Peaks of Circumference

Without a doubt, September is my favorite month of the year. It is full-on fall in Alaska, so my return to the Lower '48 at this time each year gives me a second shot at summer. Here in Puget Sound, September tends to dish up the best weather of the year, clear and sunny with cool mornings and warm afternoons. This year is no exception. These weeks leading up to the fall equinox offer a space in between my busy guiding schedule in Alaska, and my work as an MBSR teacher and contemplative retreat leader in Puget Sound during the fall and winter months. For me, September is my time for New Year's resolutions, a chance to pause and reflect on where I've been over the last year, and how I might do things differently this time around. The satisfaction of much hard work under my belt gives way to the traditional spaciousness of the fall season. Something in me is both ready and willing to slow down.


One of my resolutions this year is get keep my outdoor orientation from Alaska going through the fall and winter more than I have in recent years – to get out from behind my computer and into my body every day. I'm doing a lot more biking, hiking and kayaking in my spare time than I have in several years. I did some hiking with Sally around her birthday, then took five days off to climb Glacier Peak with my son Alex last week. Glacier Peak lies on the circumference of the circle that was the basis for my book The Circumference of Homeand I've had a longstanding goal of summiting the mountain. We climbed through the seasons from summer to fall to winter and back, and found ourselves immersed in the first blast of winter in the high country that kept us from reaching the summit this time. But it was a glorious shared adventure with father and son, of pressing physical limits, and basking in some of the most remote and gorgeous scenery in the Lower '48.

That blast of early winter led to a fairly grueling hike to get off the mountain, but a glorious one, as disappointing as it was to fail in our summit attempt. The experience pressed our limits of endurance, but it was a memorable experience for us to share, one we will always cherish. It also helped me push back some unnecessary limits that have taken hold in my mind about my own capacity to undertake this kind of expedition. I was encouraged to see what my body was able to do.

Here in the lowlands again, I resume teaching Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction classes this week at the Samaritan Center of Puget Sound, and will start up at the VA Hospital in Seattle soon. Teaching seems to be where more of my energy is going these days. I'm doing less writing and speaking, finding much nourishment in to process of directly sharing what I love with others as a teacher. I will resume more frequent blog entries, too, now that I'm settled back on the home front.

I wish you all a Happy Fall Season. Here are a few of the mindfulness retreats I'll be leading in the coming months. Don't hesitate to contact me if you want to join in, or collaborate with me in hosting a similar retreat.