Improvised Life » poems If you can't hunt with a dog, hunt with a cat... Fri, 12 Sep 2014 08:00:14 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Re-entry…What We Learned On Our Summer Stay-cation Tue, 02 Sep 2014 08:01:28 +0000


Monday evening of Labor Day, we could positively FEEL the shift of air and energy as the entire country grabbed every last BIT before the official end of summer. In the park we look out on, there was SERIOUS barbecue action, music, dancing, LIFE going on. We spent the day hanging on the terrace reflecting on our three-week stay-cation that turned out way different than we had imagined. (more…)

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Life Lesson from a Simple Kid’s Lanyard Mon, 11 Aug 2014 08:58:12 +0000

Susan Dworski

Recently, I discovered a forgotten neon pink plastic lanyard at the bottom of a basket of cat toys. Made at summer camp two years ago, it was a gift from a small person, presented with a shy smile "I made it, just for you." When I read this poem by poet Billy Collins, I suddenly felt saddened that I had been so cavalier in discounting its importance. Finding it again felt huge––like a redemption.]]> 5
How to Think in Haiku (and a Haiku about Grasses) Mon, 21 Jul 2014 08:41:12 +0000

Sally Schneider

At the very end of May, we planted grasses in the planter on the Laboratory’s patio. Since then, they’ve grown like wild fire, along with the Morning Glory vine we plunked into their soil to further screen us from our neighbors. We love watching the grasses move in the breeze; they seem to constantly change and catch the light in new ways.  The other day, we read a haiku by Issa that revealed a quality that we hadn’t been conscious of:  (more…)

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‘To Come Home to Yourself’, John O’Donohue’s Blessing Mon, 07 Jul 2014 08:17:40 +0000

We learned of Irish poet John O’Donohue when reader Mary Kelly sent us his powerful words in response to our post about Human Error Messages. She wrote:

John O’Donohue, who wrote Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom and who celebrated our wildness and crazy strength, often has words that dissolve hardness inside me – I read this yesterday and it made me feel soft and new . . .

The blessing/poem/prayer is called To Come Home to Yourself.  A reminder we can use daily.



Thank you Mary Kelly and for your own very descriptive word: “celebrate our wildness and crazy strength” (more...)]]> 1 Where do you find “clear profit?” Tue, 17 Jun 2014 08:47:19 +0000

Clear profit. We DO have that in the sky, friends and our daily interactions with our readers, who always surprise.Can that profit pay the bills and all that goes into making Improvised Life? The jury's out. It makes us wonder: What IS this stuff called money, really? Our friend Holton Rower makes art out of it!]]> 0
How Poetry Comes to Me (Gary Snyder) Mon, 09 Jun 2014 23:00:01 +0000

Gary Snyder

When inspiration comes: you have to go to meet it…


From one of our favorite, endlessly-yielding books: The Gary Snyder Reader: Prose, Poetry, and Translations. Open it anywhere to find a nugget.




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Maya Angelou’s Wise Words about Life and Table Thu, 29 May 2014 23:00:31 +0000

Maria Robledo

On Wednesday, Maria Robledo sent us this image of a quote by writer and civil rights activist Maya Angelou:

Sitting down to a table is one of the few times we can be intimate with one another.

We were stunned by Angelou’s words. We believe them deeply, but had not consciously realized that what happens when people sit together at table is truly “intimacy”, until we read her perfect quote.  We planned to write about that idea — about making a space and time to sit at table, and just how valuable and potent an act it is —when the following day, yesterday, we learned that Angelou had passed away.

The women had a WAY with words and with living. So we’ve selected a few here as tribute. (more…)

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The Last of the Cherry Blossoms with Haiku Thu, 15 May 2014 08:09:02 +0000

Sally Schneider

Last week’s wild weather knocked most of the glorious cherry blossoms off the trees. We found ourselves walking through a wondrous pink “snow”, and noticed the tulips filled with it.

We sent a photo of this surprising landscape to a few friends. One sent back a haiku by the Japanese poet Dosho: (more…)

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Sharing Excerpts of Books via Text Message Mon, 05 May 2014 08:41:41 +0000

Sally Schneider

The other day, a friend texted smartphone snapshots from a book she was reading: whole pages, with passages she found illuminating marked in pencil. She regularly exchanges excerpts of readings like this with a group of friends.

We read the passages while waiting for a bus, the perfect little mind shift and reflection. It’s one of the best uses for SMS messaging we’ve seen, as though our friend was putting the book into our hands or reading the paragraph directly to us.  (more…)

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10 Untranslatable Words for What You Might be Feeling or Seeing Mon, 28 Apr 2014 08:43:19 +0000

Recently, we stumbled on a post at Maptia of unique words from other cultures without real translations, compiled from Guy Deutschger’s book Through the Language Glass: Why the World Looks Different in Other Languages. These words express very specific, often subtle states. When we read them, we found we knew the feelings well, but since English doesn’t really have a single word to describe them, they often went unnoticed… (more…)

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Being Okay with Not Knowing Where You’re Going Mon, 14 Apr 2014 08:14:26 +0000

Joan Miro

We know a lot of people who are in big changes in their lives. The work they did for decades has disappeared. Or, they  simply feel a powerful need to move into new territory in the way they work or live or create. The central locus on which they relied is changing and they are once again without answers. Because life IS change, and that is the deal.


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Dept of Impermanence: Ode to Broken Things Wed, 19 Mar 2014 08:27:09 +0000

Sally Schneider

The other morning, our favorite 50’s coffee cup slipped off the counter and into the sink SLAM, right into a delicate glass: a double whammy of perfect breakage.

It was an early morning wakeup call reminder that this beautiful stuff we have is just that: NOT what’s essential, like our life and health and friends. It’s lovely to have while it lasts but fleeting.

The thing about beautiful things is: (more…)

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Fantasy Face-Lift Tue, 04 Mar 2014 09:00:15 +0000 Maria Robledo

Maria Robledo

Maria Robledo sent us some these images she found in her vast photo archive. At a photo shoot at Maria’s studio, Suzanne Shaker and I were playing “face lift”, standing behind each other and gently “lifting” the other’s face. It was a funny, weird, grown-up girls’ game played by women who’d never actually get a face lift. We’re game to go where our faces take us…

For a moment, we found a way to improvise younger selves.  (more…)

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The Thrilling Adventure of Familiar Frontiers Tue, 25 Feb 2014 09:42:33 +0000

(Video link HERE.) Mickey Smith is a surf photographer from Cornwall, England whose six minute video of wave riding in the ominous North Sea is a stunning, nail biting, vicarious experience for urbanistas and land-locked couch potatoes. But diving beyond the hair-raising visuals, listening to Smith’s philosophy of life is what makes this clip intriguing.

Smith says, “I never set out to be anything particular, only to live creatively and post the scope of my experience through adventure and passion… (more…)

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