Monday Morning: Let Me Rise Up


A sweet reminder and lovely aspiration…

Live & Learn

red ovenbird,

When I rise up
let me rise up joyful
like a bird

When I fall
let me fall without regret
like a leaf.

~ Wendell Berry, “Prayers and Sayings of the Mad Farmer” from The Mad Farmer Poems


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The work of the inner pilgrim



“…No matter the shore before us, the swell and toss of the sea never ends. When brought to the crest of the swell, we can see as far as eternity and the soul has its perspective, but when in the belly of those waves, we are, each of us, for the moment, lost…the work of the inner pilgrim is to keep eternity in our heart and mind’s eye when dropped in the belly of our days.” ~Mark Nepo

* I took this photo in San Agustinillo, Oaxaca, Mexico

Passageway for everything larger than you



“It seems that any moment of interest or pain or adversity can surprise us into the larger totality of life, breaking our current limits and allowing us the chance to redefine ourselves in regard to the larger sense that is upon us…We can never be prepared for everything. No one person can anticipate all of life. In face, over-preparation is yet another way to wall ourselves in from life. Rather, we can only prepare for how we might respond to the gift of surprise that often moves in on us faster than our reflex to resist.”

~Mark Nepo, The Gift of Surprise in The Book of Awakening


Inspired yet again by Mr. Nepo and ready to embrace the day and all its possibilities…

* I took this photo in San Agustinillo, Oaxaca, Mexico

Let it out




Inspired again by Mark Nepo (The Book of Awakening) whose reading for today was about how we were born to sing – to give voice to our feelings, and about how letting things out, like cries of fear or pain, lets new things come in.

He confirms for me that when I write poetry my heart singing. Singing all kinds of songs, not just of joy and peace and light but also of pain and fear and the lost way. Like a little miracle, sometimes the soothing inflow would come immediately upon the releasing outflow – almost like a single expression (e.g., Strong and The Me I’ve Always Been).

I recall the day I got the call confirming a cancer diagnosis and sobbing out loud in fear and anger. I didn’t realize that was a song. Indeed that act let out so many feelings and created space for new things to flow in, like hope and love and grace. Some of my poems reflect a deep hard-to-understand agony (e.g., Into the Vortex), and even though the salve doesn’t come immediately, it always comes (e.g., Invited came in the same day as Into the Vortex).

So today I am reminded to look inside, sing what I find, and sit in grace for the open space to fill.


* image courtesy of

Sun shining truth


San Agustinillo dogs

The sun shining its light

through the stormy dark shelf of clouds

speaks the truth.

The light and dark mingle today. Mixed energies, from the people I’m connecting with to the way my computer is behaving. On this gray day, the ray of sunshine that wrote on the ground as I looked out the window hinted of spring. In that moment, I recognized the light as the truth and the dark an illusion that burns away.

what i pass is again seeable, touchable, feel-able



“The truth is that blurring by something is not the same as experiencing it.” 

~Mark Nepo

Mark Nepo consistently inspires me!

Earlier this week in his writing about “At the Pace of What is Real”, he spoke to me about our capacity to feel what is before us. The most important thing that my journey with cancer did for me was further awaken me to the breadth of my emotional being. Through fear and uncertainty, emotions because larger than life – and then I was able to see them. Before it was easy to just move past them, like blurred landscape while moving on a train.

“So, no matter how many wonderful opportunities come my way, no matter the importance placed on these things by others who have my best interests at heart, I must somehow find a way to slow down the train until what I pass by is again seeable, touchable, feel-able.” 

~Mark Nepo


Why Mindfulness Matters

Why Mindfulness Matters

I thought you’d appreciate this blog I co-authored with one of my IBM colleagues about mindfulness.

IBM Jobs Blog

By Vicki Flaherty and Megan Moyer

 San Agustinillo Mexico Rocky Shore (1)

Image: San Agustinillo Mexico Sunset (Photo by Vicki Flaherty)

Everywhere you turn, the word mindfulness seems to show up. At IBM, we have a community of professionals from across the business and around the world leading a mindfulness movement. Some of us are experts with years of training in meditation and other mindfulness practices, and some of us are just starting to practice mindfulness. We’d like to bring you along on our journey.

So, what is mindfulness? Well, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Professor of Medicine Emeritus and creator of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, defines it as “”paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally, to the unfolding of experience moment to moment.”

“Mindfulness is paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and…

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As long as we sing



“As long as we sing, the pain of the world cannot claim our lives.” ~Mark Nepo

This quote brought to mind some of the anger, disappointment, frustration, just plain ugliness that has flowed into and out of my life. I realize how important it is for me to put their essence on the page – so I can see them, no longer deny or resist or judge them, and display and honor their place in the experience of my life. {A couple of my poems that reflect my pain inlcude Into the Vortex and The Struggle.}

Giving voice, speaking my truth, singing my special song into the world – this requires that I have the words for the song, that I hear my own voice, that I listen to it, open to what it might be telling me, without judging it as good or bad, rather accepting it as an expression of creative energy that moves through me. {This poem reflects the song that came to me shortly after writing Into the Vortex: Invited.}

* The link to this photo provided by google images is broken. Originally, it was on



Cure Forward


cure forward.JPG

I just discovered this blog sitting in my draft folder that I had intended to share months ago when I received an email  from a  three-time cancer survivor and ambassador for Cure Forward, a new platform that is helping cancer patients understand and access precision medicine. As a cancer survivor, I was asked to write an open letter on my blog to someone recently diagnosed with cancer providing any advice or support I’d want to share with them.

So, this post is to Beth, who was diagnosed with breast cancer at the end of September and is currently recovering from a mastectomy and undergoing chemotherapy. Her experience, as with many others I’ve encountered since my diagnosis, took me back to my own surgeries and recovery.

My advice is 1) take the time you need to heal, 2) welcome all the feelings that show up, explore them, write about them, paint them out, whatever form of creative expression works for you, and 3) ask for and open to the help of others – give them the gift of giving.

With love, Vicki