Thanks Giving

Michael shows up often, everpresent.
Before him it was Uriel, lesserknown,
weaving great gifts from remnants of loss.
Of the seven, these are my most familiar.
Of the lesser ranks, who move about
without Virtue of card or introduction,
there are too many to count:

my oldest salvation

the one of limitless joy

the healer

the soul mate

the spirit of mother

the wise one

the sharer of words

the connoisseur

the lover

the hawk

the smallest angels

I am daily surrounded by love and light,
by blessings and spirits unyielding,
for them – and you – I am most grateful.

Poem ©2016, Jen Payne


For this
this ground beneath my feet,
the signs of seasons, yes,
and change

forever change








greatness in small things
and large
this, this ground beneath my feet

holds everything
and me

spinning forward
across a galaxy
a universe

and She
of all things
in every footstep

here, this ground beneath my feet

(Poem + Photo ©2018, Jen Payne. HAPPY THANKSGIVING!)

On Gratitude

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.” ― Melody Beattie

IMAGE: Open Door, Brittany, Henri Matisse

6 Years? You’ve Come a Long Way Baby!


The first therapist I worked with loved to torment me with moments of silence. I say torment because, for many of us, sitting with that kind of Nothingness is difficult. We immediately want to fill Nothingness up—with Busyness or Somethingness or Stuffness.

We like to fill Nothingness up with cookies! Cookies or cigarettes, alcohol, television, shopping, technology. All of those immediate-gratification things that scratch the itch just enough to let us forget. Or ignore. Or escape.

And if we don’t? GASP! If we don’t forget or ignore or escape, we have to actually face what’s inside the Nothingness, like Hurt, Sadness, Loss, Anxiety, Inadequacy, Fear, Loneliness. You know, all of those uncomfortable things we’d rather hide away than face head on.

I suppose that’s what my therapist was trying to teach me all those years ago—how to sit comfortably with that Nothingness, with that silence that makes all of the painful things louder. How else could I start to tell her about them if I didn’t know them myself? How else could I heal?

I didn’t totally understand that until SIX YEARS ago today, when I put down my last cigarette and had to sit quietly with my own painful things; when I couldn’t hide behind that cloud of smoke anymore, and had to meet my monsters face-to-face.

And that’s what I’ve been doing ever since. Face-to-face every day for the past 2,190 days. 2,190 days and counting, because there is no quid pro quo about this process. The monsters don’t disappear just because you find the courage to let go of the placebo—nor does the discomfort.

Being in the moment with those monsters is still difficult—life is difficult—but as you go along, you gain muscle memory. The more you hang out with the monsters in that fully-present kind of way, the stronger you get, and you figure out new ways to deal with those painful things that don’t involve causing yourself more pain in the process.

Sure, sometimes, you just go buy cookies…but others times you take a nice long look back and realize “You’ve Come a Long Way Baby.”

Lots of love and gratitude to the folks who were there on Day One, holding me in their hearts as I started on this journey. I, quite literally, owe you my life.

Uncharted Territory


Mermaids. Lovers Island. Gull Rocks. Umbrella Islands.

Sounds enchanting, doesn’t it?

I have been here before. On white-knuckle rides with wakes that crash onto shores and startle gulls. There is no romance to rocks at that speed.

But we took a slower pace, me and this man who breathes water like I breathe air. As sure-footed as I am on wooded paths, he is on the waterways that border the southern shore of my world. There are 22 miles of coastline here, with coves and inlets, rivers and creeks, harbors and a thousand islands from here to the horizon.

How often do I catch my breath at the beauty that is right around the corner from my day-to-day?

And how does one express gratitude for all of this? The blessing of this place. The chance to explore so slowly on a sparkling spring day. The gift of trust so surely grounded — even on water.


A new experience in my sights.


Leaving the Cove


Seeing Mermaids


Lovers Island


Cairn near Johnson Point


Rocky Shoreline


Gunkholing (look it up)







Towards Pages Cove


Umbrella Islands




Green Island




Rounding Johnson Point


Returning to Mermaids


Word & Photos ©2015, Jen Payne

On Thanksgiving


There is a bittersweetness about this day
So much for which to be grateful.

so very much

Heads bowed, we call out thanks
enumerate for gods and kin:

…..the gift of a full and prosperous year
…..the conversation of beloved friends
…..the meeting of kindred spirits
…..the wonder of natural spaces
…..the beauty of the sunrise
…..the joy of a child
…, laughter, hope

So beautiful…….but transient


How other to reconcile
this changing river beneath my feet—
this knowing
…..of time passing
…..of fleeting gifts
than to feel
so divinely blessed
it makes me weep?

Woman Praying, Vincent van Gogh

Friday Gratitude


Today I am grateful for the refresher course in Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements. These simple statements create a ripple effect of understanding, compassion and grace, both internally and externally, as we lead by example.

Be Impeccable with your Word: Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the Word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your Word in the direction of truth and love.

Don’t Take Anything Personally: 
Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.

Don’t Make Assumptions: 
Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

Always Do Your Best: 
Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.

• • •

Text from The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom (A Toltec Wisdom Book) by Don Miguel Ruiz.

Photo by Swiftblue. Please click here to see more of his stunning photography, including this one: a small Buddhist statute of a monk in prayer. This photo was taken at Hase-dera, a temple in Kamakura, Kanagawa prefecture, Japan.


Endless Gratitude


If you start at the top of the day, when you first open your eyes, and consider everything for which you can be grateful, the list is endless. Watch…


(Sight, Sound, Touch, Taste – while we’re at it)

Lola Kisses


Flannel Sheets


Running Water

Indoor Plumbing

(Did I mention socks?)


Kirshna Das


Steve Jobs (god rest his soul)


Organic, Fair Trade Coffee

(being able to afford organic, fair trade coffee)

Half and Half

Space Heaters (and socks)

Sandalwood Incense

5 a.m. Quiet

Days Off


Thanksgiving Food

Family (most especially adorable nephews)

Good Friends

Old Friends

Faraway Friends



Daily Om





…and it’s not even 7 a.m.!

(Now you try!)


Thanks Giving


“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”

– Melody Beattie