Are You Wasting Enough Time?

Royal.ArchThis morning I ran across an interesting article in the Harvard Business Review by game designer and MacArthur winner, Jane McGonigal. I feel I should be “doing something” productive all the time. But I look out my office windows into Boulder Canyon. Sometimes snow is falling, or the squirrel is jumping branch to branch from the nest, or a raven calls from the lodge pole pines. My mind drifts. I’m not wasting anything.

Here’s the link:


Connect. You don’t have to go alone.

HikingWhen you face another challenge, reach out to others. Connect with someone.

Let someone care. Hold each other when the going gets steep. Take one step at a time. Look ahead.

Share your trail mix. Just ask. Others have been here before, and they can and will help you find the way.

Andromeda, Parasitic Pinedrops, Family Systems and Multigenerational Transmission

AndromedaHow are Pinedrops, parasitic plants, pine trees, Andromeda, and multigenerational transmission of abuse, trauma, and family dysfunction related? This question began to form as I hiked with a Native Plant Society group.

Andromeda, according to Greek myth, was the daughter of Cassiopeia who boasted that Andromeda was more beautiful than the Nereids. Hades was enraged. As punishment (for her mother’s boasting), Andromeda was stripped and chained naked to a rock, destined to be a sacrifice.  Hades ordered Poseidon to send a sea monster to destroy her. However, Andromeda was saved by the hero, Perseus.

A parasite is an organism that depends on a different organism for basically everything, while contributing nothing to the survival of its host. Pinedrops are parasitic, but not directly parasitic on pine trees. Pinedrops are directly parasitic on mycorrhizal fungi which, in turn, are directly parasitic on conifer roots. Without this indirect association with the roots, Pinedrops wouldn’t grow, access nourishment, and have shelter. However, Pinedrops have very little chlorophyll, are therefore not green, and do not photosynthesize.

Pterospora Andromedea

According to Family Systems counseling theory, unresolved family problems are passed down through the generations. There are emotional forces that operate over the years in interconnected patterns. The energies in the system work to preserve the status quo. Anyone who questions what’s going on, anyone who names the elephant in the room, anyone who tries to/does disengage, anyone who becomes aware and conscious and differentiated, anyone who heals, threatens the system and becomes the family target. Consciousness, truth, and strong healthy choices are enemies of projection, generations of abuse, shame, secrets, emotional triangles, and lies .

So, Pinedrops are directly parasitic to fungi and indirectly parasitic to conifers. Was Andromeda like the conifers, caught in the destructive forces of the Greek pantheon family system? Was innocent Andromeda in a parasitic family system, forced to almost pay with her life for her mother’s hubris, the Nereids’ jealousy, and her father’s rage, indirectly exercised through another family member, Poseidon? Who was and is “Perseus”?


Mutualism: Ants and Plants

AntsThe Denver Botanic Gardens has a tropical rainforest pavilion. I, on a mission, went to see Dale Chihuly’s installations, but found the “Ants and Plants” wonderful. You probably know that “symbiosis” means “together + life”. A common example is of orchids clinging to trees for dear life. But there are types of “mutualism” that benefit both, like ants and plants. Ants burrow into plant stems for shelter, and the plants benefit from nourishment (droppings), cleaning, disbursement, and defense. Wow, like healthy families, parents and children, partners, spouses. We need each other.

Thamnophis gigas, thamnophis gigas



Raspberry Corner

RaspberryOn the way to bring my grandchildren home, I always pass the corner lot where an old man lives and tends his raspberry canes. “They’re looking good,” I say to the kids. “Yeah, they TASTE good,” my grandson says. “I don’t usually like raspberries, but he always lets us have some when I walk the dogs (Gussie, Shaggy, and Merlin (Labradors)), and they’re really sweet.”

“Why do you think he’s out there every afternoon?” I ask. I wonder if he’s a widower, as I never see anyone else around. He is so gentle with the canes. I almost hear him whispering to them.

“Because he likes raspberries,” the other young one in the back seat says. Why do I feel the sting of tears? Life can be so simple.

Last weekend, I was out cycling with women friends. The sky was blue, clouds piling up over the near mountain range. In the paceline, I turned my head. A midnight raven drafted the echelon. “Oh, Trickster,” I thought. “I’ve seen you before. You and your sister guarded the sacred cove on the remote northern British Columbia island when I surfed the waves up onto the midden beach in my kayak. I was wet, tired, and hungry. You didn’t fly away. I called the wolves from where I drank at the mossy stream in the shadow of the shaggy cedar totem poles. Suddenly, I was afraid as the pack streaked from the point towards me. I remember crashing through the brush, running wildly to the beach, jumping in my kayak, paddling offshore, my heart pounding. The wolves never came.

You tricksters laughed. I couldn’t paddle any further that day. I was cold, shakey-hungry, miles to go next day with the tides. I wondered, were you there, later, when the pack circled my tent in the moonlight, panting and sniffing. Did you shape-shift like coyote, watching?”

I watch an old man tend raspberries, a boy walk his dog, and the wheel of the rider in front of me.