Tangled Up in Blue: Zen Practice and Depression (edited version)

Laura Hitt:

A profound writing about Zen and depression. This week I still think about the passing of Robin Williams, my own struggle with depression and my beautiful young students and their struggles with depression, anxiety, and addictions. We are all on this path together. May we breathe deeply and know that simply taking one step on a walk outdoors or take pen to page or calling a friend…or or or…we are alone and never alone. May the gifts be received by each of us. Big love to all. Truly. Laura

Originally posted on Clear View Blog:

Right now I can’t read too good

Don’t send me no more letters, no

Not unless you mail them from

Desolation Row

— from “Desolation Row” by Bob Dylan

 It starts with dread.  In a distant city, on top of the covers in a two-star hotel, ceiling fan humming and circling slowly, mosquito net shrouding the bed.  Or driving alone on the late night interstate, rolling by strip malls and chain stores.  Or walking down an everyday street, feeling empty inside. Dread has a physical quality — a dead weight on my chest and shoulders, a gnawing sensation in my stomach. Nausea.  A wish to jump out of my skin.

Within these sensation there is loneliness, despair, and the certainty of ceaseless separation.  The dread is that my life will be like this from now on, and that it always has been like this and I have been so…

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World Poetry Day

How curious, today is World Poetry Day…this was declared by the UN in 1999! Very funny. Every day is pretty much poetry day for me. Here is a short poem by Richard Wright, who wrote many haiku. Published a whole book of them actually…which I purchased and seem to have loaned to someone. So, here are two that I was able to find and like ever so. #readwritespeakthinkseepoetrynow 

I am nobody:
A red sinking autumn sun
Took my name away.

A sleepless spring night:
Yearning for what I never had
And for what never was.

-Richard Wright, from “Haiku: This Other World,” by Richard Wright
(Arcade, 1998)

Home sick

Yes, I’m “home” today. Buried under my covers. Stomach pain. Dizziness. Thinking about home…what that has ever meant, to you, and to me. Is it a location? Where we hail from? Where we currently revive ourselves? Time and again I identify the road as my familiar abode…in motion, in transit, on the go…rather than a place of stillness and rooted residence.

But one day, when young and living in NYC, in deep despair, I sat on the Lincoln Center steps outside of Juilliard. It was there that my breath became conscious. Inhalation…exhalation. I was smoking at the time…smoking a cig just having quit my waiting tables job. On those steps a moment of insight took root. Insight that unwittingly changed the contour of my life.

The one place I may not escape, until “I” is no longer, the never ceasing rhythm of inspire…expire. And so where I call “home” discovered to be born of movement, pointing to a place of flesh, bones, blood, and air. Embodiment of earth and air. This home, so often neglected, unnoticed and undervalued, stays with me, sustains me; allows for float, root, and whimsy as I search for one place to create and embrace. To allow breath of play and sigh of relief move this space of spine and heart..where a recognition, nearly forgotten, breathes deepening of interior. Home remembered of unrelenting diastole to systole…vacuum abhorrent. The heart sitting atop the dome of diaphragm that may never not reawaken to re-membering where all of us, no matter how dim our reckoning, live…at home, again.

Ruth Buzzi!

Laura Hitt:

I love the birds;) Thanks to Trav S.D. aka Travalanche for posting this.

Originally posted on Travalanche:


Today is the birthday of comedienne Ruth Buzzi (b. 1936). I’ve always felt a special connection to her because she was born in the same hospital as me (Westerly Hospital, Rhode Island) and my parents used to boast of having drunk with her father, a sculptor and monument-maker, in local bars. She was raised in Wequetecock, Connecticut and she’s never hidden her strong Southern New England accent, which to me, always sounds like home.

Buzzi had a sort of charmed career. She studied at the Pasadena Playhouse right out of high school and got her first professional job at age 19, performing in a touring show with Rudy Vallee. She played in such tours, off-Broadway revues and summer stock for years before things started to break for her in the mid 60s. She played Dom DeLuise’s assistant in a comedy magic act, got regular shots on national tv programs…

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A Tragic Day for Public Education in North Carolina

Laura Hitt:

Why does it feel like a snowball bowling over what we once thought was a democracy?

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

Yvonne Brannan of Public Schools First NC sent the following comment:

“It is a tragic day in NC for our public schools, their teachers and students. The cuts to education reflect a very aggressive attack on public education. Eliminating $110 million for teacher assistants, eliminating teacher tenure, eliminating class size limits for K-3, no raise again this year, all of these unnecessary cuts wipe out three decades of steady progress. The most damaging is allowing for our hard earned tax dollars to be transferred to private schools. The privatization of public schools threatens the very cornerstone of our democracy and violates our state constitution. This is beyond comprehension and represents the worst public policy I have ever witnessed in NC History. These cuts to public education will have a direct impact at the classroom level, impacting every single one of our 1.5 million public school children. The General Assembly has…

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Arm and shoulder

Of the left side,

Let me introduce myself,

O, side of the imaginative


I ready myself.

Bend the elbow

close, to hug my body.

My hand makes a fist.

I may fight, or

I may lift my arm to the sky.


to reach out to fly

along the contour of the horizon

where heaven  meets earth,

here re

sides pain.

My heart arm may reach up to heaven

or prepare to defend,

but to reach wide into the plane

of the plains…

this contracts into spasm, cries out.

Arms of the heart/voice

must meet the land of S/elf/ves.

To be

without defense *or* assistance.


The fire of injury screams out,

“how could you be so insensitive,

uncaring?! Aren’t you listening?!”  

Turning inward to explore

desire for a full bodied

voice of gesturing sound,

I discover invitations.

To partner with the dance of

the elbow, where she leads me -

deltoid shrieks and then



for an other kind of awareness,

for an other kind of strength.

Softening into     

                        allowing space,

courage of the heart

opening into the expanse of

two                              arms

feeling da Vinci’s Renaissance

Vitruvian, architectural/fluid expanse of



She stands within me.

I forgot her.

She stands within me.

I welcome her back.

She’s re-membering me



Mirrors for one another

smile into this aching center

that flips into an

impulse desire for

slow dance of spine expanse,

play of

de de de

de light ed

resonance, of wails

meeting spaciousness turning

into floating fields

of vibrancy of


 Laura Hitt – February 5, 2013


Inaugural Poem – “One Today”

Inaugural Poem – “One Today”

The Inaugural Poem. 

Read by the poet, January 21, 2013

“One Today”

-Richard Blanco

One sun rose on us today, kindled over our shores,
peeking over the Smokies, greeting the faces
of the Great Lakes, spreading a simple truth
across the Great Plains, then charging across the Rockies.
One light, waking up rooftops, under each one, a story
told by our silent gestures moving behind windows.

My face, your face, millions of faces in morning’s mirrors,
each one yawning to life, crescendoing into our day:
pencil-yellow school buses, the rhythm of traffic lights,
fruit stands: apples, limes, and oranges arrayed like rainbows
begging our praise. Silver trucks heavy with oil or paper—
bricks or milk, teeming over highways alongside us,
on our way to clean tables, read ledgers, or save lives—
to teach geometry, or ring-up groceries as my mother did
for twenty years, so I could write this poem.

All of us as vital as the one light we move through,
the same light on blackboards with lessons for the day:
equations to solve, history to question, or atoms imagined,
the “I have a dream” we keep dreaming,
or the impossible vocabulary of sorrow that won’t explain
the empty desks of twenty children marked absent
today, and forever. Many prayers, but one light
breathing color into stained glass windows,
life into the faces of bronze statues, warmth
onto the steps of our museums and park benches
as mothers watch children slide into the day.

One ground. Our ground, rooting us to every stalk
of corn, every head of wheat sown by sweat
and hands, hands gleaning coal or planting windmills
in deserts and hilltops that keep us warm, hands
digging trenches, routing pipes and cables, hands
as worn as my father’s cutting sugarcane
so my brother and I could have books and shoes.

The dust of farms and deserts, cities and plains
mingled by one wind—our breath. Breathe. Hear it
through the day’s gorgeous din of honking cabs,
buses launching down avenues, the symphony
of footsteps, guitars, and screeching subways,
the unexpected song bird on your clothes line.

Hear: squeaky playground swings, trains whistling,
or whispers across café tables, Hear: the doors we open
for each other all day, saying: hello, shalom,
buon giorno, howdy, namaste, or buenos días
in the language my mother taught me—in every language
spoken into one wind carrying our lives
without prejudice, as these words break from my lips.

One sky: since the Appalachians and Sierras claimed
their majesty, and the Mississippi and Colorado worked
their way to the sea. Thank the work of our hands:
weaving steel into bridges, finishing one more report
for the boss on time, stitching another wound
or uniform, the first brush stroke on a portrait,
or the last floor on the Freedom Tower
jutting into a sky that yields to our resilience.

One sky, toward which we sometimes lift our eyes
tired from work: some days guessing at the weather
of our lives, some days giving thanks for a love
that loves you back, sometimes praising a mother
who knew how to give, or forgiving a father
who couldn’t give what you wanted.

We head home: through the gloss of rain or weight
of snow, or the plum blush of dusk, but always—home,
always under one sky, our sky. And always one moon
like a silent drum tapping on every rooftop
and every window, of one country—all of us—
facing the stars
hope—a new constellation
waiting for us to map it,
waiting for us to name it—together.

And with that, the first immigrant, first Latino, the first openly gay person and the youngest ever chosen became the U.S. inaugural poet.

My daily Present moment. And yours?

There’s a *lot* of inspiration available to each of us every day. How often do we slow down enough to notice? How often do we pause and allow it to settle within us? Nearly everyday after I park my car @ school, I walk past a little sanctuary of a pond, a dock, a small stand of maples, (@ least I think they’re maples), and a slope of a hill and a few rocks. Whether I meditate in the morning, read inspirational text, or rush out the door to buy a Starbuck’s as I run late, or whether I growl at the driver who doesn’t allow me to merge, whatever the morning starts off like at home and on my way to work, before I enter the door to the WVU College of Creative Arts’ doors, my path includes this greeting to the work day. As I’ve begun to do more walking meditation, this has become a kind of momentary refuge-like pause…where I am able to receive and check in with the color of the sky, the geese, or a student passing by. The only real required doing is the act of walking. Is so simple. And often the second I open that door, the mindful walk is lost to me. But I’ve come to relish these slowly cooked 5 minutes of each work day. Where do you find, as Tara Brach says, your “sacred pause”, a possible Present moment? Let me know. I’d love to hear of yours.