Under Santa Fe Skies

by Susan Tungate

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays

Every day, I am filled with gratitude for the friends I have in my life. I’m talking about head shaking astonishment that I should be so fortunate. As the poet David Whyte wrote: “The ultimate touchstone of friendship is not improvement, neither of the self nor of the other, the ultimate touchstone is witness, the privilege of having been seen by someone and the equal privilege of being granted the sight of the essence of another, to have walked with them and to have believed in them, and sometimes just to have accompanied them for however brief a span, on a journey impossible to accomplish alone.”

So this holiday season, I wish you all the gift of friendship, and I wish you all a very Merry Christmas.

With love,


CONSOLATIONS: The Solace, Nourishment
and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words.
© David Whyte & Many Rivers Press

Photo of Santa Fe Plaza from santafe.org

International Day of Happiness

Today is the International Day of Happiness. I am of two minds about this Day of Happiness. On the one hand, happiness has become a money driven business with a myriad of books on happiness, songs on happiness,  blogs on happiness, and even a degree in happiness. On the other hand, happiness is a good thing. If it takes raising happiness to a commercial level for people to focus on staying present and viewing the world with wonder, so be it.

In that spirit,  as I lived my life this week, I took note of people and things that  brought a smile. I highly recommend the exercise. Seek and you shall find. Everywhere. Here are a few smile producers to celebrate International Happiness Day:

What were they thinking?

A car that looks worse than mine!

The Mets season opener in Virginia!

A mural painted on the back of a building facing the railroad tracks. Someone painted it even though few would see it.

A mural painted on a wall near the Farmers’ Market. Note the sky above is indeed the sky above.

Inside the Farmers’ Market, lovely racks of tea from Artful Tea. The teas are delicious.

Apricot blossoms on the neighbor’s tree. And they were not killed by last night’s frost.

Look how my tulips fan. How do they know? I cut each the same length.

Lisa Harris, owner of the one and only Video Library, always makes me smile.

And Georgia and Sofie and Harry make me smile every time I see their little faces.

Your turn. Have a Happy Day!




Milles Merci!

Thursday afternoon I returned home from teaching a memoir class to find this bouquet of gorgeous stargazer lilies on the patio in all their glory. What a nice surprise. But no note identifying the sweet soul! So, in hopes the person who brightened my day is a reader, MILLES MERCI and a big virtual hug to you. I placed the lilies on my dining room table where they fill the house and every breath with that scent of all scents. I hope you will let me know who you are.







Cracks and Gaps

Ring the bells that still can ring.
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything.
That’s how the light gets in.

Leonard Cohen “Gaps”

Spring Flowers and Cinnamon Coffee Cake

I made a cinnamon coffee cake last Saturday, prompted I suspect by the spring flowers in Santa Fe.


My Mother loved flowers. She wanted me to know the names of flowers. It was important to her.


When we lived in Georgia, at the first hint of spring we began our hunt for green leaves and buds. Mother and I toured the yard after dinner, wandering from spot to spot as she pointed and said, “These leaves will be purple iris. Look, the red and yellow parrot tulips made it through the winter.  These are the purple crocus. White snow drops. Daffodils. Cherry blossoms.”


She would have loved spring in Santa Fe. Georgia and I walked to the Plaza last weekend and along the way I saw all of the flowers I met with Mother: iris blossoms, red tulips, forsythia, pussy willows, cherry blossoms, apricot blossoms.


“Flowers are for the living,” Mother would say. I am the one living to see them and remember her, which brings me to the coffee cake. Mother had many wonderful qualities and skills but cooking wasn’t one of them with a few exceptions. One exception was her cinnamon coffee cake.

On occasion she made one for Sunday breakfast. The fragrance drew me to the table and the cinnamon and butter and brown sugar melted into the warm cake kept me there until the last crumb. That coffee cake was love.


So after Georgia and I toured the flowers, I went to the grocery store. A few hours later a friend of mine and I sat at my table with a vase filled with daffodils and ate warm cinnamon coffee cake at 3 P.M.  Flowers and cinnamon coffee cake are for the living and for remembering those who loved us and taught us all we ever needed to know.

Have A Good Week


KINDNESS by Naomi Shihab Nye

Before you know what kindness really is

you must lose things,

feel the future dissolve in a moment

like salt in a weakened broth.

What you held in your hand,

what you counted and carefully saved,

all this must go so you know

how desolate the landscape can be

between the regions of kindness.

How you ride and ride

thinking the bus will never stop.

the passengers eating maize and chicken

will stare out the window forever.


Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,

You must know sorrow as the deepest thing.

You must wake up with sorrow.

You must speak to it till your voice

catches the thread of all sorrows

and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,

only kindness that ties your shoes

and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,

only kindness that raises its head

from the crowd of the world to say

It is I you have been looking for,

and then goes with you everywhere

like a shadow or a friend.



Rest in peace, Eric.

Eat, Pray, Write, Relax: A Rejuvenating Weekend in Santa Fe


It’s Spring! What better time and what better place than Santa Fe to nurture, center, and revitalize body, mind and spirit than a weekend in April or May immersed in the inspirational beauty of Santa Fe, New Mexico. My friend and Southwest tour guide extraordinaire Patrizia Antonicelli, who owns Seven Directions Tours, is offering this Santa Fe experience in April and May.

Offered the weekends of  April 13-14, April 27-28, May 11-12, and May 25-26, the Seven Directions Tours experience begins on Saturday morning at 10:00 a.m. with my writing class “Writing Your Memoir: One Vivid Story at a Time.”

Memoir writing offers you the opportunity to observe the past with fresh eyes, reflect on your life purpose, clarify your future path and preserve your unique stories. Always with humor, I promise to demystify the process of memoir writing and provide the simple tools you need to begin. The class will end at noon.

From 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., you will be immersed in Native American culture by spending this afternoon with a Native American healer who will offer a blessing and healing ceremony which is sure to nourish and renew the spirit.

Saturday dinner, held from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., will be a memorable experience. A premiere Native American chef will prepare centuries old traditional dishes for you in her home using organic ingredients. The history of each dish will be explained. To end the evening, her Navajo sous chef will drum and sing for you.

Sunday morning from 10:00 a.m. to noon will be spent writing with me.

The experience will end Sunday afternoon with an herbal massage and flower and mineral essences with the Native American healer. Massage sessions will begin at 2:00 p.m. You will return home with flower and mineral essences as a remembrance of this special weekend.

I urge you to make this peaceful, revitalizing weekend a gift to yourself. Patrizia will not disappoint, and I would love to write with you. Locals are welcome to join in, too.  You may even get to meet the beautiful and talented Georgia the Dog!

You will stay in town at a typical southwestern accommodation. Upon request, for this weekend, Seven Directions Tours will provide ideas and itineraries for anyone wanting also to enjoy the beautiful surroundings and the art and culture for which Santa Fe is famous.

For further information and media inquiries call Patrizia Antonicelli at 505.820.3305 or visit www.sevendirections.net .

Just Dance

This last week, I have heard stories of many people struggling here under Santa Fe skies, struggling with paying their bills, with health issues, with relationships, with loneliness. This rainbow and the words of Rumi are for you. I hope this week meets you with ease.

Dance, when you’re broken open.

Dance, if you’ve torn the bandage off.

Dance in the middle of the fighting.

Dance in your blood.

Dance when you’re perfectly free.

Sunday Smiles

A few smiles this Sunday. First up, my nephew attempting one last snow angel before all the flakes melt. He is our little optimist.

Next, a video featuring a toddler, a puddle and a dog. Click here.

Last but not least, Queso the Cat hiding in his person’s purse: I Can’t See You, So You Can’t See Me, Right?

Beth Anna’s Queso the Cat

Peepers Deserves a Happy Holiday


© LS King and S Mercer

This is Heidi, happily snuggling with Santa. A few years ago, the beautiful and talented Heidi was adopted by her people from a shelter. Heidi was just a little baby fur ball at risk since she was separated from her mom way too early. Her people nursed her to good health and adopted her. Heidi and her people cannot imagine life without each other. Heidi will have a lovely holiday playing and snuggling with her folks.

This is Peepers. I met him Sunday at Teca Tu where he is staying, hoping to be adopted. Peepers is a beautiful big boy with a purr that tells you how happy he is you stopped by to scratch his head. He is outgoing and very social. Due to his intelligence, he needs a secure and stimulating home.  I would have taken him home right then and there but for Harry the Cat who would not appreciate another large male cat in the house. This is Peeper’s story.

Peepers’ owner surrendered him to the shelter when the landlord reduced the pet per unit ownership to one. Poor Peepers was the one to go. He became anxious and stressed at the shelter. Wouldn’t you?  Felines and Friends, a nonprofit organization, was kind enough to take him in to try to adopt him. Teca Tu is kind enough to take a cat or two at a time into the shop to showcase the cat for adoption. Peepers was born in 2003 but has a lot life in him. His shots are up to date.

If you are interested in adopting Peepers, please call Randa at Felines & Friends at 505-466-3839. Peepers deserves a happy holiday and a happy ending just like Heidi.

There are hundreds of other beautiful and talented cats and dogs in your community waiting to meet you, just  like Georgia the Dog and Harry the Cat were waiting for me, who deserve a happy ending, too. They are the gifts that keep on giving.

Please give it a thought.