Monday, December 9, 2013

Party Girl and The Monk: At War over Facebook

I've been thinking about my daughter who honors her artist self by staying off Facebook. I've tried giving up social networking many times in an attempt to protect creative energy.

But it's a struggle.

Every time I walk away, I'm pulled back in by the desire for conversation. I've been at war over this for quite a while.

Until recently I found some insight. 

Jenna Abernathy is a hunger psychology coach who helps people with food issues. She talks about being at war with a part of yourself, and what you can do about it.

Her video, "Your Food Rebel vs Your Inner Intentions," offers a twist on conventional thinking. She asks: What would happen if you embraced both sides of the struggle? 

It's the same with me and my online issues - I have to look at both sides.

I figured out I have two forces at work within.

There's the Monk. That's the side that craves quiet, discipline, and separation from the rest of the world. The Monk rants when I spend "too much time" online.

The Monk scolds when I'm out exploring, mingling, or visiting. The Monk thinks I should be sitting home, meditating, writing, and replenishing energy.

Then there's Party Girl.

Party Girl wants to chitchat with the whole world. She is charged by the exchange of ideas, and loves every face in her Facebook feed.

The Monk has been trying to get the upper hand. The Monk has been telling Party Girl she's all wrong. What Jenna has shown me is that I need both sides of my personality. Neither side is going away.

I've been pushing away Party Girl, telling her she's a flake, a flirt, and the source of my problems. But now I'm appreciating her.

She connects me to people. She's curious and fun and talkative and passionate. She starts conversations. She gets things going.

Yes, I need the Monk, to embrace the silence, to go deep into my creative and spiritual life, and to stick with things for the long haul.

But what I need most is one hundred percent self-acceptance, letting each part show up when it needs to, without judgment, scolding, or resisting.

Each artist has to find her own equilibrium balancing inward and outward movement. Thank you to my daughter, for showing me the possibilities, and thank you to my friend, for guiding me toward balance.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Mindfulness, Acceptance, and Trying to Fix Others' So-Called Flaws

I have spent too much time on "what is wrong with the world." Or with people. Or with myself.

Living the mindful life dissolves this conversation. It's about accepting what is rather than judging everything as "okay" or "not okay" in my petty understanding of the universe.

This goes for how I treat other human beings, and how I treat myself.

There are times when my weaknesses seem so glaring. I want to fix them. Or outright reject them. I want to reject me.

"Ohmygosh, Christi! You are disorganized! You are overcommitted! You are scattered and flaky! You are way too unpredictable! You are shy at the wrong times, and a loudmouth when you're not being shy! Can't you be normal?" The litany goes on.

But then I remember, my real problem isn't the current weakness I'm perceiving. My real problem is my lack of acceptance.

I turn things around when I start talking to myself differently.

I can replace the above commentary with something like this:

"I accept you, Christi! With all your multi-facetedness! With your enthusiasm! With your divergent thinking! You are full of surprises! You are versatile, with a flexible approach and interest in many things, which makes you unique. You are exactly the way you need to be." 

What a difference!

The same goes for the way I treat others. I can see them as flawed, or let the power of love show me their perfection.

More and more, we humans are finding out that what we once thought "wrong" or "abnormal" is merely a different way of being, valid and beautiful.

Andrew Solomon highlights the power of acceptance in a moving way with the following Ted Talk.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Catching a Glimpse

Weaving through fog in a trench coat
at a train station in the late hours of night
mysterious divine
stranger god, a profile in shadow
with your collar turned up

walking cool and slow
a pigeon feather
from the last flight of fall
as you turn
and your breath billows
and then, oh
you are heading this way

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

What's Going on Inside You? Accept It.

These words saved my life fifteen years ago when I was going through a dark time. Lately, some of the old pain has resurfaced, and I've found myself battling issues I thought I'd outgrown. I'm returning to this passage from Rainer Maria Rilke's Letters to a Young Poet.

Think, dear Sir, of the world that you carry inside you, and call this thinking whatever you want to: a remembering of your childhood or a yearning toward a future of your own--only be attentive to what is arising within you, and place that above everything that you perceive around you. What is happening in your innermost self is worthy of your entire love . . . . 

When we're in emotional pain, the last thing we feel like doing is paying attention to our innermost self. We want to run away to someone or something. We'll visit an addiction that gives us a temporary feel-better fix. Or, we'll make judgments about how wrong we are, how full of mistakes and problems.

Being attentive to what is within you doesn't mean judging. It's not good or bad. It just is. 

What I understand, this time around, is that when my psyche and emotions are shivering with pain, I have to slow down and hold still. This is so very uncomfortable. Yet I've learned by experience that a blossoming is on the way.

I need to sit tight with who I am and what I feel. I can watch it all unfold, even as I'm bewildered and impatient. Holding everything with acceptance . . . and love.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Never Too Late . . . to Be

There is "turning over a new leaf" but there is also discovering who you really were all along. This can take a lifetime, or it can take a moment; it is worth everything. 

Monday, July 1, 2013

The Real Moment

"The real moment of success is not the moment apparent to the crowd."
 --George Bernard Shaw
Others won't see my most successful moments: when I have quieted my critical mind, or when I have yielded to the call to create, or when I am bravely choosing to celebrate my true self. This is all right with me. This is a fine and good thing. Even if I am too small to be noticed, I am full of joy. 

[Photo: balsamroot atop Dog Mountain, 2013]

Friday, June 28, 2013

Please Stay

So, I've been going through some emotional upheaval. Here is what God had to say about it.

Dear Christi:

Don’t go. Don’t run away from my presence in this moment. Don’t rush into doing, trying, making, striving. Sure, it hurts to hold still and feel everything. There is no place to hide from your pain, and all the things you have lost, and all the things you long for. But there is love right here, too. I am right here. Please stay.



Photo by Christi Krug

Thursday, June 27, 2013

On the Lookout for Wonder

"Always be on the lookout for the presence of wonder." --E.B. White

I snapped this shot hiking San Juan island, lost in the wonder of exploration. It reminds me to keep watch: at any moment, I can find the Presence of the wonderful, whether I'm on a trail or learning to navigate my own soul.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Acrobats and Prayer

Complete awareness combined with absolutely letting go: yes, prayer walks a tightrope.

Friday, June 21, 2013

It Doesn't Really Matter What You Call God

I have come to the conclusion it doesn't matter what names we use for God. After all, we are not any smarter than four-year-old kids when it comes to the spiritual world. Four-year-olds don't know the names for things. And that is all right. A story by Robert Fulghum says it all.

"See, what happened was that I got packed off to Sunday School at around age four, and the first thing I learned was the Lord’s Prayer, which begins, 'Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed by Thy name.' And what I heard was 'Our Father, which art in heaven, HOWARD be thy name.'

And since little kids tend to mutter their prayers anyway, nobody realized what I was saying, so I went right on believing that God’s name was Howard. And that I was a member of His family—the Howards. 

Since I was also told that my grandfather had died and gone to heaven, God and my grandfather got all mixed up in my mind as one and the same. Which meant that I had a pretty comfy notion about God. When I knelt beside my bed each night and prayed, 'Our Father, which art in heaven, Howard by thy name,' I thought about what a big shot he was . . . I went to bed feeling pretty connected to the universe for a long time."  --Robert Fulghum, All I Really Need to Know, I Learned in Kindergarten

Art by Banksy.

A Poem for Everyday Prophets

"Rejection . . . teaches. This is a powerful revelation, like the burning UFO wheel seen by the prophet Ezekiel, or like the McRib sandwich shaped like the Virgin Mary seen by the prophet Steve Jenkins." --Chuck Wendig, as quoted in Aerogramme Writers' Studio.

I love this nod to the prophets, those rejected or quirky folks whose revelations come from suffering as artists (even if they are pretty weird). We are those everyday prophets, artists, and poets, even as we face rejection. As a matter of fact, you really shouldn't trust any prophet who hasn't had a hard life . . . . 


A false prophet is easy to tell
by his clean neck, fine voice
the maps in his glove box
and his command of time.
Real prophets
don't believe half what they hear themselves saying
smoke too much
owe on their taxes
have a way of looking at you
sharp as boots
seeing a ways off and pretty far down
spying what you'd have noticed
but for the dirt in your eye.
Real prophets
kick at things
dig straight to Hell
say, Hold this
hand you the shovel
and jump in first.
Real prophets miss buses
hitch rides on beer trucks
say, Meant to get here sooner, but . . . .
Meanwhile you wait by the highway
tracing your toe in the dust
map in fist
thinking you're done for.

                          --Christi Krug

 The above poem was previously published in the Aroostook Review.

Monday, June 3, 2013

The Myth of Ordinary

"There are no ordinary moments in life," I said. As soon as the words left my mouth, they stunned me.

Let's back up thirty seconds.

It was a Monday night dinner at the home of close friends. I took another forkful of scalloped potatoes. "This is fabulous," I said.

"Ha," said my host. "It's just an ordinary dinner."
That's when I said it.

And realized it was true: each moment of our lives is unmatched, unique, beautiful.

"Ordinary," then, is often a word we use to show we don't recognize the present moment.

In my life, I seek to honor the ordinary. I've written a lot about ordinary things. I am a disciple of ordinary things, teaching myself to acknowledge the wonder of what surrounds me in this life. And when I say, "ordinary," I really mean, "absolutely-incredible-but-secretly-hidden-in-the-everyday."

Photographer and teacher Kim Manley Ort says, "Really, things only become ordinary or mundane when they become familiar and we stop paying attention." Beautifully said.

This ties into "From Boredom to Bonfire," Chapter 36 of Burn Wild. I offer 36 so-called ordinary things such as brown bananas and napkins, and invite you to see them and write about them with new eyes.

Or, as Kim Manley Ort says, "How can you reframe what you see?"

Thursday, May 30, 2013

On faith. And work.

This bit of news encourages me to keep speaking up and sharing my spirituality along with my work.

The Inspired by Faith Conference met last month at Oxford University, giving prominent social entrepreneurs a chance to speak on faith, and how to integrate it into daily life. 

"Spirituality is a place to come from, not a thing to do." Absolutely. It is an incredible thing to let our lives be guided by our inner compass, not the clock, the dollar, or any other force. You can read about the recommended Seven Practices here.


Friday, May 24, 2013

We who write so many things, sometimes need to let words go. Letting our lives be unsketched, free to unfold in spontaneous story.

What can you leave unwritten today?

More thoughts inspired by David James Duncan.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

I wonder. Do you?

 "Wisdom begins in wonder." --Socrates.

Art begins with "I wonder," too. Here, the artist was curious about creating an outdoor installment with found objects she had saved for an unknown purpose. A visit to a wooded meadow transformed "I wonder" into beauty. This truly reflected Julia Stoops' wisdom on the creative process. 

I couldn't decide which of my blogs to post this on. Didn't know whether I wanted to focus on the spirituality of wonder, or the art of it, but in the end, spirit and art are mingled together in mystery, adding to the questions, adding to the beauty.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Clouds to Remind

Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of Glory do we come
From God, who is our home 
--William Wordsworth
What beauty and truth  can you see in the clouds today? What might they show you about who you really are? 

Monday, May 6, 2013

God in a Violin

When you can't seem to find goodness in the world, you just might find God hanging out in an old violin . . .

Amos Lee live performance of Violin, Nov 2010, New York City.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Your whole life is now.

"When ______ happens, that will be my real life. That's when I'll be happy." I caught my thoughts this morning as I started my prayer session.

I was devaluing this day, this time in my life, this moment sitting in my bedroom chair next to an unmade bed below dusty blinds, while outside the earth rumbled with the sounds of the sprinkler starting up.

And I realized, this moment is not only all I have, it's my whole life.

"If I can't recognize, accept, love and experience ALL of my life right now, I never will."

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Changed by Creation

"Creation happens to us, burns into us, changes us, we tremble and swoon, we submit. Creation - we participate in it, we encounter the creator, offer ourselves to him, helpers and companions."                     --Martin Buber

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Religion and the Fence

David Wilcox says that his song, "Beyond Belief," is about "expecting more from your relationship with the Infinite than just some theological gated community."

He talks about what it means to follow "this crazy carpenter . . . such a wily sort of guy." And how it's never what he expects. When he starts building a religion according to his own ideas, he makes a place where "the gates are all closed and the fences are high."

Suddenly, he looks around to find that Jesus is outside the fence.

David has captured my heart exactly.

Leave the gates and the passwords known by just your kind. Walk beyond the divisions of the symbols and the signs.

This is what I want to do. Make way for the love of Christ in and for every single person. This has nothing to do with religion, race, sexual orientation, politics, whether you use the right lingo, blah, blah, blah.

It's an exciting adventure to leave that comfortable gated community and just be in the world. Loving people. Doing my work.

Not trying to be elite, or "righteous" or right about things. Not bothering with labels--God knows they never fit anyway.

The thing that matters: love. Boundless, infinite love here for you, right now, especially if you are outside that fence.

Photos: top--Microsoft clipart. Bottom and middle--North Cascades, by Christi Krug

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The World is Big

"The world is big and I want to get a good look at it before it gets dark," said John Muir. I took this picture on a Goat Rocks backpack trip five years ago. These words, these hills, call me to explore. What is calling you out from your routine, your daily smallness, out into the big world?

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A simple thought.

"One of the best things you can do is to remember all during the day that God is with you."
 --Francis de Sales

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Slow Down

Most of us are in a hurry. Much too much of the time. 

"Wisely and slow. They stumble that run fast." --Shakespeare

Friday, April 19, 2013


"'Start by looking at possibility.' Yes, every page seems to say, start. By all means, start. And look. Open your eyes and look deeply at something, anything. Finally, possibility. Consider possibility; live possibility; be possibility. Then stand back and watch what you write." --Marcia R. Johnston

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

How to Get Good News

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings." --John Muir

Photos by Paul and Christi Krug

Beauty as well as Bread

“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.” --John Muir

What feeds your soul? How are you making time for that?

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Curiosity for Living

Is it a dangerous thing to have a sense of curiosity? To be curious about life, and spiritual things? Some say yes. 

After all, curiosity killed the cat. Poor kitty. 

Then there's the story of Pandora, whose irresistible curiosity to open the box unleashed all kinds of evil into the world.

Have you believed these warnings? Are you afraid of venturing into the unknown in your spiritual journey? I'm here to tell you that the voice of fear is not of God. 

Truth and courage are calling you to investigate. To wonder. To ask questions.

Curiosity won't kill you. (But it will kill apathy. It won't let you stay the same.)

Be alive. Be curious.

"Respond to every call that excites your spirit." --Rumi

Top photo: courtesy of; bottom photo: by christi krug

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Money and the Writer, and God, Too

Money. A few writers I know have been struggling with Not Having Enough. I’ve been trying to find words of encouragement. But I have to admit, my responses sound glib.

Don’t let poverty define you, I want to say.

Don’t stop giving because you’re afraid. Contribute. Share. Be who you are meant to be.

It’s hard to make people listen when you just seem lucky.  

That’s easy for you to say, is the response I imagine.

It is true: I feel rich.

This hasn’t always been the case. I was born to an alcoholic, jobless father and a disabled mother. They lived on handouts and family sympathy. My father died soon after I was born, and my mother kept me and my brother fed through food stamps. I grew up in hand-me-downs and castoffs, at the mercy of the merciful. I shoplifted when I was old enough to be sly, telling myself, It’s not fair that I should go without nice things.

My teen years included the stigma of foster care, along with joblessness and a sort of paralysis, and barely enough money for the basics. The basics didn’t include health care or education. The messages I learned about money were:  

There is never enough.

You must find work even when it’s something you hate, because the work you love won’t pay you.

If you find something on sale you’d better buy it. You’ll never know when the chance will come again.

Bouts of scarcity continued throughout my adulthood. I experienced eviction and homelessness for a short while. I lived with my daughters in a tiny, one-bedroom apartment where the real homeless surfed the dumpsters. But then, things changed.

In my new financial picture, the basics were provided for, and they encompassed insurance, good food, dependable vehicles, vacations. In a Christmas montage, presents spilled from under the tree and filled the living room of my lovely home on its quiet, manicured street.

Even so, one thing was missing. I still felt poor.

This feeling led to a bad habit. I bought things I didn’t have money for.

After all, it wasn’t fair that I should go without.

I nursed a mounting credit card balance which I kept secret from my husband. I experienced the shame I’d felt a small child, back in those days when I tried to hide my red ticket when paying for school lunch. I couldn’t be like those other kids who used blue tickets.

The debt was mounting, and my income was not keeping pace. One day, in panic and tears, I told my husband about the thousands of dollars I’d racked up. The result was an explosion of frustration and stress, just as you would expect. At a total loss for what to do, I prayed, “God, I’ve made a mess of things. If there is some way you can help, I’ll lean on you.”

Two weeks later, I received a writing contract that quadrupled my income, and over the next eight months I paid off every penny I owed. I was filled with gratitude. I noticed insights that trickled into me as if I were a baby bird being fed with an eyedropper.

These thoughts were:

If I want to be provided for, I need to do my part, and let God do God’s part.  

My part means not overspending.  

My part means doing the work God shows me to do. Even if my work is challenging or imperfect, I can do it with a grateful heart.

I am not poor just because I don’t have a: _______________________ (smart phone, remodeled kitchen, Prius.)

God has set me on the earth for a purpose. I need to spend according to my purpose. Instead of spending money on ______________________ (smart phone, remodeled kitchen, Prius), I need to invest in ____________________ (creative purpose, passion, serving others).

As my art teacher says, “I used to care about making a lot of money. When I began painting and teaching full time, I realized I didn’t mind going without the latest gadgets or fancy car. I’m doing the thing that fulfills me, and I feel rich.”

This new perspective called for an overhaul. I had to stop being afraid. I had to stop thinking I wouldn’t be taken care of.

I began doing more to serve others without worrying about the paycheck I was getting. I did my part. I gave the rest to God.

Being afraid had kept me poor, even if only in my mind. Time after time, I had chosen jobs that didn’t maximize my skills because I didn’t think writing or using my talents could pay my bills. In desperation, I put my efforts or investments into frantic schemes, hoping for paydirt. These things did not, in the end, bring provision.

This changed when I learned to work from simple trust.

I still make mistakes. Financial needs continue to crop up. I live on Earth, after all. But I don’t let fear or shame run the show anymore. I’ve found out that just around the corner there is always a provision I cannot see, and if I will keep patiently doing the work of my heart it will come forth.

Then again, you could just say I’m lucky.
Photo credits:

Monday, March 4, 2013

Time and the Spiritual Person

"Stress is a perverted relationship to time." --John O'Donohue

I'm somewhat in awe of this statement that I heard listening to this wonderful interview of the Celtic philosopher and poet, by Krista Tippett.

But isn't it true? It's not the "lack of time" that stresses us out, but our perception of time, that we don't have enough of it. It's the way we are viewing our lives.

Strangely, the more I sink into being who I am, spending time with my Creator (that is, just thinking about my Creator), and following my inner desires, the less I worry about how much time I have or don't have. I do believe this: I do have plenty of time.

And even for John O'Donohue, who had this calm sense of abundant time--he died some months after the recorded interview. Should he have been frantic to spend his last minutes, trying to be more productive? I don't think so. I think he has transcended time, now, permanently.

And you and I can use our days on earth to practice.

John O'Donohue completes his above statement: "So that rather than being a subject of your own time, you become its target and victim."

In what ways are you letting time victimize you, instead of spending your life doing what is most important to you?

Saturday, February 2, 2013

The Difference Between Knowing and Being

I love the observations and insights that come to me when I'm walking, and I often record them. Walking in the rain last week, here's what showed up.

I love the quiet way the rain meets the pine needles of the trail. There's an introduction every moment, as one drop, then the next, collides with the earth. They each find a place to cushion their fall. There's sweetness, a fragrance. No sense of bitterness or wrongness.Your own breath mingles with the breathing of the trees.

And everything is meant.

This can be your moment. When you're here, hearing the finches. This one with a little yellow-orange, sorbet-colored cap--I don’t know what kind he is. Bird, do you know who you are?

Perhaps if I were a bird expert, I'd have a name for it. I could be a scientist and have my definitions down pat. Yet I still wouldn't know anything about being a bird.

This bird will always know more about being a bird than I will. Real knowing is something you can never have, until you’ve connected with being.

Being is the greatest knowing there is.

image credits: top photo -; bottom photo - christi krug