Make Acceptance Your Friend. There Will Be Violets.


I See No Gate…Until I Do  ©2015 Bo Mackison

Stop fixing, stop pushing, stop forcing my will.
All that fixing and pushing and forcing…
none of it makes any difference.

The advice is solid and intellectually
I agree. Of course I see the folly
of relentless effort with no results.

The billy-goat butts a fence and never sees the gate a step away,
I’m fenced in, too, the opening’s within my glance.
Yet with eyes fixed on the ground, I walk in circles.

A gate? I see no gate…until I do.

The whisper of acceptance slips through the gate.
Such a tiny breath it takes as it draws near.

I ignore the whisper. (I’m stubborn that way.)

I hide under blankets where no breeze refreshes.
That doesn’t stop acceptance from nuzzling my ear,
whisper-singing lullabies of ease and calm.

No promises does acceptance offer,
but its ever quiet manner calls attention
to the wisdom of letting go.

My grandfather, he would say
“tell it like it is, then be done.”
He was quiet man, my grandfather, and he was wise.

And I say, I am not sorry.
About the fight. This fight
I swore I’d never quit.

I fought hard in the midst of the whole miserable affair.
Depression as my foe; my best friend, too.
My bed partner and life partner. My lover and destroyer.

I cried the battle cries, bled from nearly fatal wounds.
And now I see, acceptance is the harder battle.

I’m calling it quits. And shaking hands with acceptance.
No more cowering when fear overwhelms,
no smashing glass walls in anger.

All the messes in my life, I’d like to call them friends,
say I’ve learned from those experiences.
Some day I’ll speak those words. With courage.

For the record, it’s been one crap shoot
after another, unpredictable. Risky.
And still, here I stand and say.

This life. It’s a good one.
Violets blossom in the grass, my shoes well soaked with dew.

Flower Mandala – Pink Zinnia

Pink Zinnia ©2015 Bo Macksion

Pink Zinnia ©2015 Bo Mackison

Flower Mandala – White and Yellow Peony


“Come out of the circle of time
. And into the circle of love.” ~ Rumi

6th Annnual Photo Alphabet – Invitation to Labyrinth

I is for Invitation

Central Park, New York City

Invitation to Sit a Spell © 2013 Bo Mackison

When I see a bench in a garden, it’s an invitation for me to slow down and sit for a while.

“Dawdling” my grandfather would have said, but gardens are meant for strolling, sauntering, absorbing, meditating, observing. I always think a garden bench is the fine invitation to stop and sit a spell.


J is for Journeys.

Pictograh by Native American Artist, Agate Fossil Beds National Monument Visitor Center

Journey Life Map 2013 Bo Mackison

On my cross-country trip last May, I stopped at Agate Fossil Beds National Monument in Nebraska.

The ranger spoke extensively of this replica pictograph created the Lakota Sioux. A single drawing, the most significant of happenings, would summarize a year or a decade or even a hundred years. Over time the Lakota told their story in a spiral of tiny drawings.

Their journey begins with a simple drawing, representing the creation of the world.

Next is a drawing of a mastodon, then the animal’s fossilized bones. Hundreds of drawings make up the pictograph, drawn on animal skin. It is a pictorial map of their history.

Wouldn’t it be an impressive project to capture memories passed down from our ancestors, add our own, and create a spiral map like this.

It would be an illustrated, spiraling journey of a family.


K is for Kettle.

Marigold Teapot

Kettle © 2012 Bo Mackison

There are times when nothing will do except to put the kettle on and brew a pot of tea.

If I’m in the mood for to settle into a good book, or write a few letters, or perhaps I just want to sit and daydream, a cup of tea is always a welcome addition. And the brewing of the tea itself is one of the best mindfulness practices I know.

A slow practice, a sacred ritual.


L is for Labyrinth.

Turns on a Labyrinth

Labyrinth © 2013 Bo Mackison

I am a seeker of labyrinths.

I walked a labyrinth on the edge of the Sonoran Desert in early spring. What an extraordinary experience, connecting with the rhythm of the labyrinth pattern. Now I seek other labyrinths to walk. I journal after walking the labyrinth, and then I work my journal writing into poetry. Here is one from earlier this year:

Labyrinth, A Journey

I walk in circles, around and back, around and forth.

There is beginning, middle, end.

Guided by lines of crooked rocks,
an invisible hand on my shoulder,
encourages me, presses me onward.

Take a step,
One more turn,
Approach the center.

And there I stand immobile, my breath fragmented.

The labyrinth’s center, a large pock-marked rock
resting place for mementos and memento mori
small rocks, rings and bracelets, dog tags, holy cards.

Center – the farthest distance from beginning or end.

I move on.
But no longer do I walk a meditative pace.

I am anxious to leave,
ready to bolt, yet
I do not disregard the worn path
the labyrinth’s unspoken boundary.

I stumble to its exit, blinded, my feet guided by the rocky lines,
expelled from its sacred interior
into the other world. My world.

A ghost keeps vigil, its eyes the eyes of the cactus wren
perched on the spire of a tree cholla.
Its whisper, low and moaning, travels the arroyo
carried on swirling winds.


Want to read Part II? Here it is — Elephants to Highways

Coming tomorrow, Part IV :  Metaphors to Place

Vintage Dahlia – and a Wabi-Sabi Lesson

Vintage Dahlia

Vintage Dahlia © 2013 Bo Mackison

“But when does something’s destiny finally come to fruition? Is the plant complete when it flowers? When it goes to seed? When the seeds sprout? When everything turns into compost?” ~ Leonard Koren, in Wabi-Sabi: For Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers  

It’s been a rough few weeks. Really rough. A double loss in our little family. A long time friend’s liver cancer diagnosis. A co-worker’s college aged child killed in a motorcycle accident. Grief is not an easy emotion at any time, and I am working to cope with grief upon grief upon grief, while discovering the life skills I thought would be helpful are woefully inadequate.

I’ve been asking a million “Why?” questions. And getting no satisfactory answers.

Yes, I know life is cyclical and includes — on various levels — experiences of birthing, living, and dying. And during this time of grief, I tend to ask the question “Why?” An unanswerable question, in most situations like these, but it was becoming an unhelpful mantra for me.

I didn’t realize how pervasive “Why?” questioning was throughout the many parts of my life, however, until a wise mentor kindly brought it to my attention. To fully explore her comment, I began to journal. And I came up with a long list of questions:

  • Why did I create my Desert Wisdom Cards? Why am I creating the Prairie Wisdom Cards? Why?
  • Why am I studying teaching methods and taking creativity coaching training? Why?
  • Why am I drawn to mystical and sacred places? Why?
  • Why do I take photos and make the effort to painstakingly process them and post them and print them? Why?
  • Why do I long to travel, to let new places and experiences and cultures seep into my being? Why?
  • Why can’t I stay one place? Why can’t I concentrate on one project? Why do thing always seem more difficult than expected? Why? Why? Why?

My mentor suggested that I need not answer those persistent whys, that they are a both a distraction and an attachment to outcome that does not serve me in my work.

She suggested I read a small book, The Seven Paths by Christine Baldwin, one she has found of great help in its simplicity, and contemplate several of the paths — “follow your purpose while dealing with surprises,” and “ask for what you need while offering what you have.” And finally, “move gently upon the earth.”

The advice is simple, solid, and had a feel of acceptance, an uplifting quality. It offers a message to quiet the continuous chatter of “why” and substitute the more down to earth and less ego-driven mantra — “Do your work and release it into the world.”

I took these wise words one step further, and applied them to my current life situation. The above quote by Leonard Koren in his book on wabi-sabi gave me a container for my thoughts.

Our destiny, each of our destinies, is individual. We are alone on our journey, yet we walk with companions.

We may set fruit, flower, sprout seeds, or turn to compost.  No need to ask “why?” for it is all good, it is all necessary.


Bo Mackison is a photographer and owner of Seeded Earth Studio LLC.   Her exhibit, Garden Party – A Celebration of Botanical Photography, is at the Alicia Ashman Branch Library Gallery in Madison, Wisconsin and runs through September 5, 2013.