A Birthday Story


Because I have been essentially bed-bound/apartment-bound since last July without any visitors, I had no expectations for my birthday and no plans. However, several great things happened: A friend traveled a great distance to take me to lunch at a restaurant on the street adjacent to mine. I decided to wear a dress that I have never worn out before, because I never have a place/situation to wear it. It has one long sleeve, an open back, and the other shoulder and arm completely bare. I didn’t feel comfortable taking off my coat for a long time, but finally did. At some point, a man approached me on his way out and said, “Excuse me, but I just wanted to tell you that your dress really made my day! I was sitting at that table behind you, enjoying the view the whole time. I never see anything like it, especially in this town!” I’ve never received a compliment like this in my life! And it was even more special that it happened on my birthday! His decision to share how I brightened his day with me (instead of keeping it to himself) really made my day in turn! I broke my diet and enjoyed some scallops in a cream sauce. And when I returned home, I found out that another friend had sent me a beautiful arrangement of flowers! I also picked up my car from an oil change and spent some time giving the owner tips on how to reduce the pain he has been experiencing in his upper arm and shoulder due to major surgery he had 10 weeks ago. This was the first time he has ever been injured in his life (!) and he said he has been popping ibruprofen pills like candy! He is also used to sleeping only 3-4 hours per day! Sometimes, I can’t believe how different human lives can be! It felt great to connect with someone and share some things that I have learned.
I haven’t been able to participate much at all in the world for a long time now, but the universe reminded me in several ways that my life is still meaningful and that there are some who still care! I am appreciative. Today I am trying my best to recover from being awake for 15 straight hours yesterday- something I haven’t been able to do for a very, very long time.


Appalachian Trail Video

This is a beautifully produced short video on the story of Appalachian Trail angel, “Ponytail Paul” (who I never met). It demonstrates the healing power of nature and hiking trails for those who walk them and those who build their lives around them. I often get asked what kind of people hike long trails. I almost always answer that it is ultimately a healing journey. The first person who hiked the entire length of the Appalachian Trail (in 1948) was World War 2 veteran Earl Shaffer, to “walk off the war”. He suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. As time has gone on, more and more people have found the peace that living and walking in nature provides. Please enjoy the beautiful videography of some of the AT in Maine, along with the story of Paul.


“Clearing” by Martha Postlewaite


“Do not try to save
the whole world
or do anything grandiose.
Instead, create
a clearing
in the dense forest
of your life
and wait there
until the song
that is your life
falls into your own cupped hands
and you recognize and greet it.
Only then will you know
how to give yourself
to this world
so worthy of rescue.”

-Martha Postlewaite

“Love After Love” by Derek Walcott

“The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.”

-Derek Walcott