Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Leaping into Life

"it takes courage to be who you really are” e.e. cummings

The above words providentially graced the promotional postcard for my first public book reading last Saturday night in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Wow! It took more courage than I ever dreamed I had to put myself out there and LEAP into a wild new world! It only seems appropriate that on Leap Day I choose to commemorate that magnificent jump into the public limelight.

Even now my heart beats quickly and tears form in my jet-lagged eyes as I think of my precious time away. The fullness of the whole experience resonates deeply and I know that for a few moments in time I was a shining star spreading my magic into the world.

Leap Day 2008, I sat solo in a Paris café (surprising even myself) and this year I recall perching on a bar stool in the spotlight and glow of my own dreams surrounded by a rapt audience (yet one more surprise). Saturday night was amazing – terrifying – exhilarating – complete. It was absolutely perfect with the finest spectators I could imagine. This shy girl who has been known to sprout hives just thinking of speaking in public loved being on that raised stage. Woohoo! As I entered the coffee house and took my place on the platform flashes of failure and stage fright flew through my mind and body. Freeze? Flee? Or become FREE? Those seemed to be my choices... To free myself, I turned to As I Lay Pondering and offered Anyone There?—one of my most vulnerable pieces.

Will you read my work? Hold my hand? Laugh at my jokes? Kiss my lips? Notice my hair? Anyone there? Are you paying attention? Do you see me? Is it possible I still carry the look of a 1-year-old standing in her crib, reaching and searching for connection? Anyone there?

With a deep breath, I read and they were hooked. I was fully present as I slowed myself to the pace of thoughtful words. My pulse began to steady as my heart connected to my soul... and theirs. Courageously I sat all sassy in my red crocheted dress and cowboy boots surrounded by friends, family, and strangers listening to my story, and as the evening magically flowed on, “my” story became “our” story. It was an iconic event.

Who could have known I was destined to perch on a coffee house stool in Tulsa Oklahoma and launch a book that touched the heart of everyone in that room... especially my lovely sisters-in-law who became so mesmerized in the moment that they forgot their assigned tasks of photography and time-keeping, as well as my young nephews who sat tucked behind electronics? The friend I had known for over 50 years was to my right and various acquaintances and newfound soul mates filled out the audience. Even the barista offered his accolades when I finished.

It was a LEAP comprised of steps bigger than anything I could have imagined earlier in my life. One – that I would (or could) write a book; Two – that I would develop the nerve to speak in front of a crowd and become thoroughly entranced by the magic of it; and Three – I would return to the Oklahoma roots I left nearly a quarter-century ago to begin this new phase of my journey! Poet David Whyte writes, “What you can plan is too small for you to live.” How right he is!

In this special year of the Leap, what do you plan for yourself? What would you do if you had the courage to be who you really are? What does bravery look like in your life? My personal plan is to strap my parachute on tightly, ‘cuz it feels like this leap is a giant one... and I don’t want to miss a moment of it fearfully flailing away!!!

MY NEW BOOK: As I Lay Pondering: daily invitations to live a transformed life by Kayce S. Hughlett Available here and at Get your copy today!!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Daily Mosaic

The morning began with a thoughtful reading and a pondering of the line: We are each small stones rolling toward the other to create one vast mosaic.* Oh, it sounded so lovely and connected in the moment. Next I engaged in my morning meditation led by the lovely Susan Piver who ended our time together with these words: May you have a day of unspeakable clarity. Ah, stones creating a mosaic... unspeakable clarity... I was set for the day... and then I opened my email.

Greeting me I found a sweet response from a dear friend, the usual spam and inspirational messages, and a note from CreateSpace letting me know that my Kindle-ready format of As I Lay Pondering was ready for preview. Yay! The long-awaited version I had enlisted the professionals to help create. Ready. Set. Drum roll, please. Open file... Gasp. No. Say it isn’t so. Ugh. Boo. Hiss. It looks like an illiterate chimpanzee designed the tablet. (My apologies to the chimpanzee.) Seriously? This is what I jumped through hoops to enroll in, paid good money for, and waited WEEKS to receive? It is no better than the free test copy I uploaded myself before I decided to turn it over to the “experts.” What ever was I thinking? My next question was what were they thinking? – (although I said it in slightly more professional terms.)

Their response: “I am sorry to hear that your Kindle Edition is not appearing as you expected.” Seriously? Whatever... Next came rote instructions about how they would be getting back to me along with details of how to contact a person immediately. Trying to stay calm, I followed their instructions verbatim and pressed the button that said, “Call us.” Pressing. No response. Pressing again. Still no response. My beautiful day's mosaic was swiftly turning into a jumbled mess. My “unspeakable clarity” was raging in words I dare not put into print. Name calling. A vicarious temper tantrum. Even an out loud bellow in the car on my way to the dentist. Yes, the dentist. A banner day all around.

What was I thinking? Stones rolling toward the other to create one vast mosaic? It feels like a boulder is pressing in on me at top speed and I will soon be flattened like a character in an old school cartoon. My inner dialogue begins... Breathe. Shut up. Breathe. I hate breathing. Relax. Don’t want to. Turn your ugly thoughts around. I don’t wanna! Meditation? Boo hiss. Peace and contentment? Give it to someone else. Knock out the Kindle-version myself? I’d rather knock out the Kindle creator right now!

Several hours elapsed... still no response from Kindle... The day only got more ludicrous, but I will spare you the details for now. Please know, however, I resorted to drastic measures and indulged in sugar cookies (which I did savor) and a tad bit of (necessary) retail therapy in order to move forward. To heck with Polly Positive... Some days a girl just needs to vent!

Chuckle chuckle... as I imagine my readers gasping that my positive outlook has been displaced by a computer glitch. You mean you get upset? I can hear them saying. I had no idea you set up expectations and then got disappointed. Are you kidding? All the time! And then the dialogue begins again between my inner sage and petulant child. Practice. Maybe. Keep rolling. I’ll try. Pondering? It might be worth a go. Vent and rage? Absolutely.

Today's mosaic lesson? Being fully human may just comprise the best stones for unspeakable clarity. Hmmmm. Now what to do about those Kindle people?

*from As I Lay Pondering, "Mosaic"

photos from Casa Battlo, Barcelona

MY NEW BOOK: As I Lay Pondering: daily invitations to live a transformed life by Kayce S. Hughlett. Available here and at Get your copy today!!

Thursday, February 16, 2012


“That nothing is static or fixed, that all is fleeting and changing, is the first mark of existence.” Pema Chodron

Impermanence. My spirits rose higher than a soaring kite and now have calmed to the rhythm of a gently lapping wave. A friend who used to greet me brightly has faded from my life like vapor in a foggy night. A woman waits at a hospital, checking the status box “married.” Two days later she leaves alone with “widow” stamped on her form. My cat, Aslan, was here purring on my chest and now he’s not. Impermanence. How do we acknowledge that all is fleeting and changing? Do we rage against it and demand it isn’t so? Or embrace it with understanding and awareness? Perhaps we simply hope it will drift away like the cat, quietly seeking another place to rest.

Imagine practicing impermanence. Witnessing life in fleeting moments. Loving what is now. Wanting what we get. All these choices build our character and establish the timbre of our lives. Nature teaches us that we cannot catch the wind or hold a ray of sunshine in our hand. One minute the sky is clear and the next clouds have rolled in. Hollywood reminds us, too. Demi Moore reigned on the screen with her beauty and strength. Now she resides in rehab filled with fear and self-doubt. Whitney Houston, the former queen of pop, died in a hotel room the night before the Grammy awards. Life flourishes and then it doesn’t. Reminders all.

My pen will eventually run out of ink. My own lungs will ultimately cease to draw air. What does all this mean today? With what am I left? Now. Only now. In this moment I can feel the air cycling through my body. I hear the scratch of the pen across this page. The light fixture next to me buzzes. Outside a child chatters with her father and waits for the bus. The bus arrives and they all depart. A new sound hastens to fill the space. My lungs draw another breath. My hand scratches out a few more words. A truck’s roar enters the near silence... and fades away.

Impermanence. Perhaps it is the only permanent thing in life.

I’ll be pondering this today. Care to join me?

MY NEW BOOK: As I Lay Pondering: daily invitations to live a transformed life by Kayce S. Hughlett. Available here and at

Friday, February 10, 2012

Mary Oliver's Inspiration

“Oh, to love what is lovely, and will not last!

What a task

to ask

of anything, or anyone...”

Mary Oliver excerpt from Snow Geese

It was an iconic moment that didn’t register on any paparazzi’s meter. But, I was there to record it in my memory. Less than five feet from where I sat poised to hear an inspirational talk, my curiosity and awe were tuned to high gear as I witnessed my two favorite poets in the entire world—Mary Oliver and David Whyte—meet for the first time. Surreal and amazing I watched the creator of Why I Wake Early nod and clasp hands with the author of What to Remember When Waking. It was a dreamlike moment and I invited myself to pause and consider if indeed I might still be sleeping.

Mary Oliver arrived as keynote guest for Seattle University’s Search for Meaning book festival. The jam-packed audience had high expectations for her appearance... certain that she would entertain and enlighten us with her sage wisdom and poetic words. She would inspire. We would connect. Oh, I pause and shake my head when I read those words of “expectation.” They are always a set up for disappointment. We put our heroes on a mountaintop and then dare them to reach the trembling heights. It is a daunting task.

Several weeks earlier, I spent an entire day mesmerized by the charisma and talent of David Whyte and for some comical reason I expected the same level of engagement from Mary Oliver. How audacious of me to make such a comparison! While she is a Pulitzer prize winner and world-renowned author, she is nonetheless a private woman who prefers spending hours in the woods scratching notes out with a pencil over sitting at her typewriter composing or reading to a room full of adoring fans. David Whyte thrives on sharing with corporate environments and regaling his audiences with hair-raising tales and adventures with the late John O’Donohue. He recites poetry (his and others) from memory in multiple languages with ne’er a note nearby.

Ms. Oliver offers deadpan humor and acquires a twinkle in her voice when she speaks of her departed and beloved dog, Percy. She is humble and mumbles to herself while shuffling through misnumbered pages to read her poetry rather than recite it. Her poems are wondrous and she delivered them to us one after another without pause. I found myself wanting more... perhaps a result of left-over comparisons to Whyte who offers the gift of verse repetition which allows his words to sink in and meld deeply into our bones. Mary unceremoniously tossed them into the air and swiftly moved onto the next as if the previous was of slight significance. She left us hanging and desiring more.

What did I expect or want? I wanted to be immersed in her words and presence. She offered the words and in the literal sense she was present. Was it my own demanding thoughts that left me wanting more? The practice of Buddhism invites us to consider whether our motives are pure as we encounter others and also to want what we get. As I ponder that day’s encounter and my potential disappointment that my hero didn’t quite reach my mountaintop as she shuffled from poem to poem, I realize my motive in observing her wasn’t pure. It was for me and my entertainment. In this way of being, I threatened to miss what was lovely. And as I consider the second premise—to want what we get—I find myself applauding for the humbly, mumbly award-winning woman. Did she inspire? Absolutely! Was it entertaining? No doubt! Her way was just not the way I expected. She delivered something even better—a lasting impression that gave me volumes to ponder... much like her poetry. Who could ask for anything more? Well done, Ms. O and Thank You for being you! You inspire us each to do the same.

sunrise on Mt. Sinai © KSH 2010

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

On hope...

People don’t cry
when they lose their
They cry
when they
get it back.

Martha Beck

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Scrambling for the Safety Zone

“We spend all our energy and waste our lives trying to re-create zones of safety which are always falling apart.” Pema Chodron

Scrambling for the safety zone. Is that what my mind is doing these days? Scrambling. Scrambled. I scramble. The challenge to quiet my spinning thoughts rises. So I pick up pen and notepad while Aslan, my ever-present muse, scrambles and scurries—actually he saunters—to take his place between my chest and journal. His nose tucks beneath my left arm as he snuggles into position. Is this his meditation time or mine? Who is teaching who?

How will I share my passion with the world? The morning’s question sends me scrambling for the safety zone of assurance. What’s next? How many sales? (Let that go.) Will people like it – receive it – buy it? (It doesn’t matter.) Will they relate – be moved – touched? (Maybe. Maybe not.) I’ve put it out there. Now what? My mind scrambles to fill the space. Write here. Schedule there. Do this. Don’t do that. Just BE... comes the overarching message. Stop scrambling! Breathe. Release. BE.

Where do you find yourself scrambling for a safety zone today? Is it working or would it feel better to breathe, release and simply Be?

As I Lay Pondering:
daily invitations to live a transformed life by Kayce S. Hughlett. Available here and at

Friday, February 03, 2012

Caught in the Headlights

I wrote a book. Those words are enough to make me pause like a deer trapped in the headlights. My pulse starts to accelerate and I wonder if I should flee or allow myself to dance in the high beam... or maybe it's "on" the high beam, because it definitely feels precarious where I reside these days. I wrote a book... actually, I carved open a 500-page space in the center of my chest and invited the world to peek in. Here's my heart, everyone. Please be kind.

I've recently joked that I need to add Dramamine to my daily regimen, as the highs and lows attempt to swing me through my days... and then I pause and read a line or two of my own words—Let go and release... There are no ordinary moments... Recall what we already know within—and I feel myself returning to the center of my truth.

I've spent the last 3 days packing, blessing, and shipping packages of signed books to over a dozen states within the U.S. and several countries around the world. Early readers have begun sharing their moments of connection and serendipity with me. This morning a friend elaborated on how her young daughter has been using my poem, Aslan's Gift, to help her release anxiety before she falls asleep each evening. My friend had tears in her eyes as she thanked me for pushing through to publish the book, so her daughter could find this comfort. Others have written how they love "having coffee" with me in the morning (even though we're miles apart). My heart sings as I hear these stories. It makes it worth opening up the tender place in the center of my chest.

As I Lay Pondering started writing itself before I knew what form it would take. My hunch is it will continue to take on its own life as it wings its way around the world. The big question I hear most often is What now? Who knows? All I can say for sure in this moment is I wrote a book. It's up to the Universe—God, Spirit, the Unknown—to say what's next!

My hope is that everyone who will benefit or be touched by my prose will have an opportunity to do so. Perhaps it will only be my coffee buddies, Aslan's snuggle bunny, and me... perhaps you or someone you love. Who knows?

What is the act that makes you pause in the headlights while simultaneously causing your heart to sing? Find it. Do it. The Universe will applaud. I promise.

As I Lay Pondering: daily invitations to live a transformed life by Kayce S. Hughlett. Available here and at

Aslan © KSH

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Tending Your Fire

The following is an excerpt from, my newly released book, As I Lay Pondering: daily invitations to live a transformed life... I offer this reading for those who graciously pre-ordered their books (and now await the printed arrival) and for those of you who would like a peek inside the pages. Actually, I offer it to all who come here. May your fire be kindled today.

February 1
St. Brigid’s Feast Day

Today is the feast day of St. Brigid of Kildare. St. Brigid is an Irish patron saint known for her warmth and hospitality. Having visited her homeland, I can still feel her flame burning in my heart and the warmth of a dear friend’s embrace as we stood on the holy ground of Brigid’s well.

St. Brigid of fire and water, your kindred spirit kindles our flame of desire. You offer us a passion for life and living it to the fullest—not just watching the days go by, but truly embracing them.

Certainly there are times when my flame simmers rather than blazes. A time of tending in the night as when the Celtic women put their fire to rest, minding the fire so it could and would be rekindled at the break of day. How do I tend my fire? Today with an early rising, allowing time and space. (A fire needs space to breathe, or it suffocates when the wood is packed too closely.) A hot shower and steaming coffee warm me inside and out. The lamp’s glow illuminates my surroundings. And in my heart, I hold warm memories of standing at Kildare with the spirit of dear St. Brigid.

Peace be with you on this feast day of St. Brigid. May the fire in your own heart be illumined and warmed today and always.

• Light a candle, build a fire, take a hot shower, or sip steaming tea.
• Choose a personal way to nurture your fire today.

As I Lay Pondering: daily invitations to live a transformed life by Kayce S. Hughlett. Available here and at

©Kayce Stevens Hughlett 2012