Category: Journal Entry

To be alive is Power

Existence in itself

Without a further function

Omnipotence enough.

-Emily Dickinson

Outside, the ground is damp, but the predicted storm has not yet arrived. El Nino? At this moment, our household is still holding a California drought frame of mind.

I sit in view of an open door in what was my mother’s favorite chair; it doesn’t quite fit the decor, but I have been reluctant to let it go. A voice at the back of the house fills the soundscape. I become aware of a shoulder tightening and, slowly, lean back.

I rock gently, look outside and notice a steel grey wet veil suspended in the air, close to a mist. There is momentary silence; then, a woodpecker and dove express themselves, vociferously. I am pulled to go outside.

Wearing prescription sun glasses, which cast a warm amber over the landscape, I step on yellow-brown ash leaves that had fallen in wind pools under foot and head uphill. I drag broken branches out from under oak down one of the deer trails, reminding myself to protect the body and allow earth to carry the weight of wood.

Rescuing a jacket thrown over one of the old horse corral posts, I return to the house. Inside, our weather station tells me it is over 60 per cent humidity, and by the next day we get more than an inch of rain in less than two hours.

Two days later, what is being called a “Gustado” hits. Our power line splits. Water electrifies. Pipes melt. Smoke spills from the attic. Modern systems no longer work. And we are, powerfully, alive!


(c)Gudrun Mouw


Journal Entry

The week before Christmas, I bought my eldest grandson a present from the tool section of our local hardware mart. It was the kind of manly gift, his mom and I agreed, he would probably enjoy. At the same time, I also bought a new mop wondering about my girlhood idea of fun.

I remember that I enjoyed school, reading, and the few precious friendships I was allowed to have. An only child, my play time with other children was hampered by Old World, strict parental restrictions as well as language and cultural difficulties. Officially, I was a Displaced Person–a stranger in a strange land, which I learned to love and cherish.

Not until college, did I observe that the people I admired tended to believe a Democratic country benefits from healthy criticism. I agreed that complacent self-congratulation is not appealing. An honest examination of ideas, traditions and conventions was a new and exciting modality even as I undertook a grateful citizenship.

New YearEventually, I discovered that, as an immigrant, I have a unique perspective that benefits from my expanded geographic and cultural experience base. I gleaned appreciation for the tradition of “traveling abroad” which tends to support the value of differences as well as recognizing the underlying sameness of the human condition and aspiration.

In honor of the new year about to arrive, I wish for my grandchildren to grow, not only in physical stature, but with an expanding inner landscape of healthy curiosity, tolerance and kindness, which reminds me of the inside-outside challenge I often present to my students. When the inner and outer landscape merges, there is a kind of beautiful connectedness and synchronicity to life.

As I look outside at the view through our slider, I notice that yesterday’s rain has refreshed and enriched the earth; a lovely, new green carpets the winter meadow. Time to bundle up for a walk.

Journal Entry

greatgrandmadietrichThe forest path is no longer hard and dusty. Underneath, soft ground springs forth gratitude. Broken branches from recent wind and rain, break easily in my hand, a gift for the fireplace. Toe shoes spread and distribute weight, causing me to feel more sure-footed than age would suggest.

Gratitude expands as this morning’s fierce cold dissolves. Clouds dance off to the horizon in graceful patterns, and overhead I see a bluer blue. I have already walked over 7,000 steps today.

Later as I rest in the dining room, late afternoon sun streams a golden light through the quiet space. From behind me, the west window is reflected upon the room’s east wall. The image of the window looks wide open, as if the solid structure of the house has mysteriously dissolved.

My Great-Grandmother Dietrich, who sits at her spinning wheel inside my father’s painting hangs slightly to my left. She looks down at her work as if seeing nothing else. She appears self-contained with a secret strength. The image haunts.

Generations of lessons learned, patterns repeated, or re-arranged, give me an impetus to move towards what is still unknown. I get up. Not yet done, I go outside to greet an orange sunset and practice walking meditation as the last daylight brightens pavers underfoot.


(c) Gudrun Mouw

November 10, 2015


Journal Entry