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As a former ballet and modern dancer, I am no stranger to broken toes. The first one – the right “piggy that stayed home” – was broken in high school as I twirled off stage during a class, misjudging and running into the red velvet stage curtain. And the metal flagpole behind it. The second one, also in high school, was broken during a performance at UNC-Chapel Hill. I performed a leap and landed smack on the tip-top of the left “piggy that stayed home”. The show must go on, so dipping offstage as part of the planned choreography, I gasped to a fellow dancer “I think I just broke my toe,” and then went back on stage. Sure enough, x-rays the next day proved that I had split the bone smack down the center. That one took a bit longer to heal. That’s also when I discovered that, no matter how bad the toe break, as long as it’s not a compound fracture, all they do is tape the toe to its neighbor toe and let it heal up on its own.

In other words, doctors are often a waste of time and money.

Moving ahead a year to college, the right pinky toe was the next victim. In that case, the perpetrator was not myself, a wood floor, or a metal pole, but a rather large woman in very spikey heels who took an unfortunate lurch back onto said toe with said heel spike while we were crammed together in the subway. I can still remember the pain, my sharp exhalation, and her titter of “Oh, sorry.” Poor little pinky toe. I believe that was in the Fall of freshman year, because I still danced on it.

That spring, I broke the right little piggy that went to market. I have no idea how. I believe it was a stress fracture from class. As soon as it healed, I broke the left one in the same way. My early demise of my dancing days was starting its slow approach. Both healed, and I danced on through another two years or so, but finally a torn back muscle, and knowing that I just wasn’t good enough, made me hang up my slippers with a few regrets and lots of happy and proud memories.

Last week after work, my big toe hurt. I didn’t really think anything of it, because I’m at that point where things just hurt inexplicably. Perhaps the weather was changing. Maybe I had caught it in the sheets while I slept and sprained it, Who knew? It felt mostly better for the rest of the week. Then I went to work on Saturday, and by Sunday, I knew it was broken. Another stress fracture. Bruised, swollen, tender, and exquisitely painful, particularly when moved or touched in certain ways.

Having learned how useless doctors and x-rays are in these scenarios, I lathered it was BF&C, taped it to its neighbor, and am letting it heal. Note the charming mustache duct tape. In the absence of paper tape commonly used for such medical procedures, this was all I had. My other option was duct tape with flames, but I found this more amusing.


So here’s to all the toes out there. They do an awful lot of hard work for as small and fragile as they actually are. Let’s hope that the next time I share them with you, they’ll be dug in the white sand or somewhere like this.


Marina Cay, Tortola, British Virgin Islands.

Quote of the day: We begin so aware and grateful. The sun somehow hangs there in the sky. The little bird sings. The miracle of life just happens. Then we stub our toe, and in that moment of pain, the whole world is reduced to our poor little toe. Now, for a day or two, it is difficult to walk. With every step, we are reminded of our poor little toe. Our vigilance becomes: Which defines our day—the pinch we feel in walking on a bruised toe, or the miracle still happening?” — Mark Nepo

Daily gratitudes
The sound of rain on the woodstove pipe
Tidying up
Roly-poly glasses
Feeling happily tired


How many of us move through our days in a state of virtual unconsciousness?  How many times in the course of the last week, month, year, decade, have you said to yourself  “Just put your head down and get through it.”?  (By the way, the last time I did that was yesterday, on the way to Job #2.)

There seem to be two levels of what I’ve taken to calling Conscious Living- let’s take it from micro to macro, shall we? 

The first – the micro-concept – is what I referenced above – a day-to-day sense of what you are doing, why you are doing it, and how it contributes to the universe. 

The second, the macro-concept, plays with what path you are on in your life, and whether you consciously chose that path, or have consciously stayed on that path.

These are huge thoughts, thoughts that are difficult to wrap your brain around because they are so vast.  You can praise or fault yourself based on these concepts, though doing either will do no good whatsoever.   When looking at your life from these perspectives, it’s important to be non-judgemental, loving and accepting of yourself as wholly as possible.

Before I go further, let me insert the caveat that all these opinions are mine and no one else’s.

Daily Conscious Living:  This is more than just having a good time, although that’s part of it, because whatever forces have put you in this life at this time are loving forces that want you to enjoy yourself, as well as learn.

If you are living consciously, you have an awareness of spirit, of how your actions and the outside forces that can influence your life make you feel. Consequently, you choose how you are going to react to those forces.  We all seem to have set of knee-jerk responses that we use when we’re not living consciously.  Taking the extra ten seconds – even while it’s going to the bathroom or going through the car wash – to think about how you are reacting to little things, and perhaps choosing to react differently (which makes it an action, not a reaction) is a huge step towards conscious daily living.

In addition, daily Conscious Living involves understanding how you contribute to the planet, the universe, the energetic forces of which everything is composed.  (Sounds awfully woo-woo, doesn’t it?)

When you’re overwhelmed or overtaxed with things to do, it’s easy to fall into a self-pity mode – all these little bullshit things I have to do, and nobody cares or appreciates them, unless I DON’T do them, and then I catch hell, and none of those things really matter anyway. That way of thinking is self-destructive and self-fulfilling at the same time.  That’s also when I get into the bull-with-lowered-head mode.

But again, taking that part of your brain that can, when you’re driving, you can look at the road ahead, the rearview mirror and the side view mirror in a microspan, and that sequence of actions keeps you (theoretically) safe on the road, and put a different spin on all of those little things that seem so unimportant, you can see where those things really ARE important – even if it’s just important in keeping your life going smoothly.  If you take that perspective, look at those small tasks, you’ll find that yes, there is some value, or NO THERE ISN’T – at which point you can make a choice about keeping that task, discarding it, offloading it, or changing your attitude about it. 

Did that make sense? Interesting, huh?

It’s all about conscious choices that have root in attitude and perspective, and which translate into actions and life choices.

If you can walk away from your day, saying “I accomplished something,” you’re on your way to conscious daily living.  Ralph Waldo Emerson (maybe) said:

To laugh often and much;

To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;

To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;

To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others;

To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;

To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.

This is to have succeeded.

The Transcendentalists did a good job of summing up my feelings about daily Conscious Living.

Tomorrow, we’ll cover the concept of Conscious Living for Whole Life.  Unless I get ambitious and feel I need to accomplish something else tonight.



January 2021


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