interdependence of being


“If you feel lost, disappointed, hesitant, or weak, return to yourself, to who you are, here and now and when you get there, you will discover yourself, like a lotus flower in full bloom, even in a muddy pond, beautiful and strong.”
― Masaru Emoto

It is no secret that I miss the chickens. There have been no greater teachers than these two legged little dinosaurs with wings. When there was danger, they knew all the right trees in which to hide. When they needed love, even the old giant rooster, they would come to the back porch for snuggles. If there were goodies to be had, they never horded them for later, but instead savored the delights as they were given.

Sadly…not everyone say the Wisdom of Chickens, so we had to find them a new home. It was a choice that was made out of fear, as I was too worried about upsetting the status quo. Finally, it seemed, life was settling down. There was consistency. Nothing was dramatic or horrible, and there was a bit of comfort.


“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”
― Frank Herbert

And so began a very long period of what I’d like to call, “The Troubles.” Looking back at it now, Wisdom appears in the situations, but during the span of nearly four years, every single Fear manifested in my life. No exaggeration – it happened. During this time when nearly everything felt like it was on fire all the time, a little perspective was gained.

“Whatever is not yours … your letting go of it will be for your longterm happiness & benefit.” from the Na Tumhaka Sutta (Buddhist tradition)


There is a story about how a wise person learned how to “feed the demons” that lurked in his soul. Each day a meal was set out in front of each box that contained a certain aspect of life – greed, fear, longing, and so on. With the “demons” fed, they could no long cause harm, and stayed away from the Soul. In modern times there are several cultures and faith systems that participate in processes just like this – keeping that which bothers them in a safe space, so that life may never be troubling. But…how will we ever begin to shine, if we should never, not ever, feel a rub? (nod to Rumi for the inspiration)

Summer is coming, and I feel something new blooming within me. For so long it was my way to blather all about in online, especially social media, so that others could come along and see the Beauty that was presenting itself in my life. But what would happen was that the filters of their own issues presented in my garden. Their boogies, stinky old flowers, and insecure feelings can to roost in my safe place. Even more wild was that I actually let those things in my own self. Better to have something than nothing, right…even if it caused me more pain than growth.

The greatest fear of humanity, or at least one of the biggies, is being utterly alone. Advertising companies, Facebook, and politicians play upon that fear. We fall prey to the “us versus them” psycho-babble, allowing ourselves to despise the “other” instead of love them.

From First John 4:18 “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” Even though I’m not a big fan of “verse picking,” this pretty much sums up a lot of what Mystics say – fear is not the enemy, because love can cast out all doubt.

And how can one truly worry about being “alone” when we are truly connected to every little thing around us. Theologians and scientists agree – we are made of everything we see. The “kingdom,” so to speak, is within us…as well as all around us. We are amazing human machines, part of an intricate web of life that shines brighter than 100 suns.

much love,
keu/yarn and zen

soul geography


“Inspiration is always a surprising visitor.” ― John O’Donohue

Long ago my Dad gave me a great piece of advice. He dispensed this wisdom to me after meeting a gentleman I’d been dating. The words were simple, and didn’t wax eloquent: “Watch out for those who have an ‘I’ problem.”

Years after that moment, my spiritual midwifery teacher asked me to write a biography without using the word, “I.” Taking it even deeper, she had me take all references to my Self out of what was being written. It was a totally frustrating experience that taught me quite a bit about inner perception…and how we sometimes mask our being more than we should.

As someone who has been in the position of being the mentor, or teacher, it is very hard to talk about  what is going on in my space right now. Life, shall we say, is just a little bit untethered.. There is a fatigue in my system that will not allow anything other than rest and self-care. As professionals work to find what is wonky in my physiology and anatomy, my goal is to solve the mystery of what is weakening my Spirit. Thankfully my noggin seems to be doing okay, but it does have limitations. If the body says, “SLEEP,” it abides by those commands. If my spirit says, “QUIET,” the mind wrestles to be still.

Better said, in layman’s terms, I’m lost. Like so far into the weeds that even my internal Seeker has given up, gone home, and is enjoying a nice long soak in the tub.

The thing about being lost, however, is this — it makes me so happy to be “lost.” For far too many years I’ve been so sure, and so “in control,” that nothing fantastic could happen. Always having the right answer for everything can really wear out your gears. You realize that it’s not the journey, or even the destination, but more the sincere wildness of being alive. There is pure potential in unknowing, and that is exactly where I need to be…for now.

And now it’s time for more rest. Rejoice! Rejoice! All is as it should be…

~ keu/yarnandzen


All the great ones were once seekers


Last night I dreamed that are new kitten was staring at me through the darkness. He had a very important message to tell me. His eyes were imploring me to look a little deeper at the places within me that have been left weary and alone. It was a soft and kind experience…

“Your soul knows the geography of your destiny. Your soul alone has the map of your future, therefore you can trust this indirect, oblique side of yourself. If you do, it will take you where you need to go, but more important it will teach you a kindness of rhythm in your journey.” ― John O’Donohue

For almost 4 years I’ve been wandering in the wilds. Currently I am so unbelievably lost and weary that it seems like my being has always been in this place. Life circumstances, along with my own inner work, tossed me into a long-term place of Unknowing. This goes beyond any “dark night of the soul” experience, and it is most surely doesn’t seem to be meandering towards Gnosis.

In case you are worrying, this is not a dip into the ocean of depression (although I do work my way through anxiety and sensory issues daily)…trust me, I’ve already checked on that one. While there are emotional/mental challenges that come around me, there is no despair.

What does loom near me is a specter of Restlessness. She is dressed in the most fantastic fabric, luminous and bold. Each strand of her hair beckons me to gaze fully into realms unknown. She is not forceful, and doesn’t wish to be overwhelming. However, and this is a big however, Her goal is to make me feel just a little bit uneasy. The mirror She carries reflects to me the glittery parts of my Soul, and it seems like this might be the time to let them shine.

Many moons ago, when I was a professional life coach, one of the techniques in the program was to use the phrase, “If I had all the money and time in the world, what would I do?” as a journal prompt. From there they would create a vision board, or do a creative piece about that entry. After that clients would go through intense one on one discussions about their goals, working through any blocks that prevented forward movement.

Over 80% of my clients ended up with vastly differently “goals” by the end of their work. And of those folks, 100% of them had nearly the same pathways laid out. Yep, you read that correctly – 80% of my clients were in the same boat after the end of their time with me. At the end of the seeking and longing, they began to hear the lyrics of their own song.

During my time in the therapy and advocacy work, some friend and I came up with something we jokingly called “Moses Syndrome.” Of course we all had it, and could easily spot our clients that had it as well. The criteria for this syndrome was easy: 1) you had to help everyone else first, 2) you had to constantly seek validation from others that what you were doing was, in fact, the path for you, 3) you must engage in the talk of “if not me, then who?”, 4) you had to be okay with not entering the “promised land” yourself.

If you want to know why therapists and counselors have such a high burn out rate, just let me know. However, you’ll have to wait until my Sabbatical is over to get the answer.

Are you wondering about those clients that had the same experiences? Even though I tried to distract you, there is a though in the back of your mind wandering around. You might not even realize it, but science tells me that it is there.

Here is a hint — it was two things, simultaneously, that came up. The words were different, but the sentiment was the same.

So in my longer-than-expected time of wandering, I’ve really looked at these things. I’ve also looked at how much I was in love with being the person that helped everyone else. It wasn’t/isn’t martyr syndrome, nor is it the above mentioned issue, but more like a need to find my own bearings.

On this 2nd day of June, 24 hours after my decision to continue my Sabbatical for at least one more month, there is something that has come to pass…

It is time for radical active listening (to my Self and to others), and for internal authenticity. Both of these will be in safe and healthy places that have strong boundaries. And, truthfully, it is time to start writing again. Not just for myself, but out in the big old wide world.

As the Mystics and Wise People have said…

“Not all who wander are lost.”

Much love,
keu/ Yarn & Zen

Breaking down of existing forms


“The most difficult times for many of us are the ones we give ourselves.”
― Pema Chödrön

For the past few weeks I’ve been seriously considering selling all of my fabric and crafts stash. There is an importance behind this thought, as we have quite a few intense medical bills that are already racking up. My reality is that some of my family members deal with rare disorders/health concerns that require trips to specialists, as well as numerous tests and lab work.

What also trails along in these thoughts, is that I grow weary of managing all these things. It is so difficult for me to move items from place to place, and I most surely do not have the “time” to work on ideas that might prove lucrative at some unknown future point.

And some real talk here — I’m just not that into being “artsy” anymore. My heart calls out for me to work with what brings me peace. Twenty some odd years as a self-representing artist has totally burned me out. It is hard for me to even work on a coloring sheet, or doodle in my journal. My hands yearn and long to heal and help. My heart wishes to sit in quiet moments with folks. My head needs to discharge all the stories and tales that have built up.

One of my favorite points in Zen is that we have the ability to change what is going on around us. Like the quote above states, most of what muddles up our thoughts is what we brought into our own space. Yes, there are the “others” that can cause little ripples…but invariably it is our own mind that troubles us.

Just a few things to ponder…

Much love,
Yarn And Zen

Same as it ever was…


“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.”  ― Alan W. Watts

Yesterday I went back and forth in time. It was a brilliant experience that involved my whole being – body, mind, spirit.

It was also April Fool’s Day, and the kick off to several “awareness” months. For those literary folks, it began the month of writing poetry.

Life is such a glorious gem of wonderful…

yarn and zen


In the land of topsy-turvy


Image copyright Kim Upton (c) 2010-2017

“Tomorrow and plans for tomorrow can have no significance at all unless you are in full contact with the reality of the present, since it is in the present and only in the present that you live. There is no other reality than present reality, so that, even if one were to live for endless ages, to live for the future would be to miss the point everlastingly.”
― Alan W. Watts

Last week I made my first length of hairpin lace. It was such a Zen experience…hook, pull through, turn, repeat.

“Who would then deny that when I am sipping tea in my tearoom I am swallowing the whole universe with it and that this very moment of my lifting the bowl to my lips is eternity itself transcending time and space?”
― D.T. Suzuki

When I am working with yarn, it helps me find my place in space. Sometimes my mind tends to wander into places it doesn’t belong – worry, doubt, stress.

For those that are new to my world, I’m on sabbatical from my work in community ministry. This is not your typical “church” kind of work, but an interfaith path that includes all the people. At the end of last year I was so very burnt out…nearly 15 years of working with people in need can take its toil on your system. Along with that, I’m a Momma and wife, so my time was starting to get a little bit wonky. One can only keep up a break-neck pace for so long.

It has been a nice little break…but now I’m starting to miss folks. I’ll reach over to text someone, or check on a family, and I remember that this is a year of rest. At the core of this concern, I think, is that my heart worries for those in need. Who will set the table for those who are hungry? Who will give clothing to those who are cold? Will I even *want* to return to community work at the end of this year?

“Your life is your practice. Your spiritual practice does not occur someplace other than in your life right now, and your life is nowhere other than where you are. You are looking for answers, insight, and wisdom that you already possess. Live the life in front of you, be the life you are, and see what you find out for yourself.”
― Karen Maezen Miller

And then my mind returns to just being in the moment. To try and control my situation is not good for anyone. It is not my job to be concerned over unknown details. The work is to be authentic and kind – walking with intention through life. As Julian of Norwich said, “All shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.” And so it is…and so it shall be.

There is yarn calling to me, and it is time for me to do what is in front of me.

keu/Yarn and Zen

Happy Spring!


“You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep Spring from coming.” ― Pablo Neruda


This is the new site for Yarn and Zen. Not sure in what direction it will go, but I know that it will be a little easier to post here…instead of the blogger site.

Looking forward to re-connecting to folks!

Much love,
keu/Yarn and Zen