different minds

a neighbor stands in his yard
and bemoans roads – says
he prefers wilderness
and dogs, and rails now
against the HOA and their
six brains thinking as one

but after a few too many,
wields his weed whacker –
one-handed against any blade
rising higher than some
arbitrary regulation height

we watch from my dandelions –
the dogs, the yellow cedar, and I –
different minds entirely

© Sarah Whiteley

the question

I cannot say to you
that it is deep spring –
that now when I walk
at the outset of night,
the fields are thick
with frog song

I cannot tell you
that those long talks
under the porch light
were the best moments,
and saved me many times
from myself

you are not here
to hear that these
are also the best moments,
living among the worst –

and that “yes”
would be the answer
if you’d ask again
whether I am happy

but you are not here
to ask the question,
and I am petal-deep
in memories

© Sarah Whiteley

On Easter Sunday, I lost a very dear friend to cancer. We lost him quickly, and because of our current situation, I was unable to hug him one more time in farewell. He was truly the kindest, most generous person I’d ever met. He was thoughtful, and compassionate, and gently pushed others towards compassion. I never got the chance to tell him how his presence in my life changed me for the better – saved me even. For years, he would ask me the question “are you happy?” and for years my answers fell somewhere between “well, you know” and “I’m okay” followed by a shrug. This man who genuinely cared whether or not I was happy never had the chance to hear that I was. I am finally in a space where I have room to breathe, where I am safe, where daily I can walk among trees, where I can feel some peace. And a lot of that is due to this one person who cared enough to help me ask myself what it is exactly that would make me happy. So thank you, dear Leo. I am happy. ❤

the consolation

I could not save
the goldfinch
from drowning –

for years now,
the memory
has persisted

frail the feathers,
bright the dazzle
of sun on the water

logic tells me
he was dying
regardless

and his death,
the gift of a day
that remains

© Sarah Whiteley

Life is unpredictable, and sometimes we are presented with an opportunity which drives us in a direction opposite from our original intentions. The choice to jump in one direction or the other can result in unlooked for changes. For the time being, my heart has told me to set Colorado aside and to stay where I am to see what comes of a rediscovered love. Rest assured that I am both happy and hopeful jumping in this particular direction.

In other news, PBS American Portrait reached out to me recently on Twitter and asked if I would consider sharing. And so I did, submitting under the category “My greatest challenge is…” I hope that you will take a moment read what I’ve chosen to share, and also consider sharing your own story as well as browsing through the many wonderful thoughts that others have shared.

I don’t often speak of my struggles with anxiety and depression, but they are very real parts of my life. Hiking has become a way of coming home to myself – a way of finding peace when nothing else has worked. I felt like it was important enough to share, knowing that others face the same daily battles.

With much love and appreciation,
Sarah

the accordion

whether the accordion stays or goes
becomes a matter of friendship –
and of the necessity or needlessness
of tokens of attachment

a heavy load can make for a longer road,
and other favors await a verdict –
whether box or bin, either out or in,
feeling and hand both hesitate

though the heart of the gift remains whole
in spite of this inquest –
true affection demands no keepsakes,
and gathers no dust on its bellows

© Sarah Whiteley

I am in the midst of downsizing for the big move next month. I find the days sliding by at an alarming rate, with still so much to do. It will all get done, I am certain – after much hard work and lots of letting go of the things I truly do not need. Whether the accordion makes the move with me? I’ll be sure to let you know. 🙂

finch talk

the finches had much
to say today –
about the dampness
of the day,
the amount of seed
remaining on the sill,
the early dark and
the lateness of light

winter prattlings,
cold weather natterings –
so different from
the ardent liltings
they will trade
between the buds
in the spring,
but enjoyable
to ears all the same

© Sarah Whiteley

My apologies for my absence lately. Some large projects have been keeping me rather busy which means that finding time and mental space to write has been difficult to say the least. Unfortunately, reading the blogs I subscribe to has also fallen by the wayside recently. Of course, not having internet at home since before the holidays has complicated the issue. However, that particular problem should (fingers crossed) be rectified this weekend and I will hopefully be able to start catching up on my reading and my writing soon.

My best friend and I have a hiking motto, birthed during our first adventure together through three miles of calf deep mud and down a hundred foot cliff (one of us with only one working hand at the time). That motto is “straight through the middle!” Meaning that sometimes the only way to get to where you are going is to keep moving forward. In news of the major life adventure variety, I am making arrangements to leave Seattle after many, many years and relocate to Colorado in March. The Universe has basically been yelling at me for a while now that It Is Time! So with much nervousness (and much exhilaration), I’m holding myself to that motto.

I will miss my quirky crows, my beloved Cascade Mountains, all those rainy hikes, porch beers with neighbors, and of course my best friend. But there is also so much that I am looking forward to: new hikes, new neighbors, new adventures, and finding new inspiration all around. So if I start writing about changes and leavings and whole families of dust bunnies found while cleaning out closets, you all will know why.

With much love and gratitude,
Sarah