to nature was preserved. The tiny back yard was already attractively landscaped and it had a knockout view of Thunder Mountain. in the scheme of things, it was perfect. We made an offer, the contract closed and happily, by choosing a smaller place we'd saved enough so we were able to put in some great saltillo tile floors. The real estate agent, to whom we were obliged for his patience over the years, was deliriously glad the hunt was finally over. So were we.

       As we got settled, questions presented themselves about what we should keep, who and what would be coming with us, and how could we best meet and honor our muse. Engaging with the muse, coaxing out the answers unexpectedly became an enjoyable contemplative and creative process in and of itself. The time had passed for overthinking and now, instead of  adopting some kind of elaborate logical inquiry to explore things or make more lists as we might have in the past, we simply invited the spirit of creativity and contemplation to inform and shape our path as we moved forward in the present moment.

Meeting Your Muse: In This Present Moment
           To smooth out  emotional edges and bolster confidence about the choice we'd made to search out the unfamiliar in the beginning, we looked for opportunities for gardening, hiking, writing, painting, cooking and gardening. We liked moonlight meditations and meandering walks by Oak Creek. There were a couple of good classical and jazz venues to nourish body and soul. But to stay consistently in the present moment we relied on an ancient and abiding set of practices we'd learned to maintain our creative awakenings and epiphanies. Sages and seekers across time and place were always intuitively aware of how to do this and modern neuroscience has confirmed that the contemplative processes enabling focus and creativity can be consciously cultivated and practiced by everyone. 

       One  simple method for finding and staying in the present moment  is a centering and grounding practice taught by Gestalt Awareness Practice teacher Christine Price. It emphasizes breath and physical sensation by developing a relationship to the ongoing process of breathing in a very conscious measured way that resembles the physical process of opening up and then letting go. Anytime you do this you are creating a personal moment of being present to the moment. This is a practice always available to you, no matter what.  Here's how to breathe your way to the present moment.

            Slowly, very slowly and very deliberately begin to train yourself so that awareness of breathing is effortless and a consistent touchstone in the changing landscape of your life. Once a day, at the same time every day, simply rest and follow the movement of breathing for 5 minutes.  Notice the movement of your breathing throughout the day, maybe  just two or three breaths. Sometimes you might stay with the breathing for a minute or more. Begin to train yourself to do this a few times each hour and in as many different circumstances as you can: in the middle of a meeting, talking on the phone, walking down the street, brushing your teeth, driving the car. Anytime you feel confused, tense, excited, scared, happy, stressed or over excited, make a point of noticing a few breaths.If you notice any kind of physical sensation, pain or pleasure, include breath awareness as well.