Hope and Spring

March 12, 2015

Thoughts of spring can give us hope when we’re really tired of winter weather. Intellectually we know of course that spring will eventually appear as it always does, but thinking of spring can boost our spirits when winter seems endless.

Because hope and spring are often closely associated, it’s fitting to take a look at hope this month, and that’s what we do in this month’s article. Hope is complex and has positive and negative aspects—we’ll explore both sides of it.

This month’s issue also includes some poetry that celebrates the flowers of spring, a book review about The Human Age, a list in honor of Pi Day, and a contemplation on curiosity. In addition, there’s a photo that reminds us that spring will soon be here, even if it doesn’t look that way when we gaze out the window.

Quiet Time in February

February 12, 2015

February is made for quiet time. When the snow falls, it casts a hush over our neighborhoods. And even when it doesn’t snow, February is quieter than many other months: no lawn mowers, no leaf blowers, no crickets or cicadas.

In recognition of this quiet time, this month’s issue includes a reflection on silence and its complexities. 

You’ll also find an article about starring in one’s own life, a book review about The Art of Communicating, a trio of observations about February and a photo depicting a dramatic display at day’s end.

New Year, New Look

January 12, 2015

Welcome to the second year of Blue River Monthly. For 2015, the homepage has a fresh look, which includes a column format for the links to the contents of the current issue. 

This month’s article is about moving forward when we’re feeling stuck. We delve into the concept of “being stuck” and consider some steps we can take to free ourselves.

Additionally, in the January 2015 issue, there’s a review of the book The Grace in Aging, a list of 5 energizing soundtracks, a meditation on creativity and a photo that encourages us to spend a few moments looking ahead to warmer weather.

Mindfulness and Holidays

December 1, 2014

Each December many of us find ourselves racing around trying to complete our holiday preparations in time. We can be so concerned about getting everything done in a timely manner: decorating, buying and sending cards, shopping for or making gifts, baking, party-planning and more. We can be in such a rush that we’re not really paying attention to our experiences—we’re not being mindful. This makes December an excellent month in which to think about mindfulness and about how we can cultivate it in our lives, and that’s what this month’s article is about.

This issue also includes a quiz about some of the books that have been featured in Blue River Monthly this year. In addition, you’ll find a photo of a glowing arch, a review of the book Clara and Mr. Tiffany, a list of 12 top words and a reflection on generosity.

This December, consider giving yourself permission to slow down enough so you can appreciate the delightful fragrance of pine, the sweet taste of Christmas cookies, the familiar rhythms of holiday music. Practicing mindfulness in the holiday season can lead to more wonder, joy and peace during our preparations and our celebrations.

Saying Thanks

November 7, 2014

It turns out that saying “thank you” more often is one of the easier ways for us to improve our well-being. We take a look at many different aspects of giving thanks in this month’s article. Among other things, we find out that scientific research is being conducted on the benefits of cultivating gratitude.

The November issue also includes a poem about everyday gratitude, a photograph that conveys a building’s spirit, a book review about The Endless Practice, a list of 8 delicious items for a vegetarian Thanksgiving dinner and a meditation on kindness.

This month is the perfect time to thank you, the readers of Blue River Monthly, for visiting this website this year. Your time, attention and feedback have been deeply appreciated. It’s been extraordinary to have the opportunity to explore topics such as the power of threereading as meditation, and peace of mind with you. Thank you!

Putting Things Off

October 6, 2014

Have you ever noticed that, sometimes when we put off a task or chore, the situation actually turns out for the better? Of course, there are times when procrastination is clearly problematic and in such cases we need to find effective ways to deal with it. But in other cases there can be beneficial aspects to procrastination. This month’s article looks at how procrastination is related to planning, urgency and creativity and at how it can sometimes benefit us.

This issue also includes two reviews: a music review about Loreena McKennitt’s latest album, The Journey So Far,  and a book review about the Pulitzer-Prize winning biography, Margaret Fuller: A New American Life. You’ll also find a fascinating autumn photograph, a list of 5 things to enjoy about fall and a reflection on reliability.

At the end of this month, Halloween will reliably appear, as it does on October 31st each year. Here’s wishing everybody a Happy Halloween filled with spooky decorations and sweet treats!

Back to….

September 5, 2014

September could be called the “Back To” Month. Back to school, back to work, back to routines. Summer feels like it’s over for most intents and purposes, though we might still have some hot-weather days. Time to busy ourselves with fall activities.

Maintaining peace of mind when the busyness of life engulfs us can be challenging. In the article in this issue, we investigate what peace of mind means to us and how we can cultivate a peace-of-mind habit. There’s also a poem about our lives, a photo that conveys the feeling of fall, a book review about How to Meditate, a list of 6 documentaries you may have missed and a discussion of persistence.

Hopefully we have all had a chance for rest and relaxation this summer and are ready to get back to everything that’s waiting for us. Though it can be tough to say “goodbye” to summer, we’ll soon be able to enjoy various delights of fall, including spectacular foliage!

Reminders are Good

August 20, 2014

Over ten years ago, a friend shared three simple words with me: “Reminders are good.” I’m not sure where she got that saying from, but that was the first time I’d heard it. That little saying has stuck with me for over a decade.

When she said to me, “Reminders and good,” she and I were probably discussing a topic such as the present moment. Even after one has learned about and experienced the value of focusing on the present moment, life can get busy and complicated. We may then find ourselves getting caught up in worrying about the future, and we can be distracted from the present moment. An action such as picking up a favorite book of meditative readings can remind us to focus on Now.

Similarly, we might know intellectually that we need enough rest and relaxation, but it can be easy to get caught up in the momentum of all of the things that we want to do. Then it can be tough to remember to take a break. Reading or hearing about the benefits of downtime might remind us that taking a break is really important. The article, “Being and Doing,” in this month’s issue of Blue River Monthly, can serve as a reminder about the value of rest and relaxation.

These types of reminders are gentle, and they just whisper to us what we already know. There are so many types of distractions in life, and it can be helpful to have reminders about things we value. We can set up gentle reminders for ourselves and we can benefit from reminders provided by others. 

Press "Pause"

August 7, 2014

Summer is still with us, though the “back to school” sales have already been popping up. With its heat and humidity and vacations, summer gently reminds us that we need to press the “Pause” button sometimes, and allow ourselves to simply be. This month’s article delves into the relationship between being and doing in our lives and encourages all of us to allow enough time for rest and relaxation.

Also, this issue includes a follow-up to January’s poem about the present moment, a photo of an extraordinary ceiling, a book review about True Refuge, a list of things it’s too hot to do and a meditation on humility.

Every season seems to have lessons to teach us, and if summer could talk to us, it would say, “Slow down.” We can take that lesson to heart and find numerous ways to rest and relax in the last weeks of summer.

Independence and Beaches

July 7, 2014

For over two hundred years, the beginning of July has been a time for celebrating freedom and independence. Blue River Monthly takes a look at independence this month, in honor of the Fourth. Many folks like to spend the Fourth of July at a beach, and this month’s featured photograph is of a serene summer seashore scene.

This issue’s article explores different ways that people pay attention and how those ways are associated with personality types. In addition, the July issue includes a review of the new CD by Sarah McLachlan, a book review about An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth and a quintet of reasons to be grateful in July.

Whether you’re heading to a beach or other destination this month or you’re staying at home, here’s hoping you’re finding plenty of reasons to be grateful throughout this month!

Halfway Through the Year

June 2, 2014

This issue marks the halfway point in Blue River Monthly’s first year. So it seems like a good time to conduct a little survey about the various articles and features that have appeared on this website in the first six months of 2014. You can make your preferences known between now and June 30, 2014, by answering the short list of questions in the Two-Minute Survey.

In addition to the survey, this issue includes an article about giving freely of one’s time and effort. It also includes a dramatic photo of a bridge, a book review about A Religion of One’s Own, a trio of observations about being 50 or over and a meditation on integrity.

This month’s survey is just one way to provide feedback about this website. Your comments and questions are welcome at anytime at bluerivermonthly@gmail.com. And if you haven’t done so yet, you can send a message to that email address with “Mailing List” in the subject line to receive an email notification shortly after each issue is posted. Thank you for participating in the Blue River adventure!

Patience in the Month of May

May 5, 2014

May is a month of anticipation. When we were kids, in May we looked forward to the end of the school year. As adults, we look forward to summer travels and to luscious, locally grown tomatoes. If we can remember to be patient this month, we can appreciate the pleasures that this part of the year has to offer, such as strawberries and azaleas, instead of feeling that we’re just rushing towards the delights of summer.

Patience happens to be the topic of this issue’s “word-of-the-month” discussion. In addition, this issue includes an article about a fascinating exercise involving 100 questions that you want answers to. You can also find in this month's issue a photo of a profusion of tulips, a poem inspired by “A Room of One’s Own,” a quartet of vacation tips and a review of a book called Quiet 

Patience comes in handy when we're anticipating something wonderful that is weeks or months away, such as a summer vacation. Instead of wishing away the days between now and the desired event, we can choose to really appreciate the unfolding of each of those days.

A Cup of Tea for Your Soul

April 21, 2014

One of the original concepts behind this website is that it would be like “a cup of tea for your soul.” What does that mean? A cup of tea can have a wonderfully soothing effect. It can be the focus of a relaxing pause in your day. Many types of tea can also perk you up. A cup of black or green tea can give you a little energy boost and then you can go on to tackle the rest of your day.

Similarly, the Blue River Monthly website is designed to be a place for a peaceful pause; for example, the subdued color scheme was selected so that the website would have a relaxing atmosphere. In addition, the site is aiming to stimulate thoughts with content such as this month’s discussion of authenticity and the review of the fascinating book, Brainstorm. 

You can take a little break from life’s stresses by having a cup of tea. That’s also what you can do when you visit this website—take a mini-vacation from everyday stress. You’re invited to visit Blue River Monthly every month for another cup of tea for your soul!

Reading as a Meditative Practice

April 7, 2014

We do all kinds of reading in our lives, from reading for pure entertainment to reading purely to extract some key facts from a document. One particularly valuable kind can be described as "reading as a meditative practice."  In the April issue of Blue River Monthly, you can find an article that explores this type of reading and a list of books that are suitable for meditative reading.

You can also discover a photograph of a peaceful lake,  a book review about Brainstorm, a fun quick quiz about the contents of the issue and a musing on authenticity. 

Meditative reading can be a tool that we use as we try to follow an authentic path. On days when we might not have the time or energy for other meditative practices, we can spend a few minutes reading in order to feel centered and focused.

The Charm of Three

March 3, 2014

We’ve all heard “the third time’s the charm” and “three strikes and you’re out.” And we’ve all wanted to hear “those three little words.” In this issue, you can read an article about how the number three is powerful in various ways, including some that are scientifically documented.

You'll also find a poem about our need to experience sunlight, a photograph that celebrates the color green,  a book review about Help Thanks Wow, a trio of thoughts about spring and a contemplation on wisdom. 

Spring will be starting to make an appearance in the United States this month, and it will be especially welcome this year. The initial hints of spring can vary around the country. In some regions, melting snow heralds the arrival of spring. And in the southern half of the country, we are on the lookout this month for the first daffodils of the season; when we spot those golden blooms, it feels like spring has sprung!

Where is the Blue River?

February 17, 2014

A reader recently asked if the "Blue River" that is in this website’s title can be found on a map or in imagination. That’s a very good question! This particular river is indeed a place that is located in the imagination.

The name Blue River Monthly reflects three ideas behind this online publication:

  • Visiting the banks of a peaceful river can be relaxing and stimulating. This website aims to have similar effects, with a calming atmosphere and thought-provoking content.
  • The image of a river can also bring to mind notions about being “in the flow” of life. When you’re in the flow, you’re completely present to what is happening at this moment. You’re not caught up with regrets about the past or worries about the future. If you’re interested in being “in the flow” more often, this publication will try to help make that happen.
  •  Lastly, a river can signify adventure. You never know what a river has in store for you; there can be all sorts of surprises just around the bend. Blue River Monthly will attempt to surprise you each and every month.

Please feel free to send your questions about Blue River Monthly to bluerivermonthly@gmail.com!

Mid-Winter Musings

February 3, 2014

Although February is the shortest month of the year, sometimes it feels like the longest. But once we get through February, we know that spring is going to show up soon.  Hopefully, this issue of Blue River Monthly will perk up your mid-winter spirits, like a hot cup of tea does when you come in from the cold.

In this issue, you'll find an article that considers the importance of questions that you ask yourself, a music review about Mary Chapin Carpenter's new album, an illuminating photographbook review about The Aviator's Wife, a list of romantic movies you may not have seen yet and a meditation on compassion. 

Speaking of romance, here's wishing everyone a Happy Valentine's Day. You don't even have to be in a romantic relationship to celebrate the day. Everybody deserves some chocolate on February 14th!

First Issue of Blue River Monthly

January 6, 2014

Welcome to the first issue of Blue River Monthly. In each issue, you’ll find refreshing content presented in a soothing atmosphere. The types of content will range from articles and photos to book reviews and poetry and beyond. Topics will include well-being, searching for meaning, relationships, personal priorities, spiritual growth and more.

In the premier issue, you can read an article about new ways to look at weight, a poem about the present moment, a book review about Until I Say Good-Bye, a list of things to enjoy about winter, and a reflection on courage. Also, you can meditate for a few moments on an inspiring sunset photograph.

A new issue will be published in the first week of each month. To receive an email notification shortly after each issue is posted, you can send a message to bluerivermonthly@gmail.com with "Mailing List" in the subject line. Your email address will only be used to contact you regarding Blue River Monthly—it won’t be sold or given to anyone. The notification service is free of charge, as is all of the content on the Blue River Monthly website.

Thank you for visiting Blue River Monthly. You are invited to visit every month and to share in the Blue River adventure.

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