Listening to my Life

AM_cover_thumbWhat kind of woman is an advocate for woman’s rights in public and an abused wife in her own home?  I am that woman.  How could I have such a strong professional voice and a weak personal voice?

It would take a self-reflective journey, starting in the desert at age 55, to begin to answer these questions.  I would come to trust my small inner voice as it carried me into a more peaceful existence with myself.

First I would half to wake up.

I am excited to announce the upcoming release of my memoir, “Listening To My Life.” It is the story of my journey through fear to trust. I don’t have the exact release date but will keep you posted, hopefully mid-June. It will be available on Amazon both in print and e-book.

Say YES to Life

In today’s world of violence and uncertainty , it is easy to wrap ourselves up in a protective layer of worry and fear.  Rilke’s poem below speaks to me of living my life fully, and not letting my fears stop me from saying YES to life.

God speaks to each of us as he makes us,
then walks with us silently out of the night.

You, sent out beyond your recall,
go to the limits of your longing.
Embody me.

Flare up like flame
and make big shadows I can move in.

Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going. No feeling is final.
Don’t let yourself lose me.

Nearby is the country they call life.
You will know it by its seriousness.

Give me your hand.
Riener Maria Rilke
Rilke’s Book of Hours, by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy

May we all leave the country of seriousness and flare up like flame, living the lives we were meant to live.


The Healing Power of Poetry

Poetry is eliciting or explaining feelings in a concise and simple manner.
                                      Anita Barrows, co-author of  “Rilke’s Book of Hours”

School turned me off to poetry.  I didn’t understand all the rules teachers were trying to get me to follow, and I always seemed to interpret poetry differently than the teacher.  Mary Oliver opened my heart to poetry by introducing me to a style of poetry that was earthy, honest, concise, and mystical–her words sang to my soul.  Because of her I was able to begin exploring other poets and have found an amazing array of poets and poetry that touch my soul.

As I began a deep spiritual healing 25 years ago, her poems soothed me and deepened my understanding of my need to heal myself from old childhood messages.  Certain lines jumped out at me, lines that I sat with and reflected upon for long periods of time.  Below are lines from three different poems that became integral to my spiritual journey.

Determined to save the only life I could save             (The Journey)

I learn to let the soft animal of  my
body love what it loves  
                                                 (Wild Geese)

So I can fully live
my one wild and precious life.                                  
    ( The Summer Day)          

Weaving these three poems together offered me a mosaic of where I’d been and who I was becoming.  A product of the tight gender role expectations of the fifties, I realized how much I had abandoned my needs, wants, and self to please others.  These lines were a breath of fresh air as I began the long journey “home” to my authentic core.       

 I will always be grateful to Oliver for waking up my poetic soul.      


The Mountain Calls


It is a beautiful sunny morning here in the Northwest, and Mt. Rainier is out in all her glory.  After a long rainy winter and spring, the sun is a true gift.  My mind begins to think about hiking and returning to my sacred playground, Mt. Rainier.  I am fortunate to live close enough to drive up for day hikes on her beautiful slopes.  Nature is my church, I know I am connected to all that is when in the beauty of nature.  To commemorate Earth Day and nature’s beauty I share a poem I wrote after a wonderful hike to one of her many alpine lakes. A portion of this poem is highlighted in my new memoir Listening to My Life in the chapter titled “The Healing Power of Nature.”  My book will be launched the first part of June.

The Mountain Calls

My heart is closing,
busyness takes over the day,
the week…..the month.
My body yearns for peace,

The mountain calls.

Leaving the busyness behind,
hiking boots in hand,
I return home
to the rich landscape of the mountain.

Entering the trailhead my breath deepens.
My body moves with each breath
freeing the tightly held constraints.
The rhythm of breath….step….silence takes hold.
Head chatter stops and
I become one with the trail.

Aware only of the wind
caressing my body,
the sun washing over me,
cleansing my soul.
Birds singing their melody,
touching my heart.

My eyes open.
I see the expansive world we live in.
Snow covered peaks,
multitudes of greens covering the land.
Wildflowers…..vivd magenta, bright blues, reds,
yellows, purples, dot the velvet green.

The sound of water cascades down a rock front,
rippling through a stream.
I stop…..I listen.
Is there anything more beautiful than the sound of water?
Flowing…..ever changing, pulsing with life.

The Mountain Calls.

My ears hear the squeak of the pica,
the high whistle of the marmot,
announcing their presence to the world.

The hike continues,
a body rhythm develops with the earth.
I no longer walk on the earth,
I walk with the earth.
My heart and soul open with each step,
troubles, worries, doubts, fears…..wash away.

At trail’s end, a deep turquoise alpine lake shimmers in the sun,
nestled in trees. Wind gently creates ripples circling outward.
So easy to lose myself
in the beauty…..the serenity of this lake.

Silence the only sound.
Trees reflect on the surface,
the turquoise shifts colors,
shades of deep blue, pockets of blue green.

God, reflected in all that my eyes behold.
My heart and soul expand, absorbing the vastness,
becoming vast.
The sense of separateness is gone.
I return to my world renewed…..whole.

When the mountain calls,
I listen.

May we all cherish and protect Mother Earth everyday.



The Sage Must Travel Light

A friend sent me this poem today and I wanted to share it with you.  This is the spiritual journey for me–letting go of all those old stories that keep me from living in peace.  I love the image of the backpack.  Getting rid of those old emotions that hold us in a tight knot.  Filling our backpacks with compassion brings forth a sense of connection.  May it be so!!

            The Sage Must Travel Light
    Youth can carry a heavy load day after day
        Without noticing the damaging effects.
        But the sage must lay down the burden.
                    Resentments, regrets,
                        Injuries, slights,
            Grudges and disappointments
                Are much too cumbersome
    For a person of wisdom and contentment.
                The sage must travel light.
            There is a backpack in the mind
        Which over the years, has become
                Filled with rocks and stones.
    You do not have to carry them anymore.
                You can empty your pack
               And carry only compassion
                From one day to the next.
                        William Martin