Tag: Mary Oliver

11/25/12 “A Gift”

Good day, team.

I hope all my subscribers enjoyed a long holiday weekend. We work hard, and it is rare that we allow ourselves the luxury of true rest and relaxation. The holidays give us time to reflect on the accomplishments and challenges of the past year and to ponder the coming new year and the opportunities it may bring.

Your challenge this week is to carve out some time for yourself in the next four weeks for reflection and gratitude. Think about the gifts that life has bestowed upon you in this past year and be thankful for the abundance that surrounds you. Consider the challenges that you’ve encountered and how you’ve learned from them, how you’ve grown in dealing with them and consider how you’ve changed. Revel in the love that others have bestowed upon you. And give yourself a gift for having lived another year that expanded your mind and opened your heart.

My gift to myself this holiday is a poem from the Pulitzer Prize–winning poet, Mary Oliver. I encourage you to find a gift that speaks to your heart, as Oliver’s poem does to mine.

Of Love

I have been in love more times than one,
thank the Lord. Sometimes it was lasting
whether active or not. Sometimes
it was all but ephemeral, maybe only
an afternoon, but not less real for that.
They stay in my mind, these beautiful people,
or anyway people beautiful to me, of which
there are so many. You, and you, and you,
whom I had the fortune to meet, or maybe
missed. Love, love, love, it was the
core of my life, from which, of course, comes
the word for the heart. And, oh, have I mentioned
that some of them were men and some were women
and some — now carry my revelation with you —
were trees. Or places. Or music flying above
the names of the makers. Or clouds, or the sun
which was the first, and the best, the most
loyal for certain, who looked so faithfully into
my eyes, every morning. So I imagine
such love of the world — its fervency, its shining, its
innocence and hunger to give of itself — I imagine
this is how it began.

~ Mary Oliver

Have a good week!


© Copyright 2012 Pathfinders Coaching, Scout Search Inc., all rights reserved.

6/6/11 “Wild and Precious Life”

Good day, team.

My vacation this past week was punctuated by three events that influence the theme of this week’s challenge: the death of a relative, turning a year older (on the same day as my relative’s death) and a visit to the town where I grew up.

Experiencing the solemnity of death and the celebration of a birthday all in one day was bittersweet. I found myself feeling contradictory emotions — both grief and joy throughout the day. My grandsons wanted Nana to celebrate her birthday with cake, ice cream and candles (of course, what five- and three-year-olds don’t want cake and ice cream whenever they can get it?). And yet, it didn’t seem quite appropriate given that their grandfather on the other side of the family had just passed away. While we were grieving his death, we also felt grateful that he died peacefully surrounded by those who loved him. So we also wanted to celebrate his life.

Visiting my old home was bittersweet, as well. I was reminded of the many happy times I experienced in this beautiful town where I spent my formative years. It made me happy to walk down memory lane and feel some of the joy I experienced while living there. At the same time, I realized that the happy, safe and tranquil feeling of those years completely disappeared after we moved away. Once we left, all of our lives changed drastically with my parents divorce. Little did I know, as we drove away in our old Plymouth station wagon, that my childhood innocence of naive trust would be left behind. Life became very complicated after that.

All of last week’s events made me realize, yet again, how precious life is and the importance of living each moment as it comes. Whether it’s grieving the death of a loved one or celebrating the emergence of another year, we have a finite amount of time to be here, right now.

My dear friend, Kate Dwyer, summed it up beautifully. Upon reading about my experiences of the week she replied,

“And then for you, sort of a body slam presentation of every lesson we all think we’ve learned but discover regularly that we have not learned deeply enough: Entrances and Exits. Pay Attention. Savor the moment. Ye know not the moment nor the hour.”

Your challenge this week is to savor the moment. Taste your food. Feel the sweat on your brow. See the person you’re talking to. Experience the moment in whatever form it takes. As the moments tick by in your life, give some thought to how you want to experience it. Will you experience the beauty of a new morning or find yourself worrying about tomorrow?

Mary Oliver so eloquently addressed this question in her poem “The Summer Day.” Here’s the poem in its entirety. I hope it speaks to you this week.

The Summer Day

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean —
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down —
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

from “New and Selected Poems, 1992
Beacon Press, Boston, MA

Have a good week!


Kathleen Doyle-White
Pathfinders Coaching
(503) 296-9249

© Copyright 2011 Pathfinders Coaching, Scout Search Inc., all rights reserved.

4/11/11 “Poetry”

Good day, team.

It’s April again and that means it’s National Poetry Month. In celebration, I’d like to offer you poetry to challenge your mind and fill your heart. As Johann Goethe said, “A man should hear a little music, read a little poetry and see a fine picture every day of his life in order that worldly cares do not obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the human soul.” Your challenge is to find a poem that speaks to you, inspires you and connects you with all and everything.

Here are some of my favorites:

Loaves and Fishes

This is not
the age of information.

This is not
the age of information.

Forget the news,
and the radio,
and the blurred screen.

This is the time
of loaves
and fishes.

People are hungry
and one good word is bread
for a thousand.

— David Whyte


This morning
two mockingbirds
in the green field
were spinning and tossing

the white ribbons
of their songs
into the air.
I had nothing

better to do
than listen.
I mean this

In Greece,
a long time ago,
an old couple
opened their door

to two strangers
who were,
it soon appeared,
not men at all,

but gods.
It is my favorite story —
how the old couple
had almost nothing to give

but their willingness
to be attentive —
but for this alone
the gods loved them

and blessed them —
when they rose
out of their mortal bodies,
like a million particles of water

from a fountain,
the light
swept into all the corners
of the cottage,

and the old couple,
shaken with understanding,
bowed down —
but still they asked for nothing

but the difficult life
which they had already.
And the gods smiled, as they vanished,
clapping their great wings.

Wherever it was
I was supposed to be
this morning —
whatever it was I said

I would be doing —
I was standing
at the edge of the field —
I was hurrying

through my own soul,
opening its dark doors —
I was leaning out;
I was listening.

— Mary Oliver

The Soul Bone

Once I said I didn’t have a spiritual bone
in my body and meant by that
I didn’t want to think of death,
as though any bone in us
could escape it. Maybe
I was afraid of what I couldn’t know
for certain, a thud like the slamming
of a coffin lid, as final and inexplicable
as that. What was the soul anyway,
I wondered, but a homonym for loneliness?
Now, in late middle age, or more, I like to imagine it,
the spirit, the soul bone, as though it were hidden
somewhere inside my body, white as a tooth
that falls from a child’s mouth, a dove,
the cloud it can fly through. Like bones,
it persists. Little knot of self, stubborn
as wildflowers in a Chilmark field in autumn,
the white ones they call boneset, for healing,
or the others, pearly everlasting.
The rabbis of the Midrash believed in the bone
and called it the luz, just like the Spanish word
for light, the size of a chickpea or an almond,
depending on which rabbi was telling the story,
found, they said, at the top of the spine or the base,
depending. No one’s ever seen it, of course,
but sometimes at night I imagine I can feel it,
shining its light through my body, the bone
luminous, glowing in the dark. Sometimes,
if you listen, you might even hear that light
deep inside me, humming its brave little song.

— Susan Wood

Please feel free to share any of your favorite poems this month on my blog.

Have a good week!


Kathleen Doyle-White

Pathfinders Coaching

(503) 296-9249

© Copyright 2011 Pathfinders Coaching, Scout Search Inc., all rights reserved.

9/27/10 “Wild Geese”

Good day, team,

While out for my daily walk yesterday, I heard a seasonal sound. I looked up to the sky to see a flock of geese flying overhead. Ah, I thought, autumn has arrived. This is a favorite time of year for many of us. I often have a sense of relief when autumn arrives. There’s a message within the season that tells me that the long days of sun filled activity are drawing to an end and I have permission to draw inside and to reflect upon all of this past summer’s activity.

I must admit, I’m like a bear. The desire to hibernate for a long season seems very appealing to me. Winter is around the corner and maybe this year I’ll have a chance to burrow into my den, snuggle up next to my papa bear, and have a nice long sleep!

In celebration of the season, I want to share one of my favorite poems with you. It’s called “Wild Geese” and it’s written by Mary Oliver, one of our best contemporary American poets and winner of the Pulitzer Prize for her poetry. This week’s challenge is in any part of this poem that speaks to you.

*Wild Geese*

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.

Meanwhile the wild geese,
high in the clear blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are,
no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

~ Mary Oliver

Have a good week!


Kathleen Doyle-White

Pathfinders Coaching (503) 296-9249

© Copyright 2010 Pathfinders Coaching, Scout Search, Inc., all rights reserved.