Category Archives: Gratitude Journal

Finding Lost Things

By Cheryl Renee Long

“Snowy Owl.” Watercolor by Cheryl Renee Long.
I see owls  as messengers between worlds. I call this space between worlds “parallel reality.”
This is my story. 


I went out of my way to see and hear popular poet David Whyte. I could read his poetry in his exquisite backpack book, but no, it was his voice I wanted to hear.

David Whyte’s mother was from Waterford, Ireland. and his father was a Yorkshireman. He attributes his poetic interest to both the songs and poetry of his mother’s Irish heritage and to the landscape of West Yorkshire. 

I fought rush hour traffic that day to see him and to hear him read his own work. I wanted to understand his internal path to his unique ideas. Perhaps he is informed by his mother’s ancient Irish tradition; I don’t know, but he takes me new places.

David Whyte arrived to a full house, and he read my favorite poems. For over an hour, his hypnotic voice filled the room. People paid rapt attention-writing in tiny journals, falling under his spell.

Excerpt from David Whyte’s poem, “Consolations”

When he finished, 300 people started to breathe again, looking at each other with amazement in their eyes.  After the reading, David signed books, standing to greet people close up, face to face. He had an exchange with each person including me.

I commented that the theme of the evening seemed to be children. He agreed, and I gave him a warm smile of thanks.

“Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
to learn

anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive

is too small for you.”

David Whyte, The House of Belonging

As I stepped away, my hand moved to the collar of my hooded coat. Precisely at the moment I left David, my hand found a long lost silver feather pin under my collar, a precious pin, given to me with love that I thought I had lost.

Finding lost things…like this silver feather pin…

I thought: a magical intended coincidence!

In the next moment my hand went to my pocket, and there I found a long lost turquoise bracelet.

Finding lost things…like this turquoise bracelet…

It might be easy enough to say, “Well Cheryl, you only wear this dressy Pendleton coat a few times a year.”

But I know, during the time with David Whyte, something in me slipped through into a parallel reality. My new year cycle initiated just then.  The old  year ended, and the new year began with recovering something invisible yet visible and sacred.

With his signature charm and searching insight, David Whyte meditates on the frontiers of the past, present and future, sharing two poems inspired by his niece’s hike along El Camino de Santiago de Compostela in Spain.

This talk was presented at an official TED conference.

What Are You Thankful For?

As my Meditations on Gratitude online class with Laura Valenti continues, we are encouraged to look around us at everyday moments and objects as worthy a moment of gratitude.  I have been taking photographs around the property to celebrate this little corner of the world one quiet corner of June 2016.

I am very grateful to have married into this house 22 years ago. Here, I am outside shooting through the living room window with a close up on a grouping of masks and other sculptural objects. The window glass is reflecting the trees behind me.

I like this shot because it conveys the sense I always have of our house being like a longhouse, full of mythological beings, adrift with stories and dreams.

When we were having our car breakdown and accidental extra nine days of vacation in Carmel earlier this year, Peter bought Bunny for me. I have become very attached to Bunny, and sometimes she sits in the living room window and waits for me to come home.

Cheshire Cat: Oh, by the way, if you’d really like to know, he went that way.

Alice: Who did?

Cheshire Cat: The White Rabbit.

Alice: He did?

Cheshire Cat: He did what?

Alice: Went that way.

Cheshire Cat: Who did?

Alice: The White Rabbit.

Cheshire Cat: What rabbit?

Alice: But didn’t you just say – I mean – Oh, dear.

Cheshire Cat: Can you stand on your head?

Alice: Oh!

Perdita in the Window. My sister Cheryl gave me Perdita for my birthday, made by a Mexican doll-maker. My photography teacher said she looks like a visionary or seer, and I agree.

This is the exterior of our house, guarded by a Native American Sisiutl or double-headed sea serpent, which is the Guardian of the House of the Sky People, painted on there by Peter one fine day. 

Using my Go Pro, I shot from the outside of our living room looking in, accentuating the fish eye quality. I like this picture because it is odd and yet sees right through the house.

I love this photograph of our house from the living room window straight through the airy spaces to the garden.

Peter’s totem poles out in the garden are starting to settle into their places ever more deeply, here disappearing into the fennel.

What is around you in your everyday world that YOU are thankful for?