January 01, 2011

Daisy Hickman on The Way We Live

Daisy Hickman, poet, blogger, wise soul writes here as my guest. She writes on “living.”

The philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre asserts in After Virtue, his examination of the history of philosophy and the importance of the Aristotelian virtues, that “...a human life is understood as a progress through harms and dangers, moral and physical, which someone may encounter and overcome in better and worse ways and with a greater or lesser measure of success …” The examination of existence is central to how we live if we agree that the journey matters: for one swallow does not make a summer.

Daisy worked 20 years as consultant and staff with nonprofit organizations, devotes her life and work to all the meanings that the word philanthropy evoke: in her word and her deeds. She lives now in eastern South Dakota, a small college town—before that: Indianapolis and St. Louis—Midwest girl meets the prairie that she writes about in her book Where the Heart Resides: Timeless Wisdom of the American PrairieWilliam Morrow 1999 and where one year ago she launched a blog that is extraordinary for its following: Because Daisy, as I have written here, defines generosity.

I give you Daisy Hickman:

Caring for Life
by Daisy A. Hickman

“The hidden harmony is better than the obvious.”–Pablo Picasso

I’ve given this guest post for Mary a great deal of thought – detecting a number of viable paths to reflect on writing, her memoir, and life, in general.  But let me back peddle for a brief moment.

o   I’m not yet 60, nor am I writing about “sex after sixty.”

o   I met Mary L. Tabor via various social networks and found her honest approach to life compelling, so when reading her memoir, was not surprised by her “open heart.” Nor was I bothered by her book’s content. Frank in places, yes, but since (Re)Making Love: A Sex after Sixty Story is about a critical life passage, whatever is relevant is relevant.  

o   I launched a site February 1, 2010, called SunnyRoomStudio with a primary goal of providing a sunny, creative space for kindred spirits. This has not only offered a wonderful opportunity to connect with kindred spirits, but the site is also a great venue for others to share ideas, literary and artistic talents, inspiration. 

o   Since my first Studio Guest had to be a special one, I invited Mary Tabor to write about her memoir and her path to writing. Graciously, she agreed. So, now, it is my distinct pleasure to share a few thoughts on Mary’s blog and have decided to write about a subject that is of vital importance these days: caring for life.

But why on this cold, blustery winter day would I choose this topic—what does it have to do with anything, right? A couple of reasons come to mind, but first and foremost, the need to “care for life” explains so many things we do. Things that others may not “get” without a bit of thought and reflection.

For instance, we almost lost our beloved schnauzer, Noah, recently, and Mary L. Tabor recently published a memoir about a difficult transition in her life—one of lost love, one of found love. But what do these experiences have in common? Everything.
  •          By caring for others, including our pets, we care for life.
In going to great lengths to get help for Noah, we honored the life force within him (and within each of us). And, Mary, in going to great lengths to share an extremely personal story that rocked her to the bone, is caring for life.

You see, the illusion of separateness that is still at work in the world can prevent us from
seeing and understanding that our primary mission on Earth is simply to: care for life.

Whether it is towering evergreens, a family pet, the planet, a cause you believe in deeply, or a relationship that is most meaningful—caring for life is at the core. Obviously, caring for ourselves is part of the equation.

The beauty of this approach is that life makes sense from this perspective. Everything is an expression of a divine light, and by honoring that glorious light, whenever or wherever it shines, we honor our spiritual essence and extend our creative hearts into the realm of the universe itself.

Mary sets such a great example with her book and her life journey, one she willing shares with the world. And bravely so, I might add.

In caring for life through literary achievements that capture what it means to struggle, to endure, and to eventually arrive in a better place, Mary is living proof that caring for life is what makes us human—it is the very heart of the matter.

So let us remember to honor the life force that abounds around us on implicit and explicit levels, always taking time to appreciate the depth of wonder life provokes in us. Behold: the magnificence of life in all its many variations.

Even a crooked tree points to something more.

As Eckhart Tolle writes in Stillness Speaks:

“The interconnectedness of all things: Buddhists have always known it, and physicists now confirm it. Nothing that happens is an isolated event; it only appears to be. The more we judge and label it, the more we isolate it. The wholeness of life becomes fragmented through our thinking. Yet the totality of life has brought this event about. It is part of the web of interconnectedness that is the cosmos.”

Ah, yes.

“This means: whatever is could not be otherwise.”

Of course!

“In most cases, we cannot begin to understand what role a seemingly senseless event may have within the totality of the cosmos, but recognizing its inevitability within the vastness of the whole can be the beginning of an inner acceptance of what is and thus a realignment with the wholeness of life.”

·      So when you feel the need to question your purpose in life or its overall direction, remember to care for life in whatever way tugs at your heartstrings–it’s all good. 

Best wishes from SunnyRoomStudio for the year 2011—
may it bring you wisdom and spiritual joys beyond measure.


  1. Oh, this is so good, Daisy. Divine light, glorious light. Light eternal, without end.

    And on this, of all days, the first light of a new year. Happiness to you, Mary, and all readers.

  2. Thank you, Rob, for the lovely words on dear Daisy's wise behalf and so generously to me. So glad to have found you.

  3. Rob and Mary -- indeed, it is the dawn of a new day, a new year, and perhaps, the divine light within will shine especially bright in 2011 and beyond. I'm glad you enjoyed "Caring for Life", Rob; it was a pleasure to write.

    Mary, a most talented author, devotes time and attention to caring for life in so many inspiring ways -- the topic was a natural fit for her blog. And what could better honor the seamless nature of our existence, the myriad connections that integrate everything, than this timely discussion of the profound wisdom of caring for life in whatever way calls out to us?

    Maybe life isn't as complicated as we thought!

    Thanks, Ron, for stopping by to read and comment, and Mary, thanks for sharing this piece that seemed to flow from a "sense of knowing" beyond time and visible realities.

  4. Daisy, thank you for writing this lovely essay about caring for life. I love the way you direct thoughts toward an enlightened vision. I also love the way you illustrate those thoughts with your photographs.

    What a powerful thought: "a sense of knowing beyond time and visible realities."

    Thank you for directing me to Mary's site!

    Happy New Year!

  5. Hi Monti, thanks for stopping by to read and comment -- as an author and artist, I know you are busy. Appreciate the time and interest and I know Mary does, as well.

    Glad you enjoyed Caring for Life -- your kind words are a joy to behold!

    Best for 2011 -- hope to see more of you! :)

  6. Hi, Monti,

    So glad to find you. Am now following your blog. Thank you for visiting here. Going off to look for you on Twitter.

    Your blog looks fab. Wish I could figure out how to a networked blog on Facebook. Am trying! but not there yet.

    My thanks for stoping by here! And of course, that's all because of the incredible Daisy!

  7. Hi, Daisy and Mary, and a Happy New Year to both of you. Daisy, I love the way you weave quotes and pictures into your posts. The books you cite are always good ones!

  8. As I read your beautiful, "caring" thoughts I was reminded of the very human haiku poet, Issa whose journey spanned from 1762-1826. One of his more famous poems speaks of his love for all vulnerable things--from children to animal to insects.

    Lean frog,
    don't give up the fight!
    Issa is here!

    This is only one translation, but it seems to capture his feelings about caring for all life and I keep it in my mind, especially while I'm confronted with news reports.

  9. Shirley,

    Thank you for visiting here. Daisy is the person who suggested I send my memoir to you--and I did. I fear it got lost in the pile though. I do hope you'll find it again. I do so enjoy your blog that I subscribe to and read regularly and suggest others who visit here should do so as well.

    Daisy has been and continues to be a gift in my life.

    Happy New Year--and kudos for your success with your amazing blog 100 Memoirs!

  10. Cleemckenzie,

    Your lovely haiku by Issa and Daisy's careful reminder of the extraordinary in the ordinary remind me of our search--and I think all of us who attempt to write are in the process of the deeply human search--for meaning in our lives. Cynthia Ozick in a book of essays entitled Art and Ardor says and I paraphrase, some of us will say or believe in the tree instead of G-d, the woods instead of G-d, the poem or painting instead of G-d. But there is no instead of in this search. To find, to discover the ordinary—the wine on the table, the bread that we break with our hands and all that is in the world we can observe, see if we are looking—is to find the extraordinary. All we can really have in our lives are these ordinary, concrete and specific things we see and experience. To get to the extraordinary we must trust these.

  11. Warm new year greetings Shirley and Lee ... so kind of you to drop by to read and comment. Such wonderful friends and kindred spirits!

    (Mary, Lee also wrote a guest post for SunnyRoomStudio -- Universal Connections -- and if you haven't already connected, she's on FB and Twitter!)

    Shirley, I appreciate your kind words ... we share a love for nonprofits and words,so I hope 2011 is a great year for you in every way. As Mary noted, she's a fan of your blog and so am I ... the memoir genre is forever creative and filled with stories of people we would love to know better, isn't it? I admire everyone who finds the courage to write a memoir that leads us all to the deeper side of the pool -- :)

    Lee, I am a big fan of Issa. In fact, I receive a daily haiku of his from an Issa scholar (I'll have to find his name), and you're right, the one you quoted captures the spirit of this post brilliantly. Thanks for making the creative connection -- love it!

    Best to both of you for 2011 -- may it deliver abundance, peace, and inspiration.

  12. "Caring for life" - perhaps the most important focus of any life, any year. A perfect post for the start of 2011. Thanks, Daisy - and Mary for posting this. [And you are so right about Mary's gritty memoir - a literate approach to challenging years. Not many have her courage to write so openly about painful experiences.]

    Jay O'Callahan dear friend and superb storyteller once wrote this to me: "It is hard to love. It is hard to say it. Hard to be disappointed by people, but the lovers of the world have courage. They dare and are hurt. But they really live, and they are the ones who know above all what it means to be alive. The first virtue is courage; we cannot live without it."

    Caring for all of life takes courage. Thanks for the reminder, Daisy.

  13. Hi Daisy - when I read "Obviously caring for ourselves is part of the equation, " I thought, hmmm, unfortunately, not so obvious. How many of us have set aside caring for ourselves in the name of caring for others?

    Remembering that caring for ourselves is caring for life could have a profound impact on that word so loosely and mistakenly used: selfish.

    love it - thanks!

  14. Hello Cathryn -- you are indeed a bright light in the world, and make an excellent point: caring for life takes courage.

    (For Cathryn's blog, Catching Courage, to to http://catchingcourage.com/ -- it's always a worthwhile place to visit!)

    Wishing you an inspired and poetic 2011! Thanks so much for dropping by to read and comment -- we're getting the new year off to a strong start, aren't we? :)

  15. kathyloh,

    You are so right about this--how caring for oneself is so easily associated with "selfishness." I am reminded of Rabbi Hillel who in the Talmud, so wisely says, "If I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am only for myself, who am I? If not now, when?" Ethics of the Fathers, 1:14, Talmud

    Thank you for the thoughts you brought to all of us today and how you built on what Daisy wrote for us here.

    Thank you for visiting my blog. And thank you, Daisy, for being the spirit that you are for bringing kathyloh to me today.

  16. And Cathryn, as always, what a pleasure it is to hear from you. If others are visiting here, perhaps you will want to go here, where Cathryn Wellner spoke as my guest on The Risks the Storyteller Faces: http://maryltabor.blogspot.com/2010/10/cathryn-wellner-on-risks-storyteller.html

    Ah, Cathryn, I offer my thanks again.

  17. Hello Kathy, and yes, of course, caring for ourselves is a big part of the equation! In caring for ourselves, we also care for others -- can't have one without the other. I think this might lead to some poetry one of these days. Thanks so much for stopping by to read and comment on this 2nd day of a brand new year! Wishing you many joys for 2011 -- Daisy

  18. "...always taking time to appreciate the depth of wonder life provokes in us."

    Yes, and it's an important part of my wish for myself in 2011.

    An enlightening post, and I thank you both.

  19. Ah, Marisa Birns,

    Who has a lovely, creative blog I now follow: "Out of Order Alice," after Marisa found me on Twitter. Ah, the generosity of Twitter. Do check out Marissa's new short-short on a wedding and more.

    Marissa, thank you for stopping by and adding your good voice here.

  20. Nice to meet you, Marisa! And thank you for picking out one of my favorite sentences to highlight. If we accomplish nothing else in the new year, "appreciating the depth of wonder life provokes in us" will be quite enough.

    Best wishes for the new year!

    And welcome to SunnyRoomStudio ... please drop by when time permits @ www.daisyhickman.com -- kindred spirits are always in focus in my sunny writing studio :)

  21. Hello Mary and Daisy, Happy New Year to both of you. I have been away, but hope to catch up with online friends soon. I love what Daisy writes about caring for life, and yet, must say that SOME events need to be judged and isolated. I was reminded of this while recently visiting the tiny town of Deggendorf, Germany on the Danube, Martin and I visited the Deggendorf museum, which had some interesting exhibits on the history of the town, including a medieval panel from 1338 showing the systematic murder of the Jews, mostly likely as a result of blaming them for the Black Death. The words "murden alle Juden" were on one of the panels. (You're both friends on facebook and I posted a link to photos there -- the museum images can't be posted publicly.) Sometimes you have to have to isolate and name ugliness and hatred. But otherwise I absolutely agree with your thoughtful post.

  22. Hello Mary. So pleased to meet you through Daisy's invitation to drop by. Daisy "to care about life" is an awesome grounding for the beginning of 2011. Your words roll with the rhythm of a brook running after the snow has fallen - its darkness catching the suns light and reminding us to greet the day that is offered to us. Beautiful piece! Terrill

  23. Thanks, Susan, and welcome back! What do you have planned for 2011? More travel? Sounds like you had a great trip; planning to check out your photos this week. Glad you enjoyed Caring for Life -- it's a pleasure to see kindred spirits dropping by to read, ponder, comment. It's all good! Very best wishes for 2011!

  24. Terrill -- I think YOU are the writer! I know you're an artist, but I'm seeing your many talents here on Mary's blog! So kind of you to drop by; I'm sure Mary will visit your blog in turn. (It's lovely, Mary! And Terrill is a guest blogger in SunnyRoomStudio this month -- it will be most worthwhile I'm sure!)

  25. What a wonderful post, Daisy. I am so glad you gave me the link to stop by because I love this site and want to pick up Mary's work as well. What beautiful sentiments from you both :)

  26. Daisy, in this message you gently re-mind us that we are all ONE... "the illusion of separateness that is still at work in the world can prevent us from seeing and understanding that our primary mission on Earth is simply to: care for life". When we can wrap our minds and hearts around ALL of humanity and know that we are all ONE, all related, all seeded from the same piece of ectoplasm, all from the same spark of G-d, then we will be able to respect and care for life. You are right, caring for life is our prime directive.

    Thank you for this reminder, and thank you Mary for sharing your space with Daisy. Happy 2011 to all.....Max

  27. Good morning Rebecca, lovely of you to stop by to enjoy Caring for Life and Mary's blog. I had a feeling this would strike a chord with you! My best wishes to you for 2011. May it bring fresh joys and creatvie abundance!

  28. Max, we are definitely on the same wavelength. I'm so glad we connected as kindred spirits because you bring a sense of truth and knowing to the world and your many activities on your solar farm in Pennsylvania: Jolico Farm. I like your word choice: prime directive.

    You do so much "caring for life" -- so thank you for all you do. I appreciate your time in dropping by to read and comment, and I'm sure Mary does, as well. (Give Moses a healthy treat for me!) Wishing you lots of sun this year for solar energy and your lovely gardens.

  29. Beautifully expressed, Daisy.

    I'm most struck here by the words: “The interconnectedness of all things: Buddhists have always known it, and physicists now confirm it. Nothing that happens is an isolated event..."

    How I wish everyone on earth felt this way - that we're all in this life on this planet together...

  30. Good morning Savvy! So nice of you to drop by this winter day ... and thank you for sharing your thoughts here on Mary's fine blog!

    I agree; until we truly understand that everything is part of the web of life, life on Earth will continue to be difficult, challenging, and fragmented. It can be so tempting to compare and contrast, to let our minds analyze and refute, but none of that seems to take us beyond square one.

    Caring for life requires that we look within to discover our inner wisdom, which is universal in nature and origin. Thanks again for your visit! Appreciate it!

  31. Daisy, you expressed this concept perfectly – caring IS what life is about.

  32. Hello Jane, so nice to see you this new year 2011 -- I hope you are doing great! Warm thanks for the lovely comment; what would I do without such thoughtful, wise, and talented friends? Can't even imagine.

    So here's to caring about friends and to the days ahead. May they be filled with joy as we extend our spirits to others in creative and inspirational ways!

    Stopped by your blog recently. Jane, you come up with the best topics! Are you working on a new novel? I am determined to read "The Ride" this year. Thanks again for stopping by today!

  33. Daisy, you are such a positive spirit. No wonder you and Mary found your way to each other. You certainly live and breathe what you write about. Thank you for that! And, Mary, I started re-reading your memoir and shake my head in awe at how wonderful of a writer you are. I see great things in 2011 for you...

  34. What a beautiful introduction Mary to our mutual good friend, Daisy.

    Daisy, … :) … I really love the goal of your hidden in the open harmony site: SunnyRoomStudio - "providing a sunny, creative space for kindred spirits."
    This is just charming, n' so very welcoming.

    The caring way that you care for your friend Mary is very impressive, Daisy for it seems to come to you most naturally.

    And, if I may say that caring for life; be life a wife, life a husband or the like needs to be brimming over with reciprocity that both may be free to truly be.

    Serenity n' joy,


  35. Carol, How lovely to know that my memoir was worth re-reading! You've made my day. And as always, thank you, Daisy for enriching the world.

    In your debt,


  36. Richard,

    You are the first person here to comment on the introduction and I am so pleased that you noted it. Daisy exudes serenity. And you have added to my joy.

    Thank you,


  37. Hello Carol and Richard -- your comments are quite lovely, of course, and definitely appreciated. As I wrote on my blog recently, via Long Winter's Nap, I'm focusing on Gratitude, Humility, and Believing this year.

    Both of you bring these attributes to life in powerful ways. And I remain extremely grateful for kindred spirits who cross my path ... you are ALL an inspiration to me ... gifts of a lifetime, gifts of the spirit.

    I'm glad you enjoyed "Caring for Life" -- it seems to bring 2011 into immediate focus. And for that, I'm most grateful. Blessings for the new year. May we all encounter creative abundance and experience the joy of sharing our efforts with others!

  38. You're most welcome ... :) ... dear Mary.

  39. It was an honour n' an inspiration ... :) ... dear Daisy to read your work: {Caring for Life}

    I greatly like your focus for this new year - Gratitude, Humility, n' Believing. I feel from you that you are in reality a very grateful, most humble, n' sincerely believing person. As such, your focus is more than merely a focus, it is in truth for you very much a way of life.

    At times I find that caring for life even in thought can be painful; painful with learning of the innocent being deprived of life.

    I hope you don't mind me sharing the following from a story in my work {Innkeeper's Fire}

    "Misty Knight switches off the telesatavision in the sitting room, and with tears in his eyes retreats into his study. There he sits at the window, ninety-one floors above the screeching streets, lost in painweightful thought.
    He had been watching THE NEWS as was his habit every morning for the past years of years, before leaving for his place of work.
    And he speaks unto himself with a great heaviness of heart, saying,
    'How can I continue to merely doodle while there is so much hardship taking place in the world? I have a comfortable room to study in, a soft bed to sleep in, delicious food to fill my stomach with whenever I so desire, a loving family, and a lot of freedom.'
    And he continues, saying,
    'Borderless television brings the hardships into my where they cannot physically touch me room. Of course, initially I am shocked, and hurt for a while, and then I have to allow myself the convenience of forgetting all about them.
    Today it is minus one degree Celsius outside. I feel it to be very cold. On the telesatavision I have just watched refuge children with few clothes, no socks, no shoes, running noses, and tangled hair. Tears form and, immediately freeze on their cold faces as they attempt to walk on minus twenty-degree icesnow in a refuge camp somewhere down on the planet floor, far far beneath my highrise cosinest. Dirty brown coloured issue tents where flapping and swaying in the wind.' …"

    New day-ly,


  40. Daisy, for me the power of your column is found in the investment in the sacredness of the living rather than the distraction of materialism. If this is the only screening of our existential movie, then I want to pay attention to the important parts!

    I'm sure almost losing Noah caused you to see him in an even higher light of love. It's too bad we all can't see each other in such light.

    You and Mary are not mere bloggerettes (as it were) but Keepers of the Kindred Flame.

    I am proud to call both of you my friends and I hope that 2011 is a special year for both of you.

    But Mary, either you need to change the name of your blog or we have to stop meeting like this!!

    I, too, am under the age of sixty. And I'm too self-conscious to write about sex.


    In Love & Peace,

  41. Well, Keith,

    I for one hope we will continue to meet like this! Thank you for a great and generous comment.

    And Richard,

    Lovely. Thank you for sharing the excerpt.


  42. Hello Keith, glad you dropped by to share your thoughts here ... you always bring something new to the conversation and that is a unique ability, my friend! "Keepers of the Kindred Flame" -- I like that, thank you. And I feel sure Mary will like that idea, as well.

    I do try to elevate the conversation whenever possible simply because human nature has a way of forgetting the "good" and dwelling on the "bad." Without constant reminders, our minds tend to leave us struggling in the muck ... so I try to give what I appreciate receiving: encouragement, ideas, positive feedback, creative perspectives that shine a new light on the dusty corners of our minds.

    Thus, I truly hope Caring for Life has made a tiny contribution to your day, as you certainly have contributed via your comment. We are a terribly materialistic society, a dynamic that leads us in all the wrong directions time and time again. So here's to unseen forces ... may they guide us wisely and well ... and yes, Mary might want to consider your thoughts re her blog.

    How about something more expansive to capture more of her writing goals or book titles ... maybe ... hmmm ... something like: A Writer's World or Literary Coffee Shop or ... ? ... well, I may have to sleep on this one, and Mary, if I am way out on the wrong limb here, just edit this reply accordingly!

    Besides, this was Keith's idea ... but, then again, he does make an interesting point :)

    Alas, I must close here, as it's time to walk Noah, and we all know he's a priority in my life. (They want him to lose 5 pounds, so it's carrots for treats these days.) Caring for life ... it's all good!

  43. Here's my take on Keith's comment about my blog's title Sex After Sixty: I think it was tongue in cheek. Anyone who visits here knows that this a place for thought and the bare truth of the matter. It's edgy and not politically correct

    Example: Frank Orlando's guest post on sex or the dream of it with a younger woman: http://maryltabor.blogspot.com/2010/11/frank-orlando-on-sex-after-sixty-sicily.html

    I for one like the edge.

    Others may weigh in.

  44. I love the title of your blog. To me "Sex After Sixty" implies a lifetime of sexuality and pleasure, and an acceptance of one's own self -- regardless of one's actual age, how that age group is generally perceived, and the limitations place upon it by society.

  45. Richard, truly your work is in a literary league of its very own -- far exceeding what I, or many writers, could ever produce. I commend you for your amazing work and also thank you for your thoughtful comments above. You are indeed a poet and a scholar ... hoping the new year is blessed with your creative light.

  46. It's all good, Andree! As we experience life, we realize how little is set in stone and how wonderful it is to go beyond names and form ... the spiritual wilderness is vast and joyful!

    I, for one, love brainstorming and sharing creative ideas ... ah, and that's the beauty of true friendship. And I'm so glad you enjoyed Caring for Life -- a pleasure to ponder and to write. So kind of you to drop by today!

    Sending blessings for a peaceful day ... our Noah is running circles in my SunnyRoomStudio (writing space) and bringing such joy to our lives again. If I had a million dollars ... I'd donate it to the University of Minnesota Vet Medical Center!

  47. Dear Andrée Lachapelle--and of course, dear Daisy!,

    So glad you commented. You have articulated what I meant: "Sex After Sixty" does not mean that I have an interest in pornography or that this blog is about sex. It means this is a blog about being alive and joyful and thoughtful: It's about living: the whole bloody mess of living: the good, the bad, the foolish--the journey. And, of course, I wrote a book here that began as this blog: a memoir about how, when my husband of of 21 years left me, I cratered, then embarked on a relentless dash through the hazards of Internet dating, the loving, the illusions, and through it all a hard look at my foibles, whimsy, desolations, and in the end indomitable hope when all was hopeless. The key to my recovery is and continues to be the search to answer the question, Who am I? and how do I become whole again with or without the man I love? I am gifted by the journey of the living and the writing that became this true story.

    Thank you, Andrée for saying what you so briefly and articulately said.


  48. Already by your gracious n' beautiful words … :) … dear Daisy is the new year being blessed with creative light. You are a light brightening up my pathway.

    Thank you so much, dear friend,



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