Time + Constancy + Attention + Mountains = Inspiration

My writer’s view looks out upon the Cascade mountains in Central Oregon, the Three Sisters which every day greet me from the window of the room where I write. There are days when they stand with impeccable clarity against the sky, like the trustworthiness of a sentence ringing true.

There are days when the mountains vanish, yet I know they are there, shrouded in the mist of clouds. Those Three Sisters reappear when the clouds subside just as words and images cloaked in wandering thoughts come into focus, given time, constancy and attention to the creative work.

“Creative work needs solitude. It needs concentration, without interruptions. It needs the whole sky to fly in, and no eye watching until it comes to that certainty which it aspires to but does not necessarily have at once.”

— Mary Oliver, Upstream: Of  Power and Time (New York: Penguin Press, 2016), p. 22

The Reflective Café

Fourteen years ago, I listened to a gentle yearning. I imagined a place for a group of women to speak about their lives in the company of one another where their words and their stories would be held with delicate care. Those women became the Reflective Café and for almost eleven years once a month, three different gatherings of women met over a week in my living room, until the unexpected appeared and I moved to Oregon. And now, each of those women and their stories remain woven into the fabric of my life.

During those afternoons, the reflective side of ourselves blossomed. We discovered the still person within each of us and we realized the wisdom our inner lives hold for us. We found time there together, time to be still and time to listen to our selves.

Reflective Café was time.

Time for exploring questions about life.

Time for paying attention to how we live our lives.

Time for listening to one another and our stories.

Time to sample the sound of our own stories.

Reflective Café was a place.

A place where we reflected upon our lives in the midst of the busyness of our lives.

A place where we discovered the poetry inherent within our lives.

A place where we learned to “dwell in possibility” (Emily Dickinson).

Reflective Café was conversation that had and has no ending.


There used to be a stark difference between Reflective Café days and all the other days.

I would come away from Milree’s  feeling a sense of calm, then I would wonder how long it would take to wear off in the sometimes  abrasive outside world.

But now, not so much, I carry the calm with me. I can take a deep breath in the middle of the grocery store.

— Chris Desforges (a Reflective Caféer)