Excerpts from a vintage interview with the American Taoist master Charles Belyea

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Photo by Marc Zimmer on Unsplash

Working my way through stacks of saved magazines and newspaper clippings, I reached a 1997 copy of Yoga Journal. It fell open to a centerfold that seemed for a moment like the very essence of serenity.

I had never heard of Charles Belyea, and despite the fact that I know quite a bit about Asian philosophical and religious traditions in general, my knowledge of Taoism was superficial at best.

But my interest was captured when I flipped to the next pair of pages. For whatever reason, my eyes fell on the lower right-hand corner, and this passage immediately stood out:

It’s no use to imitate saints or act in a way premature to your experience. …

Fans of this Galician jazz cartoon share some excellent info — and I explore a couple of interesting questions . . .

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TV Galicia recently posted a long Twitter thread on the making of Carmina Vacaloura

I had a fantastic time writing The Improbable Charm of Carmiña Vacaloura. But it’s been just as fascinating to hear from fans of this unique work.

If you haven’t read my original post — and equally important, watched the video — what follows may seem nonsensical at first. Ideally, though, it will arouse curiosity and send you back to check out the starting point.

If you have read the original post (and didn’t hate it), I’m pretty sure you will appreciate these updates, explanations, and insights.

A Note from Pilar

Up to December of 2020, fewer than a hundred potential readers had viewed The Improbable Charm of Carmiña Vacaloura. That’s a very small number — especially considering that the story was “chosen for distribution” by Medium arbiters, and appeared in a very fine pub like The Junction. …

The unexpected joys of cooking in a 6' x 6' space

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Photo by Ante Hamersmit on Unsplash

No — that’s not a picture of my house. If only!

In fact “my” house is a vintage suburban ranch-style, with plenty of square footage. But as it works out, I can only live in a very small part of it.

Short version — I set out to restore my parents’ somewhat sprawling property, and two years later, I’m still stranded in a cross between Mr. Blandings Builds His Dreamhouse and Groundhog Day.

Both very fine movies, but you wouldn’t want to live in them.

There’s a surprise twist, though. I’ve learned to love my micro-kitchen. On the one hand, it’s amazing how much real cooking you can accomplish in such a small space. And on the other hand, it’s surprising how much cooking you can learn to do without. …

A very brief reflection on coping with change . . .

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Photo by Jan Canty on Unsplash

If you become disoriented by the experience of change,
just return to the form.

If you become overwhelmed by the potential scope of change,
just return to the form.

If you become discouraged at the pace of change,
just return to the form.

If you become afraid of the results of change,
just return to the form.

A couple of decades ago, I printed those four sentences on a sheet of marble-patterned paper. …

An interactive Tarot dance performance, plus some notes on Tarot and the “Christmas Star” of 2020

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I’m constantly surprised by the Tarot-inspired projects I stumble over, in places I would never have thought to look. And this week’s newsletter starts off with the latest example . . .

Tarot on Stage

The goal of Aura CuriAtlas Physical Theater is to “find magic in ordinary situations, presented in unusual ways.” Blending dance, acrobatics, and visual art since 2013, the company takes its name from the combined qualities of lightness (Aura), strength (Atlas), and play (Curiosity).

Given the adventurous spirit of Aura CuriAtlas, it’s not surprising that in 2019 they decided to translate the Major Arcana cards of the Tarot into a work of performance art — bringing to real life the essential symbolism of the cards. …

What poets know . . .

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Photo by Simon Berger on Unsplash


I wrote this story in stages over the first half of 2020. But worse-than-usual things kept happening in the world—and it never seemed like the right time to publish a story about sadness.

Now we are almost at the end of the year, and everything is much worse. It’s not just what has happened, or what might. It’s what we know.

So perhaps this may be the right time.


The luxury I’m thinking of is to be sad without having to explain — to yourself or to others. …

After all, making plans is one of the most creative things we do

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Photo by Paico Oficial on Unsplash

I’ve been in pursuit of the “perfect planner” for as long as I can remember. And I suspect a lot of other writers are similarly obsessed/perplexed.

Writing life just isn’t a good fit for standardized, calendar-focused planners — at least not usually. If you happen to have the sort of writing job that involves lots of deadlines and editorial meetings, you probably need an hour-by-hour daily view.


If you are writing on your own — whether part or all of the time — you need a strategy that can combine big goals, small tasks, lots of notes, ideas to investigate or organize, and more. …

Poet Marianne Moore on the creative benefits of scientific rigor

Born in 1887, Moore became the most influential female poet of the modernist period. And at midcentury, an unlikely American celebrity.

Here’s a fascinating passage from her 1960 Paris Review interview . . . .

Interviewer: I wonder what Bryn Mawr meant for you as a poet. You write that most of your time there was spent in the biological laboratory. Did you like biology better than literature as a subject for study? Did the training possibly affect your poetry?

Moore: Did laboratory studies affect my poetry? I am sure they did. I found the biology courses — minor, major, and histology — exhilarating. I thought, in fact, of studying medicine. Precision, economy of statement, logic employed to ends that are disinterested, drawing and identifying, [can] liberate — at least have some bearing on — the imagination, it seems to me. …

If every president is either a Cat or a Dog — which species has been occupying the White House for the past four years?

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Photo by Tatiana Rodriguez on Unsplash

Welcome to the Pets and Politics Forum. We have had many new visitors since the nation learned that an incoming Biden administration will soon restore the traditions of presidential pets.

But with the absence of White House pets for the last four years, we were forced to pursue alternative topics. And among the most frequently discussed:

“Is Donald Trump more like a dog or like a cat?”

In analyzing this question, we have focused on five key points:

1. Coloration. There are no orange dogs. A few golden retrievers have a slightly orange cast in certain lights, but it is not really worth mentioning. Certainly none of them could disappear in a pumpkin patch. On the other hand — cats come in every conceivable shade of orange, ranging from the deep natural hue of a tangelo to the neon brightness of a Cheeto. …

A slightly vintage look at the intersection of interior design and bibliophilia

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Bevery Field’s inscribed books. HomeLife, October 1999

For the second half of a long century, Beverly Field was a legendary maverick in the glitzy world of Dallas design. While every other top tier “decorator” was focused on making interiors look as sophisticated (read expensive) as possible, Field took an eclectic, often eccentric approach.

And she made it work, brilliantly.

Here’s how D Magazine summed up her career, after Field’s death in 2016 :

She was a master at combining the high with the low, the old with the new. Her rooms snapped and crackled with antiques, avant-garde colors, books galore, exotic finds, humble nothings. …


Cynthia Giles

Writer at large, Ph.D. in interdisciplinary humanities. Persistently curious! Creating “The Constance Project” and a new Tarot book. www.cynthiagiles.com

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