An Alphabet in Four Parts – III

Cosmos at Sho-Low

Cosmos and Bokeh © 2010 Bo Mackison

Continuing with the third installment of my alphabet, my year-end/beginning musings:

N is for NEST.

NEST. Nest is simple and symbolic. It’s a comfort word for me. I hold it as a quiet space, away from distractions and other people. Sometimes I curl up in my nest, real or imaginary, to recharge my batteries. Doesn’t take long, and then I’m ready to go on and meet the world again.

O is for ORDINARY.

ORDINARY. When you get right down to it, there isn’t much that is ordinary. If you look closely and examine ordinariness, you often find that the ordinary is truly extra-ordinary. For example, drinking a steaming cup of tea, a simple experience, can be made extra-ordinary with intention, mindfulness, and appreciation for the good things in life.

P is for POTATO.

POTATO. The potato provided me with a powerful lesson. Yes, the potato. A basic food, everyone loves potatoes – mashed, smashed, french fried, baked, even raw and crunchy. Everyone I know eats potatoes – except for my older daughter who has taken only one bite of potato in her life. She decided that she despised the texture and taste and she swore off potatoes as a two year old. Twenty-eight years later, she continues to stand by her choice.

Here is the interesting part. Whenever a new person enters her life, and they discover that Jeanne does not eat potatoes because she  chooses not to eat them, they almost always go out of their way to trick her — to get her to unknowingly take a bite of a potato. It becomes a challenge for them.

Interesting, hmm? She tells people she doesn’t like potatoes, that she doesn’t eat them, and because that doesn’t fit squarely with other people’sapproach to food, they want to convince her to join their side. Now, we are talking about potatoes here. I’m always amazed that this happens repeatedly.  It makes me wonder.  If people react so strongly to a different eating style, just how far will they go to make people conform to their way of thinking about the important topics in life. Now there’s a potato for thought.


QUESTIONS. I love asking questions. I love searching for answers to questions, too. And researching for answers to questions, too. To me, searching and researching are two different methods of knowledge seeking. In searching, I look for answers in my head and in past learning experiences. In researching, I look up what other people have discovered about the subject. Search and research–I think the two methods balances the quest for knowledge quite nicely.


RELINQUISH. I relinquish the story I hold dear. The story of why I am like I am, of how I can’t change because this experience or that exchange marked me for life. Bull hockey. Change isn’t easy. It’s damn hard work. But change is possible. And I am dealing in possibilities from this day forward. Tabula rasa. A clean slate. I can deal with some leftover chalk dust or a few wayward chalk smears, but I am erasing that complicated story. No more worn out explanations that stand in my way of new explorations.

S is for SURVIVOR.

SURVIVOR. I am a survivor. Survivors develop a deep strength within themselves. Sometimes I forget I have this strength. It takes a big challenge to remind me that I can draw strength from my past experiences without dredging up those experiences. A valuable lesson.


TREASURE MAP. I made a treasure map a few days ago while thinking about leaving 2010 behind and entering 2011. I didn’t write resolutions, but I did choose a single word as my focus for the year – POSSIBILITIES. Then I drew islands on my treasure map. I filled in one island with my dreams. I filled in another island with my desires. I filled in a third with my goals for the next three months, six months, and year. I added a few favorite quotations for inspiration and motivation and a few words clipped from newspaper headlines for guidelines. Then I hung the map in my studio where I can see it everyday as I work. I love treasure maps!

The Finale — Underwear through Zest.

About Bo Mackison

I'm a photographer, book-artist, traveler, naturalist, and creator of the Contemplative Creatives Journey, An Online Workshop and Community and Desert Wisdom Cards and Workshops. Though often not well known, I find the desert a welcoming place - a healing space. Its mysteries and gifts transformed me several years ago. Since that first encounter, I return again and again to fill my well in what most people think of as a desolate region. I'd love to share my desert discoveries and wisdom with you. Please subscribe to receive my five part mini email course The Gifts of the Desert. It's my gift to you.


  1. I’m really, really enjoying your alphabet…. great writing and food for thought. Wonderful Cosmos and Bokeh… like the perspective.

  2. I admire your “Treasure Map” filled with possibilities. Happy New Year and good luck on your search for bountiful treasure in 2011!

    • Bo Mackison says:

      The Treasure Map was not only fun to do, it was rather enlightening. Let’s all find bountiful treasures in 2011!

  3. These are such great reads! I love the potato one because it’s so puzzling, and yet, I bet familiar to so many readers. Great little vignettes!

    • Bo Mackison says:

      My favorite is the potato story, too. Partly because I see people do this repeatedly, and think it’s an odd thing to do. Glad you enjoyed the vignettes.

  4. Your “Treasure Map” sounds wonderful. I may steal this idea from you and do something similar. I like the idea of charting out goals and possibilities for the year.

    I’ve been getting caught up with you and really enjoying your alphabet. Your photos are, as always, lush and gorgeous.

    • Bo Mackison says:

      Be my guest, Robin. The Treasure Map is a great project. Maybe we should all post photos of our islands! 🙂

  5. Joanne Keevers says:

    Bo, I can relate to so many of your thoughts and feelings here. This section of the alphabet has really hit home!
    I have a “banana” story, similar to your potato story. My eighteen year old daughter has never liked bananas, can’t ever tolerate the smell and hasn’t eaten one since the days when I spoon fed them to her as a baby, and she spat them out! She, too, has people trying to push the issue of “the merits of banana eating” onto her, just as Jeanne does with potatoes! And she will not conform (in any aspects of her life!)

    • Bo Mackison says:

      Ah, so it’s banana in your family, hmm, Joanne. Isn;t that funny? Such odd things, we humans think are important. Glad you are here visiting and commenting!

  6. Wonderful series, Bo. I hope you have a truly wonderful and successful New Year!

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