Balance for a troubled heart–staying close to the simple, the ordinary, the real

Birch bark curl

The circle of a birchbark world

So many of our hearts seem troubled these days.  We’re worried about politics, the state of the nation, the trials of the world, the gullies of the universe.  We’re pained about health, trapped children, money, jobs, relationships, pressures.  We’re feeling our red hearts beating blue ribbons of sorrow and we’re struggling, how we’re struggling, to stay afloat and upbeat in a foggy world where the answers aren’t immediately apparent.

I see folks arguing everywhere.  We’re pitting ourselves again the other, taking the swords of our opinions and clashing them against the swords of other opinions.  We’re living in the world of our ideas and using our ideas as guns against each other. The bullets look like “My idea is right and yours is wrong and it’s all going to hell in a handbasket!”




We so believe that our view is the right view.  Even when we’re bold enough to stray beyond our opinions into gray or murky areas of not-knowing, allowing, engaging, expanding…we’re still so often trapped in the fake news of conceptual thought.

What creates balance in times when our hearts hurt?

I’ve discovered that staying very simple and ordinary eases well-being.  Living intimately close with the senses, with the real of what’s appearing.  Dropping beneath thought’s volatile opinion and judgment and labeling and analyzing.


When lupins die

What lies beneath thought?

A flowing river of movement, a flowing river of delighted appreciation of life.  Here’s a world where you unexpectedly add a teaspoon of pesto to two scrambled eggs.  Here’s a world where a sliver of sunlight flickers through deep green trees.  Here’s a world where your husband cracks a silly joke.

In these ordinary simple appearances lives joy.  The world of the senses, unlike the world of thought which seems predisposed to tension, often sparks pleasure. Lake water splashing through toes, a kitten rubbing against  legs, fingers typing on a keyboard, paint splashed against a wall, simmering chili, the thrill of footprints in beach sand.


Simple footsteps

A tea date with a dear friend.  Splitting wood in the shade.  The joy of summer’s freedom.  Open windows!  No mosquitoes.  Cool fan air dancing through the room.  A stranger’s smile.  A loved one’s generosity.  A new cookbook.  An old ribbon.

It’s not about refusing to look and feel and see the woes of the world.  They march on, those endless woes, through generation after generation.  They accompany us with their flags promising peace but rarely fulfilling.  These woes can bruise and burn and battle our hearts–and yet we can temper them with softness, with tenderness, with reminding ourselves of the myriad beauties whispering constantly all around.

Beauty daisy, beauty lake, beauty leaf, beauty laughter, beauty story, beauty song.

Daisy at First Sand Beach

Daisy beauty

When the heart troubles too intensely, when eyes threaten tears, when the mind stumbles in confusion, perhaps it’s time to return to the simplicity, the closeness, the miracle of everyday ordinary happenings.  To set the concepts aside for a while and sip lemonade.  To lie in a hammock and watch chickadees.  To celebrate the miracle of breath, toes, lips and ankles. To celebrate that we’re still ALIVE one more day!

To whisper to the woes:  “Yes, dear ones, what you say may be true.  But it’s also true that the moon rises so beautifully in the sky, rain nourishes the baby lettuce and a friend reached out today.”

Thank you world, thank you dear Universe.

About Kathy

I live in the middle of the woods in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Next to Lake Superior's cold shores. I love to blog.
This entry was posted in July 2018 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

50 Responses to Balance for a troubled heart–staying close to the simple, the ordinary, the real

  1. Val says:

    You’re right. Hugs to you, dear Kathy.

  2. I’m with you, focusing on the miracle of simple ordinary happenings. Appreciating this beautiful summer day and the chance to open the windows! What will be, will be… *hugs*

    • Kathy says:

      Barbara, it sounds like you are having a beautiful day out in your neck of the woods. Glad you’re loving the miracle of just being present, too.

  3. timalanmi says:

    Again one of these times when I needed to read/hear this today .. Thank you

  4. Wonderful. Beautifully written. And so true and uplifting.

    • Kathy says:

      LouAnn, thank you. I felt so peaceful after this was written. Like it *almost* captured something that felt really important. Blessings to you today.

  5. dorannrule says:

    You are so right! The simple things bring smiles and quiet peace.

    • Kathy says:

      Dor, it’s interesting how often we overlook the simple and think we want something much bigger and splashier. Today I keep spending time just returning to the senses, to the leaves blowing in the tree, the sun peeking through the leaves. Thank you!

  6. Carol says:

    Visiting the little town where Kat will be teaching in the fall, it is easier to forget the woes of the world – friendly people, quiet, the river just across the street – it’s peaceful. We all need more of that – friendliness, quiet, peace. Thank you.

    • Kathy says:

      Kat’s new town sounds really peaceful and lovely, Carol. There IS peace in the world. I think we often need to make a conscious effort to see it. The world can shout so noisily at times. I keep returning to the present moment today, every time the email beeps or the phone rings. And it feels so right, even when the more challenging moments come up.

  7. jeffstroud says:

    All so very present to the presence! Re-reading “The Spell of the Sensuous” reinforces my awareness to the connection of everything, allow the natural world to embrace us, while we embrace the wonder of it all. Honor and Gratitude !

    • Kathy says:

      Jeff, I just googled your book and requested a sample be sent to my iPad. It sounds interesting. Wanting to keep embracing the wonder of it, to keep the focus on this instead of confusion or discomfort or swirling thoughts. Honor and gratitude to you as well!

  8. Shirley Khodja says:

    Thank you, Kathy! This is exactly why we’ve chosen to spend our summers in our little cabin on Huron Bay. Simplicity, natural beauty on every scale, the sort of which you capture in your photos. How lucky we are, we tell ourselves every day. How happy. How much healthier.

    • Kathy says:

      Shirley, there is a simplicity being out in nature, far from the maddening crowd, as someone once said. 🙂 I am glad you are so happy up here. What a beautiful place we live in! Was out at the Mouth of the Huron yesterday. Always wonder why I don’t go out there more often.

  9. Brenda says:

    Kathy, you are so right about this! Being mindful of the simple blessings that surround us brings a sense of peace. Awakening our senses to the simple delights all around us, inside and outside, makes us see the world in a different way. ❤ I love your story today, it resonates deeply in my heart! ❤

    • Kathy says:

      Brenda, I really truly think this is the antidote for our sorrow and pain. I feel so passionate about sharing this truth because it seems to work to ease my own challenges. Just to re-adjust and re-calibrate and see another aspect of the world that we sometimes miss with our worries and suffering. So glad it resonated with you!

  10. dawnkinster says:

    Just what so many of us need to hear and absorb.

  11. debyemm says:

    Mars is glowing a golden spotlight in the Eastern sky.

    Yep, I still see beauty everywhere. Thanks for the reminder to balance.

  12. Lori says:

    Two thoughts: 1) It’s so strange how our posts (yours and mine) tend to coincide. You said, “A flowing river of movement, a flowing river of delighted appreciation of life.” The word, “appreciation” is the title of my inspirational quote today. Not to mention, I just drafted a blog to be posted next week about looking within when troubled by world affairs. 2) After reading this post of yours, I felt a comforting sense of release. Thank you. Have a beautiful weekend.

    • Kathy says:

      Lori, it’s just so fascinating how this serendipity seems to rise. I’ve seen this happen a lot among blogging friends, but you and I somehow seem to coincide quite frequently! I am glad this helped you release. Hope you are having a nice weekend.

  13. BEAUTIFUL words that ring so true. To the simplicity of holding a hand, smiling at a friend, sucking on a piece of chocolate, reading a poetic sweet blog post. These things are what make life sing.

    • Kathy says:

      And how we love it when life sings! (Much better than when it sulks. ha ha.) Let me think of a few simple things from this morning. Picking garden lettuce, offering garden lettuce to a friend, receiving a pat of butter in exchange (don’t ask, too long of an explanation), wearing my favorite sleeveless “Biker Babe” t shirt. It’s only a Biker Babe t-shirt because I cut off the long sleeves once to wear on hot days like these. It has a maze on the front of it. Because life is like a maze. And I keep meeting you in one of the passageways!

  14. Barb says:

    To allow some distance is to see a fuller meaning. In our current atmosphere of instant retort and response, there is much angst and frustration vetted continually. The “news” is a bitter and frustrating cycle. I’ve pulled back from it – we had our cable tv taken out in the spring. We spend our days in Nature and our evenings reading and (gasp) talking. I like this quote from Rumi: There is a voice that doesn’t use words, listen. Thank you for your post, Kathy.

    • Kathy says:

      I am loving that Rumi quote. I suddenly want to share it on Facebook! ha ha, perhaps will just sit with it and drink in its larger essence. We don’t have a TV and never miss it. It’s always interesting going to visit my mom or Barry’s parents and being bombarded with news. It seems like half the world must be depressed after being exposed to it. Thank you, my friend.

  15. talesofsyren says:

    If only we could relax enough to open our hearts. Thanks.

    • Kathy says:

      Yes indeed. Sometimes just being present with the breath for a long time can help shift things. Then, as the thoughts and feelings come, you just return to the breath. Eventually relaxation can’t help itself…

  16. sherrysescape says:

    Thank-you, Kathy. Your words ease anxiety.

    • Kathy says:

      Sherry, I keep practicing this. It does ease so much–anxiety, depression, confusion. The sadness often still remains, but it’s tempered by peace and acceptance. Sometimes. 🙂

  17. Elisa says:

    Those edge states can be so determindly edgy can’t they?

  18. sybil says:

    Opinionated me cannot believe that I should be listening or validating in any way the views of the alt right … I keep thinking that if folk had spoken out more against Hitler things might have been different. We are sliding downward with #45 and others who want to bar the outsiders and those who are different. We must not tolerate the intolerant. Wait … does that make me an utter hypocrite ?

    Oh heck, I’m heading out for a walk with the dog, then home to garden and then I think I’ll order a Handmaid’s bonnet ….

    I admire your balanced approach …

    • Kathy says:

      It’s interesting how the different parts of ourselves step to the forefront and share what they think to be true. And who’s to say that they are right or wrong? We can’t disown parts of ourselves, even though I know I’ve tried. We do what we need to do, we say what we need to say, we think what we need to think. Yet I know I burn out when one part of me gets too disturbed or intolerant. This thought isn’t about eliminating the different parts of our passionate selves…it’s about balancing burnout, balancing indignant reactions, balancing sadness. It’s about shifting attention to simple sense-filled perception. And I see you doing this all the time, Sybil, as you walk your dogs, as you hold up three leaf clovers, as you photograph the sea.

  19. This is a message that the world needs to hear! It certainly struck a chord with me. Thank you for this reminder of the joy found in simple things!

    • Kathy says:

      Cindy, I keep reminding myself of this every day in the past week since writing it. The magic of it is that it works–if we just remember to return to the simple, the sacred presence of the moment. P.S. Isn’t summer lovely? So elusive, so fleeting, so satisfying to sit outside on the deck among the greens and just breathe. Winter an almost-forgotten memory…

  20. mightyaddy says:

    This is the most beautiful thing that I’ve read today. So wonderfully written. Thanks a lot for making me feel a little positive towards life!!!

    • Kathy says:

      Some days it can be so hard to find the positive, mighyaddy. Staying closer to the simple ordinary things of life–just appreciating a cup of coffee or sunlight on leaves–can perhaps be the “medicine” we need for the day. Thank you for pausing to comment.

  21. elisewithane says:

    Thank you, Kathy – I really needed to know this, one way or another. From someone who has been fighting a lost battle (mental illness), it’s nice to know there is light, there is a sweet person boasting that there is joy in this world and shining awareness on this truth. So thank you… If you want to know a little about myself, I have my own blog. Check it out in your spare time if you’d like. X

    • Kathy says:

      Keep the simple and ordinary close to your heart and see if it bears fruit in your life, Elise. It’s taken me most of this lifetimes so far to discover the joy that exists–unearned–beneath our thoughts, feelings, personalities and circumstances. Perhaps, even though you acknowledge your mental illness, you’ll discover that the battle isn’t lost. That no one can take away the way the full moon shines on a lake, the sweet taste of blueberries, the magic smell of the world after a thunderstorm. Blessings!

      • elisewithane says:

        Wow – your words will resonate with me for a long time. Very true – no one can take those things away from me. X

  22. I came over. I read mesmerized. I sat without thought. I write to say my first reaction to this post that wrote itself.

    Well done my faithful muse.

    • Kathy says:

      It sounds like you opened up into the state of expanded awarenesss, dear Linda. That’s what I did to write this. It happened again with yesterday morning’s post. The Universe also showed me (in a way that I could finally begin to grasp) how to stay with my blog posts for hours afterward letting the message sink deeper into me. I finally understood how I am writing these blogs for myself to understand more deeply. If another person resonates, well that’s an added bonus. But I am learning how to digest what comes forth from the typing fingers and to heal inner knots that still hurt. Oh my, there’s still so much to learn… Thank you for your ability to open.

Thank you for reading. May you be blessed in your life...may you find joy in the simple things...

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