I was born running…

A couple weeks ago I posted an audio version of poem I wrote called “Abide”. Someone of you seemed to like it. I really enjoy spoken word poetry and listening to poetry readings, so I thought I’d try another. Hope you like it!

I dig my heels deep and hard into the pulse and pace of a pulmonary valve bursting wide
I was born with the restless heart rate of a runner
I was born running
This pavement hears my pleas
It bears the full weight of all my angst and agony without relenting
It reaches up and pulls me into peace
An embrace as solid as the concrete that calls me home to someplace unknown
I was born running
I dig my heels hard and deep into the pulse that runs in search of poetry and my pace quickens into a prayer

If you enjoyed poem and/or the podcast, consider supporting my work by Buying me a coffee or by becoming a Patron.

A crooked hopefulness…

I can be a lot. Perhaps, I crave a kind of simple living because I’ve subconsciously convinced myself that if I can just minimize the things I possess then maybe I can minimize the things that possess me. Yet, I’ve found that no matter how bare my cupboard is made to be, internally I’m still a cluster-fuck of complexity and disarray that not even Marie Kondo can tidy up and clear away. 


I harbor a quiet intensity. I can have an overwhelmingly large and looming energy. It be more than some can handle, and more than most would want to. I can be isolated, solemn, severe, distant, and closed-off. I’m slow to warm and difficult to connect with. I’m ferociously passionate in my involvement with the things I care about, and I throw myself fully and fervently into them. And in most of my relationships I have either been too much or not enough.


I’m brutally aware of my foibles and I continue to do the work of trying to smooth-out, or at least dull-down, the serrated edges of myself. Yes, I can be better. Yes, I can do better. But, my efforts to improve will also require a degree of acceptance. There are parts of myself in need of repair, but some of these places of damage and discontent are also places of depth and divinity. There are shattered places in who I am that, in the light of awareness and acceptance, are also the consecrated ground of hallowed shrines. In these places the shards of past failures become holy objects, the remnants of who I have been are sacred relics. As Cheryl Strayed explains, this is “the temple I built in my obliterated place.”


The solemnity of my cold and quiet distance may create the appearance of someone disassociative, but come closer and you’ll discover that this analytical silence provides me with a keen ability to listen, closely and deeply. My brokenness may mean that my heart is cracked , but that also means that is is wide and ever-open. The weight of my concern is heavy and burdensome indeed, but within the burden is the breadth and depth of an expanding empathy. The pitch of the black that envelops me is uncomfortable and consuming. There are few who are willing to peer into the darkness with an un-averted gaze. Many recoil from the mystery and ambiguity of the dark, but, as John O’ Donohue says, “There is an inner depth and texture to the darkness that we never notice until we have to negotiate the absence of light.” O’ Donohue writes that “Something within us knows the darkness more deeply than it knows the light.” I’m beginning to understand that my darkness is not a curse. The black bile coursing through my veins is neither a disease, nor a sickness requiring a cure, it is my greatest strength. this darkness is my gift, my gift to the world.


For some, and in some ways, I will always be too much. For other people, and in other places, i will simply never be enough. This kind of acceptance takes time. It requires frailty and fragility. I take deep breaths that test the capacity of my lungs. I breathe out long and hard, making a wish that the sheer force of the exhalation will blow out the candles of my burning worries and fears. This kind of acceptance is often awkward and clumsy, but it helps me to connect with what Neil Gaiman might call a “crooked hopefulness, a “crooked hopefulness” that knows that the crooked place in me naturally bend toward mercy and compassion.

New Podcast Episode – “The Waiting Hours”

The waiting hours speak. They always speak, but they speak slowly and harder than any other because they have something to say, something to teach, something to impart. It just takes a long time to say it. And so we wait…

If you’d like to read the transcript of this episode you can find it here.

If you got any value out of this episode, consider supporting my work by buying me a coffee.

Shout out to my Patrons and supporters:

Jim Martin – https://theunusualbuddha.com/

Tarrah Schmidt – https://www.facebook.com/RSMMeditation

Ben Bridges – https://www.myfpvstore.com/

Julianna Minotty – https://jewles.medium.com/

If you’d like to get shout-outs in podcasts, early access to ad free episodes, and see behind the scenes patron only content, then consider becoming a patron.

Keep showing up, keep doing the work, FAIL BOLDLY, and let’s make something meaningful.

In darkened interstices, there is trust…

“In art, the seeing or hearing that is dispersed and mixed in ordinary perceptions is concentrated until the peculiar office of the special medium operates with full energy, free from distraction.” – John Dewey


One of the things that we discussed in my recent interview on the Unusual Buddha podcast was that I rarely know what a piece means or what it is about when I’m in the process of making it. For me, the process of writing and making art is just that, a process; a process of observant listening. And even then there is mystery and ambiguity about precisely who or what I am listening to. 


Perhaps, I’m listening for something within myself, hoping to tap into some cavernous reservoir of language and meaning that I have yet to discover otherwise. Perhaps, I’m trying to give voice to the collection of unconscious thoughts and feelings that have never quite seen the dawn of my waking mind. Perhaps, I’m listening to the piece, itself. 


Perhaps, in the moments of making I am mothering a child struggling to convey what it wants to be. I must listen with patience and tender compassion, knowing that it is in my care, but it is not mine to keep. It is it’s destiny to leave, and it is my task to prepare it for the world.


Or, perhaps,  I’m the child and I am being parented by the piece. Perhaps, it is fostering the darkened interstices of my desirous fulfilment, and I must listen attentively to it’s instruction and guidance. This scenario feels right to me. So often my words have been aching to exit and yet, time and again, they have allusively evaded my grasp. It has been the work that has continued to guide me to my words. I have been in search of myself, in search of who I am, and who I still would like to be. Each work has taught me to see myself more clearly and has moved me incrementally closer to the me it believes I can become. I am in it’s care only for a time, before we must depart, and it is it’s mission to make me ready.


Whatever the case may be, the mystery always remains unresolved, and so there must always be trust.

New Podcast Episode – “Glimmers of Hope in the Kitchen…”

the possibility claimed meaning

Madeleine L’ Engle says that “An artist at work is in a condition of complete and total faith”  – a faith that some minute piece of the manifold mystery will become material for a moment. A faith that some small substance of the things hoped for will become manifest albeit in an ephemeral way. A faith that we will uncover the evidence of things unseen, the evidence of the possible, and that the possibility will claim meaning.

We are full of secrets. We contain a multitude of mysteries. We are breathing inkblots, walking Rorschach tests. Perhaps, its in experiencing the weight of our own untold secrets that we are driven to create and compelled to keep creating.

Maybe art, itself, is an external attempt to touch our deepest secrets, the secrets buried so deeply that we don’t even know that they’re there. And maybe, these are the secrets fighting the hardest to be unearthed.

We stand poised upon the precipice of a sacred unknowing. We don’t know what comes next for us as a culture, as a society, we don’t know what our civilization will become, but we know that there are glimmers of hope in the kitchen, and maybe that’s the secret sauce.

If You’re interested in pre-ordering “The Unusual Collections” mentioned in the show which contains a t-shirt, a Mala, a signed copy of Jim Martin’s book, The Practical Meditation Journal, and one of my Art Prints – click here: https://www.patreon.com/posts/special-offer-37125633

Shout out to my patrons:

Jim Martin – https://theunusualbuddha.com/

Ben Bridges – https://www.myfpvstore.com/

Rev. Jerry Maynard – https://www.facebook.com/thepplspriest

Julianna Minotty – https://www.instagram.com/wellinformedish/

Bob Clubbs

If you’d like to support the podcast and all my other creative work, consider becoming a Patron on Patreon.

If you’re interested in purchasing prints, feel free to message me on Social Media:

FaceBook – https://www.facebook.com/duanejtoops

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/duanetoops/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/duanetoops

New Podcast: “Fair Weather in the work…”

Maybe I’m just getting to that age where conversations about the weather is a thing that happens now. Maybe the weather is as good a metaphor for life as any other. Perhaps then every conversation about the weather is an implicit conversation about living and being alive. Perhaps what we really talk about when we talk about the weather is how we are handling the way life is at this moment right now…

If you want to look further into some of the writers and thinkers I mention, check the links below:

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

The Practical Meditation Journal by James Martin

Grace Eventually by Anne Lamott

Brilliant Ideas: Artist Grayson Perry 

If You’re interested in pre-ordering “The Unusual Collections” mentioned in the show which contains a t-shirt, a Mala, a signed copy of Jim Martin’s book, The Practical Meditation Journal, and one of my Art Prints – click here: https://www.patreon.com/posts/special-offer-37125633

Shout out to my patrons:

Jim Martin – https://theunusualbuddha.com/

Ben Bridges – https://www.myfpvstore.com/

Rev. Jerry Maynard – https://www.facebook.com/thepplspriest

Julianna Minotty

Bob Clubbs

If you’d like to support the podcast and all my other creative work, consider becoming a Patron on Patreon.

If you’re interested in purchasing prints, feel free to message me on Social Media:

FaceBook – https://www.facebook.com/duanejtoops

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/duanetoops/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/duanetoops

New Podcast – “Poetic Pyromania & Artistic Archaeology”

This episode is kind of a hodge podge of ideas and reflections. I talk about some recent art work I’ve done and some feedback I’ve got from that’s given me some food for thought. And so I thought I’d offer you some of these random thoughts on art, poetry, and everything in between. I hope you like it.

I reference a lot of books in this episode and quite a few artists. Here’s some relevant links if you want to delve deeper:

Art as Experience by John Dewey

The Sacredness of Questioning Everything by David Dark

Artist Liu Wei

Walking on Water by Madeleine L’ Engle

The Lotus and the Rose by Matthew Fox and Lama Tsomo

Artist John T. Unger

The Roman Empire and the New Testament by Warren Carter

If You’re interested in pre-ordering “The Unusual Collections” mentioned in the show which contains a t-shirt, a Mala, a signed copy of Jim Martin’s book, The Practical Meditation Journal, and one of my Art Prints – click here: https://www.patreon.com/posts/special-offer-37125633

Thanks to my Patrons and Supporters:

Jim Martin – https://theunusualbuddha.com/

Ben Bridges – https://www.myfpvstore.com/

Rev. Jerry Maynard – https://www.facebook.com/thepplspriest

Julianna Minotty

Bob Clubbs

If you’d like to support the work I’m doing, becoming a Patron is a great way to do that: https://www.patreon.com/duanetoops

And thanks to the incredible people who have recently purchased prints of my Art Work – Molly Graham, and Bill and Sallee Bonham.

If you’re interested in purchasing prints, feel free to message me on Social Media:

FaceBook – https://www.facebook.com/duanejtoops

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/duanetoops/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/duanetoops

New Podcast Episode – “Treasure in the Trash”

Welcome to Friday. Just a quick note to let you know that early this morning I dropped a brand new podcast episode.

In the previous episode we talked a bit about why I haven’t put out any new podcast episodes, videos, blogs, etc. for the past 6 months. In other words, we talked a lot about what I haven’t been doing. But, we didn’t talk about what I HAVE been doing, what I have been making and creating. So, this week I wanted to discuss what my work creative work is; a kind of return to my first creative loves – art and poetry. I talk about what that looks like, how it plays out, what it means for me, and what I’m learning from it.

Also, I mention an article I wrote for The Unusual Buddha, if you want to check it out you can find it here: https://theunusualbuddha.com/2020/05/07/defy-the-monster/

You can also find a previous article I wrote for The Unusual Buddha here: https://theunusualbuddha.com/2020/01/24/cold-coffee-as-communion/

If you’d like to support the podcast and all the other work I’m doing, consider becoming a patron: https://www.patreon.com/duanetoops

Special thanks to my Patrons and Supporters:

Jim Martin – https://theunusualbuddha.com/

Ben Bridges – https://www.myfpvstore.com/

Thanks for being here!

Keep showing up, Keep doing the work, FAIL BOLDLY and lets make something meaningful.

New Podcast Episode!

After an almost six month hiatus from releasing a podcast episode, I’m back. In this episode I talk a little bit about where I’ve been, what’s been going on, and why there hasn’t been any podcast episodes for the past SIX MONTHS. I share about some personal difficulties I’ve been having and some hardships I’m still reeling from and going through. I also get into why I decided to finally make another episode.

And, because I’m a book junkie I bring up a wonderful book I’ve been reading by John O’Donohue called Eternal Echoes .  A few passages reminded me of the last podcast episode I released called “The Insight of the Other” which was based on a blog post I wrote called “ I am Grateful for the Insight of the Other“.

Special thanks to my friends, patrons, and supporters:

Jim Martin: https://theunusualbuddha.com/

Charlie Maclean: https://taenofvessels.home.blog/

Rev. Jerry Maynard: https://www.facebook.com/jerry.m.maynard

Ben Bridges: https://www.myfpvstore.com/

If you’d like to become a patron and get access to behind-the-scenes patron only content: https://www.patreon.com/duanetoops

Thanks so much for being here!

Keep showing up, Keep doing the Work, and Let’s make something Meaningful.

New Podcast/Video – “The Insight of the Other”

Earlier this morning I put out the audio and the video of a New Podcast Episode.

Last month I wrote a blog called “I Am Grateful for the Insight of the Other“. In many ways that essay opened some creative flood gates. It’s been the catalyst to much of my recent creative work, so I thought it might be interesting to talk about it on the podcast.

Realizing that November is the “National Month of Gratitude” prompted me to take a hard look at myself and my propensity to be “ungrateful”. I began to think, what would it look like for me to be more intentionally grateful? What would happen if if I made it a point to purposefully practice gratitude? What would I find? What would I see?

One of the first things that I found myself incredibly grateful for are the countless conversations I’ve had with so many inspiring people; people who have brought me to insights I would have never arrived at on my own, people who taught me so much about myself and the world.

I remain presciently grateful for the insight of the Other…