Onward to Vermont

For the first time I can remember I did not enjoy my drive through Vermont – and it was a stunning one.  Rainbow, misty clouds, rolling storm clouds, deep green valleys with high peaks.  I took a new route, up to Albany then east via 7 to 11 out of Bennington.  Many interesting towns, mostly ski towns; and crossing though the National Forest.  I felt an underlying tenseness though, rather than the feeling of freshness and joy I usually experience.  Dread perhaps?  Before I left Eric’s I had indigestion.  I never really got to relax at Eric’s because of all the followup from moving out, and preparation for the trip to come. I stopped at Hanover and had supper at Canoe, a supper I wasn’t hungry for because I’d cracked open a tub of almonds while crossing the state and managed to eat half of them from the anxiety I was feeling.  When I left Canoe and walked past the many college students out enjoying themselves I felt quite alone.  I was missing friends, the comfort of proximity to people and places familiar. As I careened up 91 I listened to my mother’s John Denver CD, skipping over all the super-earnest songs to the favorites, and tried to feel some poignancy for what I’m doing.  My mind has been dull and numb for a few days.  I am both petrified of this new role in my life at KCL, and of the upcoming program that I’m co-coordinating, which I feel ill-prepared to tackle in my current state of mind.  I think I’m still in shock that I have completely withdrawn from NYC and am virtually, purposely homeless…homeless but not free. 

Meet Jewel Song – my 2010 Subaru Outback, in the lot at Karme Choling.

Returning one last time

I’m driving back from picking up the Aurelia at my apartment, and saying one last goodbye.

Walking through a day after moving, I’m struck by the sense of the space being a clean slate. Not devoid of my presence but cleansed of a lot of stuck energy that got in the way of seeing or appreciating my life. Just walking through the rooms, this wide open space of the living room, it feels like you can breathe in here. Like you can relax…in a way that I couldn’t breathe and relax up until or even including yesterday…just being surrounded by all of my life and who I’ve been got in the way somehow. Oddly, I almost feel like I could now reoccupy this space in a completely new way, having cleared it of everything, and just start over, here.  I don’t think it would last…as soon as I put one thing in this apartment it would become somewhat constrained again.  So when I came in, I felt that…that clean quality. And that sense of open possibility. And then I started to cry…well no actually I felt that sense of clean possibility and then I felt like dancing in response to it, so I was twirling in the living room – it’s a really big room, you could hold a ballet class in it for 10 ppl, well maybe five ppl…but it’s 22′ long and 11′ wide, so I was just spinning back and forth and just enjoying the energy of space as well as the energy of all the good things that happened here. And then I leaned against the windowsill and I started to cry, because I hadn’t been able to recognize any of that when I was living here.

When I was driving down I was picturing my place and I had this funny thought, wouldn’t it be amazing if I walked in and all of my stuff was back where it had been; I don’t mean stuff stuff, but that my bed was in my bedroom and it was made, with the blanket I like, and my desk was there and my books were there, and my living room had a sofa again, and the rug, and the table.  I guess that’s the sense of loss that seems inescapable, as much as I recognize its necessity.  I don’t see it as a ‘wrong’, it’s just part of the process. Often when I’ve purged stuff I’ve felt liberated, lighter. But I think I’m still in the shadow of losing my parents last year, so it’s just not as satisfying at the moment.  But I also wonder how much of it has to do with my age and my circumstances now at 45 as opposed to 25 or 35.  A sense of not having fulfilled certain aspirations and making up for that with having collected and documented things and experiences and put them in boxes that now are occupying a 10×10 storage unit in Kinderhook.  After all, the clean slate, the sense of having tamed something – it’s really just been condensed into a small storage room. Whenever that storage room is liberated then all that attachment energy will be flying out like the ghosts in Ghostbusters.

I took the Aurelia. and it’s heavy…it’s not a tree, but it’s a tall Aurelia, and I opened the front door that swings on its great powerful hinge, trying to carry this thing out at waist level and the door slams on the top of the branches of the Aurelia, and chops them off. So it’s now a full foot shorter…and I am horrified, and I apologized to the plant, and I open the door again to pick up the leaves and there’s a huge pile of leaves and branches and I’m thinking oh God, the poor thing, I should have let them take it in the truck yesterday instead of in a CAR for two hours, at least it would have been standing. I don’t know what I was thinking.

Driving back now, my mind prods me about my meeting on Monday to explore the position I may fill at Karme Choling in the fall.  I’ve hardly had time to consider or prepare for it. Playing in my head is the conversation about my motivation to be there.  I have so many aspirations for my time…there and on some level my time left on earth. For discovering who I am, rather than who I feel I’ve been pretending to be. Doing that through writing, art, practice. To have space and time.  Developing a deeper commitment to practice, and teaching, developing skill at conveying the very profound teachings I have received to people who can really use that in their lives. But there is a feeling of wanting all of it to be a space for me to explore on my own terms, and the idea that I am also going there to give myself and my talents to the place, and all the joy, gift, and surprise that will arise from that has not been at the forefront of my mind. I’m keenly aware that my intention is to find a way to be out in the world – not in a comfortable, secluding, non-speedy place. Which is not what Karme Choling is at all – if anything it’s a supremely challenging place – I expect to continually be ushered into discomfort, exposure, awkwardness.  That is part of how it works on you to be there.  Which is why I think it will lead to learning how to be in the world as my genuine self, unafraid of being foolish, making mistakes; and better able to affect the lives of others. And to be recognized, to know what impact I have made to some degree.  This last part squeaks a little; the desire to be recognized is a kind of doubt, a wrinkle in developing the confidence that is actually inherent. We have to start somewhere, though, so here’s where I am.

The last 9 years I’ve been engaged in the spiritual path in Shambhala have at times been quite isolating, a way to hide from what I don’t understand or want to relate with, even as the process of engaging in a wisdom practice forces one to be exposed and vulnerable.  Day to day I feel such a tendency to focus on the “me project” but that burns itself out when faced with how little that has accomplished in the past.   The driver to benefit others has to come about from within,  it doesn’t really work any other way.

Moving Day

I’m sitting on Henry ‘s porch at Eric’s in Spencertown. Its 8:07 pm and the frogs have just begun their evening chorus around the pond. I’m numb from the days of overwhelming details and work. The10x10 storage unit (with 12’ ceiling) is packed tight up to the  Gate. Poppa Jenk’s chair did not fit so it went into Eric’s dry basement along with crates of books and practice materials and mishmash of toiletries I’ll pick up in August when I pass through here again.

I’m sitting in an arondack chair with a glass of red wine and a vista of late spring green ridge and lots of bursting garden beds. I’m here but somehow still moving.  The momentum was building for months before the actual packing began and it may take a while for it to dissipate and my mind to relax.  It was raining in NYC while they were loading the truck and continued to drizzle and pour all the way to Philmont. Luckily the sun was still visible up here and we loaded the storage unit dry. I have an appalling amount of stuff. Appalling to me because I remember how much I had when I moved into that apt 7 years ago and it’s just about doubled. I always think its better, I feel better certainly, when there are not a lot of things to look after. But somehow stuff sneaked up on me these last few years. Every time I have moved I’ve had to come face to face with who I’ve been the last few years via the stuff I’ve been attached to and there is nothing that makes that less painful. It could be interesting as well, but the moving of it is monumental.

Sadness is my general feeling today.  People are saying to me “are you excited?” But I’m not there at the moment. I had a tearful good bye with Melissa today, who has been a good friend close friend and confidante. She took half a day off to help send me off. I had lots of help which was gratefully easy to engage. I can’t thank Ian, Irene, Melissa, and Alison enough.

The next few days will be busy still – preparing for a retreat I am coordinating in Vermont next week; and tying up loose ends from moving.  Also beginning to relate with the road trip that begins immediately after Vermont. Here at Eric’s I will do my meditation practice with a lot of support from the environment – physical and people-wise. It should provide a means of relaxing with all the changes.


Well One Week from MOVERS and I’ve spent a few hours in front of the computer instead of packing, trying to tidy some loose strings…ever any end to loose strings when you’re moving?  How does life get so complicated?  Oh yeah, it’s all those little moments of putting papers, bits, etc. in a hypothetical drawer.  I’m putting my life in a BIG drawer, called a storage unit, in just a week from now, after which I won’t miss…
just remembered I put the kettle on as the smell of hot metal just reached the bedroom. …

The background for packing…yesterday and today, the tornado in Okla City.  Such huge forces are moving through so many lives this year. So many heart-opening experiences.

Mysteries of the cedar chest

Any information on these ladies is desired.  When we moved my mother to Connecticut she gave me an old cedar chest that I’d never seen opened – it had been in the attic of the house where I grew up and not downstairs where I could have snooped in it.  When I asked her, my mother was unsure what these are or how they came to her.  Two Great Aunts who seem to have accumulated things from Europe are the most likely source, but alas they have long passed on. These appear to be souvenier dolls from the early1900’s from three towns around Turin, Italy.  Imagine the two spinsters, sisters, on their sea voyage, two weeks on the ocean, and perhaps a few months in Europe before returning home to their retirement in southern Delaware near the Maryland border.

(Italian) Dolls – plastic, painted; felt & satin clothes, mostly immobile figures (no head turning, leg moving, but arms move)

Tags read (L-R)
1. 26 Piemonte/Bardonecchia
2. Valle D’Aosta/St. Vincent
3. Torino/Pragelato


Changes are a-coming to Leanander.  I’ll be leaving New York at the end of the month after 21 years and there will be a road trip this summer. Family visiting, car camping, Blue Highways-style travel. Perhaps some adventures will appear here… anything is possible.


Jan dreams of her teacher, the Vidyadhara.
“I’m REALLY there.” He says when she is awake.
I remember my own dreams of him…like old trinkets on a shelf, dusty
he was really there then too – remember?
but I have forgotten.
For a long time I forget, and when I remember, it’s because
a voice in a box some distance
from these ear buds recalls it
2 years ago–just airing.

The days are taken
with our forgetting.
Once and a while we have an inkling that
grace is within our reach.

Released from the silver snake into the cold air, enjoyably.
A faint whiff of cut grass and tempered car exhaust.
Hill from station to home climbs in a steady march. The walker
moves along circles of sodium light on twisting streets.

All this effort to find connections between these various things,
To unlock longing.
Wright does it best, but few read, or listen.
Piles of leaves greet
by the door.
They attract snakes, which become
the dreams in our fitful commuter naps.
It’s dark when we get home. Don’t forget,
the neighbor is coming to pick up her mail.

Posted in Writing by Susan Jenkins



My mom, Sandy, passed away on October 2 at her nursing home in Shelton, CT.  It was unexpected, although these last few weeks there were signs that she was heading for a tough winter.  Thankfully she died in her sleep quietly and peacefully, and did not suffer.  She was a resident at a wonderful nursing home in Connecticut for the last 8 years and touched the lives of many of the people there.  She has been at Bishop Wicke Health Center after a bought with blood cancer in 2004; the last three years she was on dialysis three times a week to support her kidney function, which had deteriorated from diabetes.  She was very active socially at Wicke up to the very end, and never lost her sharp mind or sense of humor.  I visited her several times a year and took her out for luncheons and we explored the different towns of south-central Connecticut, including museums and other cultural institutions.  She was able to travel into New York City with me on two occasions on her birthday to see broadway musicals, the cream of which was seeing The Lion King last year on her 79th birthday.
She spent most of her life in the Malvern (PA) area, so her service was held there this past Tuesday at her choir’s church, Good Samaritan in Paoli. Because she had a home at Wicke for the last 8 years, people were very fond of her there and a service was held Thursday for her at the home. Each was a lovely gathering, but the service at the home was so warmhearted – informal, lots of remembrances from staff and residents.  They loved seeing the picture board my sister made of Mom’s transit through life.

Notices appeared in the PA Daily Local News, Connecticut Post, and Philadelphia Inquirer.

It’s been quite a year.


My Dad passed away on March 29th.  He was an amazing and complicated man, and as many know a well-known figure in the racing world. He had an incredible rebound last March after a months-long series of dramatic hospitalizations for heart, lung and neurological issues, in which he not only got fully back to work running his 50-year-old company Jenkins’ Competition here in Malvern, living on his own, and driving his inimitable custom-built red GTO coupe, but also managed at the age of 80 to start working out at a gym 3 times a week (he liked the physical therapist there so much he would buy her coffee and a danish on his way in).  Things quickly became very hectic as we are organizing the arrangements and fielding calls from his hundreds of colleagues and supporters over the years. Thankfully I was able to practice with him for some time at the hospital after he died, so he might have a peaceful transition. 

If you’re curious, this links to a number of articles about my Dad.  There will be something in the NY Times on Monday also.