Pause to Ponder

Touch of Nature

Seems the best in life is often not fully lived until we stand to loss it. Like my Grandpa John’s loss of the family orchard in the Great Depression, climate change today is stirring hearts throughout the human family with a longing to re-establish a healthy relationship with Mother Earth.

Some time ago I returned to my Grandpa John’s orchard country in Virginia and found one of his apple crate labels hanging in a fruit stand. Today just feeling an apple in the palm of my hand has a way of making the whole world kin.

What touch of nature moves your relationship with the earth toward intimacy and respect?

Benefits of Writing

Many have told me they appreciate the encouraging words I write and often post. I humbly accept the affirmation giving thanks for the opportunity to share light and love.

There is another reason I write. Stress skews my perception of self, others, and the world debilitating me and sabotaging my best intentions. Thoughts are heavy and can come unhinged. By letting them out on paper I decrease my mental mass and lessen the grip these distortions have on me.

Along with journaling I have found writing songs and short poems help life flow in and through me contributing, if but a speck of illuminated stardust, hope, joy, and peace that benefit others and our planet nonetheless.

Power in the Charm

Below is an email sent to me by a friend who had just listened to my song Apple Cider Blues featuring a tenor ukulele:

“I believe that the UKE is the most inherently subversive musical instrument out there. Most folks come to the Uke’s music with a preconceived idea of what they’re getting and that idea is usually derived from someone plunking around on a cheap souvenir model. That is why, in my opinion, when it is played with passion and emotion it can have a great effect as it is unexpected.

The UKE is also inherently subversive due to its light and welcoming sound. One could do covers of even metal or rap and folks who would not normally give those songs the time of day would give it a listen.

Finally, given the inherent accessibility of the instrument, the topic range of the lyrics is wide open. Crass becomes charming, preachy becomes whimsical. For your Apple Cider Blues song, it takes what is typically a slow paced metered and flat noted genre and tilts it into what would be referenced as an uplifting gospel song.”

-Tom Shannon, Hammond, Oregon

Yes, what Tom says about the ukulele is in my experience very true. When played with passion a charming little ukulele can move mountains. Just think for example, the power of IZ (Israel Kamakawiwoole) who played on his tiny uke moving millions of hearts around the world while fueling the grass root movement for social change in Hawaii.

To listen to my song “Apple Cider Blues” just click the YouTube icon below or go to

For a wonderful in-depth resource about the ukulele look up The Ukulele~ A History written by Jim Tranquada and John King, University of Hawaii Press 2012.

Daily devotions, mindfulness, caring conversations, observing rituals and traditions that nourish the soul, eating lots of fruits and veggies, choosing to move and exercise, getting out in nature, getting good sleep and … learn a new instrument? Yes, I have found another helpful way to be alive, less stressed, and meaningfully engaged in my 70’s is to learn to play a new musical instrument. Playing ukulele has sparked my creativity, helped me find my elder voice, and has become a fun way to connect with others, my past, and my future. Learning to play a new instrument is helping me be later-life alive!

Pause to Ponder

Today I stopped to ponder my progress toward making the world a little kinder, greener, indeed, a little more in tune with the voice of wisdom. And while inclined to be discouraged by the slowness of desired change, I simply showed up again on Life’s shore, put myself in the path of Love’s waves, and I felt the encouraging kinship of others to go the distance and with grace—finish strong!