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Hello friends,
              As we enter the season of festive celebrations, often a joyful but demanding time, I’m grateful my cousin invited us to Stanford University for their annual Contemplation by Design conference that focused on “The Power of the Pause.”  I was especially intrigued since that idea happened to be part of my earlier TEDx talk that will be available on-line soon.
              Neuroscience research shows that contemplative practices quiet the mind, can enhance a sense of well-being, concentration, memory, learning, and creativity, even happiness and relationships.  On a campus filled with exceptionally high achieving, ambitious students, faculty and staff, the medical school recognizes the emotional stress, anxiety and pressure this also creates. 
              So for ten days, they offer opportunities that include presentations on skill-building in contemplative practices, multi-faith events, even guided nature discoveries on their 8000-acre campus, all free to the public too!
              A highlight was the evening that Ohio congressman Tim Ryan, who wrote Healing America: How a Simple Practice Can Help Us Recapture the American Spirit joined in a dialogue with Jack Kornfield, the best-selling author on Buddhist practices of mindfulness and meditation.
              Both travel extensively throughout America and have listened to the barrage of tensions and contentious dialogue in our nation that creates pain and anxiety in the soul of all citizens.  Kornfield introduced a mindfulness meditation practice to the hundreds in the auditorium and both talked of ways to cultivate inner peace and contribute to healing in our country.  I left feeling hopeful in seeing two leaders actively addressing the importance of our inner spirit and the common good.  Plus we left 28-degree weather for a sunny 75 degrees, truly a pause before winter!

The Wonders of Chihuly Blown Glass

           If you are ever traveling in Seattle, don’t miss world-renowned glass sculptor Dale Chihuly’s Garden and Light exhibit near the Space Needle.  He once said, “I want people to be overwhelmed with light and color in some way they’ve never experienced.”  This sure happened to Jim and me, overwhelmed by beauty!  The installations illuminated his vast artistic experimentations during different seasons of his life, clearly illustrating his desire to pause, listen and trust his varied and stunning artistic interests. Sometimes it would be the creation of sea creatures inspired by his beloved Puget Sound home,
another time glass Native American baskets, and another from the influence of Ikebana and Niijima Floats from travels in Japan.
               A trailblazer, he wasn’t afraid to fail and often stretched the perceived limits of glass through a host of innovation asymmetric techniques.  When health issues ended his ability to blow glass, it didn’t end his passion.  He trains new generations of students at his Pilchuck Glass Studio who help create his artistic visions around the world, from Venice to Jerusalem to Montreal.

Books to Savor

             During busy seasons, I find a pause with poetry especially helpful in centering one’s mind and heart.  One book I return to often is Why I Wake Early by poet, Mary Oliver.  Favorites include Mindful, Snow Geese, November and Why I Wake Early that concludes with the line, “Watch now, how I start the day in happiness, in kindness.”

              More time consuming, but well worth the read is Tim Egan’s latest book A Pilgrimage to Eternity: From Canterbury to Rome in Search of a Faith. Growing up in a large Catholic family with a complicated
history with the church, his mother’s death prompted the reckoning of his own beliefs.  Inspired by Pope Francis, he takes a major pause and embarks on a 1000 mile journey on the ancient pilgrimage.  A Pulitzer Prize winning writer for the New York Times, Eagan shares his skeptical mind yet open heart on this surprising venture.  This leads him to conclude that “The Via Francigena is a trail of ideas, and it helps to walk with eyes open—otherwise you miss the bread crumbs of epiphany along the way.”  This echoes Mary Oliver’s encouragement to take pauses and stay open to the marvels in the ordinary moments in our days.

Update on Soul Space Podcast

My new author website includes an interview about Soul Space on the thoughtful Open Door Sisterhood podcast forum by Krista Gilbert.  You can click the link, if you would like to listen.
If you want to give family or friends an inspiring and beautiful Christmas gift,
Soul Space can also be ordered on the website.

Life on the Land

Compost Time: A Great Season to begin

             In our four-season climate, earth pauses for a dormant season, but not before we enjoy a glorious Fall where the tapestry of exquisite leaves fall to the ground. Albert Camus’s observed, “Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.” Our son Jefferson, who came from Korea around 5, often brought me my first bouquet of Fall leaves.  I loved scattering them as a centerpiece on our kitchen table. 

          Would you like to help reduce methane and lower your carbon imprint?  You can actually do this through the small action of home
composting. Not only will your plants thrive and smile, but you will also be reducing the amount of kitchen and garden refuse that enters our landfills.     

           Jim gathers all our leaves before snowfall and some become part of his three-bin compost that he faithfully layers, waters, and turns throughout the year. Combined with kitchen refuse, this eventually transforms into rich black gold soil. If you haven’t already begun composting, Fall is the perfect season to begin.  
       There are excellent on-line guides.  Just type in Home Composting Guides and two favorites will come up: compost guides and home composting. Both provide informative steps for both beginning and experienced composters.

Cooking for Resilience

              For the past fifteen years, I’ve added a naturopath oncologist to my efforts to stay as healthy as possible while on potent cancer medications.  She’s been an enlightening guide and, of course, includes healthy nutrition as essential.  
 This healthy recipe for Bolivian Peanut Soup comes from Gabriela Ausland Morena who is now married to Aaron Ausland, Krista’s husband before her death.  A cherished addition to our extended family, their children Thiago and Ava London are our beloved heart-grandchildren. 
She has served her mother’s recipe with friends at Harvard while Aaron earned his Master's degree from the Kennedy School, in their Seattle home where she is a teaching assistant in a bi-lingual elementary school, and at the Hearth for Krista Colleague gatherings.  It’s delicious and nutritious!
              I wish you great joy, with eyes open to the marvelous daily “bread crumbs of epiphany,” Thanks for visiting and on my new website you can now also write to me under Contact Linda.  I hope you find moments to pause in thanksgiving as you celebrate the wonders of life!
              Peace to you,  Linda
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Linda Lawrence Hunt · The Hearth · Spokane, WA 99218 · USA

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