Lotus Song



Through the terror
of endless nights
that have erased
morning from memory,
when shadows widen
from cracks to the
shape of the universe,
and the smallest noises
taunt with lifetimes
of our engorged madness,
there is this.
There is softness,
There is us inside
the cavern of our being,
tiny as we may feel,
fluttering around
our own hearts,
as we turn to quiet song
and hug them with
tentative, hopeful
hands. – TS

There’s No War in World (Let’s Hope, and Hope Some More)


I named this blog not as a reflection of our current reality – not of any prior reality, either – but out of the sincere and heartfelt notion that we can change our minds in order to change the world. We cannot all do it at once, and we cannot do it across the board, and we always have to work harder to understand what compels people to move toward violence, isolation, separation and conflict. We have to be kind. We have to cultivate compassion.

We also have to hope, and believe that where we live can be a place of peace.



My Pain is Not a Garden



My new poem, My Pain is Not a Garden, was just published in “A River of Milk”, Issue 1: Sylvia. My work featured along Sylvia Plath’s – a deep honour!

My Pain is Not a Garden


I live, I do not yet live

planets write our demise

as the soft spring buds grow

but my pain is not a garden

and how fast it turns


And if I was supported the way

ancient earth holds its flowers

or clouds cling to the mountain

because her mammoth secrets

need protection, the raging

clash of parts inside

me waiting for the answer

might need it no more


I hear a child shriek and

ghosts fill the world,

an old forgotten schoolyard at dawn,

the sounds of becoming, mothers and

children, half-eaten sandwiches and mayo

dripping on linoleum floors in procession

to war-green garbage cans, cookies

and milk, stories and hugs

under the covers just past bedtime


I thought I would be living this twice.

 I thought I would be living this twice.


Every time an ambulance wails outside

I wonder who is leaving and who will

take their place, and how they

will get here and for whom

I wonder if my belly knows

more than I do or if waiting is           



I saved up

learning like crinkled unused coupons hopefully stacked,

unbelieving of skin in my skin,

bone in my bones.


I can feel her anyway, growing

inside me, a tiny-breasted elfling

with my eyes and tufts of hair

asking me to hold her in her finite



I’m Mother Mountain and she’s not a secret

any more than the buds

will stop coming in spring.

A Poem About Music and Life


tree revolution


I’ve just had this poem published on The Plum Tree Tavern – I hope you enjoy!

We Came Back
by Tammy T. Stone

A prior world of raucous sounds we
Made, riots of clanging bells but also

Hushed caress.  Where each tenderness
Melted like snow a river gone by, anger

Whipped loud, and everything that could,
Happened.  But it still wasn’t enough, so

Here we are, marking our cold re-entry in
Soundless, everlasting space, coursing

Through the warring bits, all of it a kind
Of alchemy we’re not here to understand.

We’re here to listen, though we don’t.
It can only start from here, the beating

Heart. The rhythm of palpation, how we
Wandered for years to get here.  Times

I rest in that pause, shivering, bone dry,
Waiting for an outstretched hand. This is

How I learned music can be touched. The
Sweet sounds that have made us and the

Ache of memories trailing through Time.
We are ruffled and ravaged. The world as

Sonorous Remembrance, reverberating in a
Thousand ways a feared, desired emptiness.

I try as hard as I can to listen to each note,
Devastating, beautiful, inchoate and true.


The Path Past Fear.


Confess your hidden faults.
Approach what you find repulsive.
Help those you think you cannot help.
Anything you are attached to, give that.
Go to the places that scare you.

~ Machig Labdrön

When I think of freedom, two things can happen.

One: I’m at the bottom-most depths of the ocean, but I can breathe, floating in blissful peace, burdened neither by gravity nor any worldly concern. Two: I’m hurtling into outer space where, also gravity-free, I can look at our tiny marble of a planet sullied with the fiery tornado of my emotional refuse, now tinier than a speck of sand.

In neither of these cases do I locate freedom in my actual body on actual ground—the here and now necessary for dealing with my stuff, to say nothing of transcending it.

So stuff periodically comes to slap me in the face. One recent morning, I wake up literally gripped with fear. It feels like wizened, bony fingers clawing into my chest, squeezing all life out of my heart and lungs to a totally deranged beat. Its persistence leaves me gasping for air. It doesn’t let up so that I can see my fear. All I can do is fall under its electrified weight.

Fear, until we deal with its root causes, can linger like an unnamed, unwanted and omnipresent sidekick.

Fear keeps us locked in a world of separation, which prevents us from being able to truly connect compassionately with other people in their suffering. Trapped in a state of constant, low-grade fear, circumstances easily come along to trigger it to rise like a volcanic beast. This time, the trigger comes in the form of bureaucracy and a major life change: my husband and I are starting the process of applying for his permanent residency in Canada, where I’m from.

It was exciting, among a zillion other things, to realize that after years of a more nomadic existence, we are ready for and really want to make the move and a home. Far less exciting is the preliminary research: finding forms, forms for forms, and forms that lead to instructions on how to fill out the forms. Acronyms and numbers swim on my screen determined to paralyze me, and before I can say the word “mindfulness,” my sanity has flown out the window.

I’m scared I’ll miss a document. I’m scared of my logistical incompetence. I’m scared that one spelling mistake will cast me into permanent exile. On a deeper level, I’m scared of having to examine the minutia of my life to date: has it been enough to make the grade? Are we/am I enough?

It’s hard not to leap from fact-recording to existential rumination as our love story is turned into a number of points on a checklist.

In addition to fear, I feel an incipient, directionless anger and defensiveness boiling inside. I feel horribly guilty for being consumed by fears of this nature when people are being brutally, unjustly murdered and uprooted from their homes all over the world. Everything we’ve done has been our happy choice. I feel helpless about everyone and everything, and powerless and petty and small.

I’m desperately wishing for a better world for all, one free of collective fear and its causes.

I want to meditate. I know I need to, but I can’t right now. What I can do is walk over to my bookshelf and reach for my worn copy of Pema Chödrön’s When Things Fall Apart. Because even though we are about to embark on a great new chapter of our life journey, that’s exactly how it feels.

Of course, nothing at all has fallen apart, except for my emotional state. My fear in this case is entirely based on various imagined futures: we dissolve like the Wicked Witch of the West in a puddle of forms and receipts, never to be heard from again. We’re rejected. We’re accepted.

None of this is happening now. So why has this broken me? My Buddhist training allows me to know why—I’m not living in the present moment, even though there’s nowhere else to live; I have allowed my mind to have its cunning way with me instead of stepping back and observing my fear. I know this, but I still can’t get past it. I flip through the pages and my eyes rest of this:

“If we’re willing to give up hope that insecurity and pain can be exterminated, then we can have the courage to relax with the groundlessness of our situation. This is the first step on the path.”

Pema. Thank you.

You’d think uprooting myself from my home country—that I love—for six years of travel, meeting the love of my life along the way, and taking up residency on the other side of the globe for awhile would presuppose comfort in groundlessness. Sometimes it does. Sometimes it doesn’t. I spend more time than I’d like to admit hoping to exterminate insecurity, even as I paradoxically revel in adventure and the unknown. The truth is I often take comfort picturing a fantastical future where things are exactly as I’ve dictated. My comfort comes less from groundlessness, more from a fabled world when I’m in perfect control.

I do want to be more comfortable with groundlessness and non-attachment to outcome. I want to love each present moment as it comes. I know this is the path to freedom.

It’s imperative that I to to that place that scares me and learn what my fear is trying to teach me. There is no shortcut past the fear. I don’t want a bony hand squeezing the life out of my chest. I can be flippant and say that the Canadian government is making me confront myself when I’d rather be soaking in the summer rays, but the truth is that there will always be circumstances generating fear as long as we live a fear-based life, and we will always live a fear-based life as long as we can’t observe what is going on and surrender to our fear in its varied manifestations.

Fearful situations are a great kick in pants to get down and dirty in the beautiful mess of uncharted territory, to open with compassion to the fear that unites us all and excavate the freedom within. Free mind, free world. So the hope goes.

Pema, thank you, again:

“To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest. To live fully is to be always in no-man’s-land, to experience each moment as completely new and fresh. To live is to be willing to die over and over again. From the awakened point of view, that’s life.”



Anthem of Love.


Because my mind is often set to the tune of movies, whenever the word love pops into my mind, the first definition that flashes before me is from the 1970 tear-jerker-to-end-all tear-jerkers, Love Story.


“Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”


I swoon when I hear it and appreciate the sentiment, but I’d qualify this by adding that it’s still nice to say sorry when we really mean it.


Thinking about love more seriously and deeply, my heart extends to these very troubled and unstable times we find ourselves in, when running away from love and surrendering to fear, disgust and blame feels like the easier choice to make. This is exactly why grasping the depths of love becomes more than a noble exercise on the path of spiritual evolution: it amounts to a feat of almost indescribable courage, a form of activism with the potential to lead to the revolution we badly need.


Because love is action.


Love is learning to be love so that we can give and receive love, so that love runs through us all, together.


Love is connection.


Love is feeling afraid and stepping into the fear instead of ignoring it or transferring it to others, via blame.


Love is bravery.


Love is giving love when it feels most difficult.


Love is generosity.


Love is not turning away from catastrophic world conditions, but accepting current realities as they are, and regarding our problems with a sharp, fair, analytical and equanimous mind.


Love is equanimity.


Love is being aware of our personal and collective problems and not giving up or giving in.


Love is awareness.


Love is working with the broken pieces with hope, optimism and inspiration.


Love is strength.


Love is awakening to the love that exists in everyone, no matter how much or how little of it we personally experience.


Love is tolerance.


Love is acknowledging that all voices matter, but wanting to understand in a much deeper way how each and every voice matters uniquely, as individuals and collectives.


Love is diversity.


Love is not holding on too tight to what we love. Love is letting love breathe and letting people be free.


Love is freedom.


Love is first learning and then maintaining the highest levels of respect for our truths, and deeply honoring the truths of others.


Love is knowing.


Love is recognizing that we are the world and the world is us.


Love is unity.


Love is looking at harsh and gruesome realities and asking what we can do to make it better.


Love is determination.


Love is believing that nothing is permanent and that we all carry the seeds and power of transformation.


Love is change.


Love is expanding our awareness of what love can be.


Love is infinite.


Love is listening with your ears and with your heart.


Love is empathy.


Love is throwing your arms around someone whose views you don’t understand, and saying, “Let us talk and try to understand each other.”


Love is understanding.


Love is closing our eyes and feeling love in every breath we take, allowing our selves to breathe love in, breathe love out.


Love is caring.


Love is not shying away from the great privileges and great responsibilities we face as members of the human race.


Love is accountability.


Love is exploring the world’s problems in light of history, without ever forgetting the dignity of each and every being past, present and future.


Love is remembrance.


Love is wanting with everything in us to ease the suffering of all beings.


Love is service.


Love is making the world we want to live in.


Love is making the world with love.

New Poetry Book: Seasons!

Litte Poems cover image

Sometimes I think writing is the only thing that keeps me sane (however we define this word). That probably means that I’m just not doing enough of the other stuff out there designed to keep everything in balance, but this still doesn’t take away from my love affair with words.

So … I’ve done it again and make a book! Inspired by both my experience of the famed Japanese seasons, and Zen poetry, I’ve written a little book of pomes that also reflects what my diary process can look like (after considerable editing and reformulation).

Preview the first few pages, share, like, gift the poetically-inclined, support … and as always, I’d love to hear from you! Writing is for sharing is for connection!

Take a look here!