Category Archives: podcast

Dharma Podcast: Get out of the way

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Fiona writes: Kaspa & I are Buddhists, of the Pureland variety. We have a separate blog here, but today I thought I’d bring two usually-separate-parts-of-my-life together and post my Dharma talk here as well as over there.

We have a weekly meeting with our lovely local sangha, and usually Kaspa is celebrant (he leads the service). This involves making water offerings, leading walking and sitting meditation and chanting, and lots of bowing. There are lots of things to ‘get right’ (although it’s not as complicated as being bell-master, which Caroline did beautifully last night). I’m still very much a learner.

Last night I decided I’d be celebrant a few minutes before the service started. My talk was about how it feels to go out of your comfort zone, and how often our egos get in the way.

A ‘wagesa’ (the thing I forgot to bring to the service) is a strip of coloured material we wear around our necks, as a ‘membership badge’ like a dog collar – the translation of the Japanese is ‘small robe’. Namo Amida Bu is what Pureland Buddhists call the ‘nembutsu’ – a simple calling out to/remembrance of/praise of Amida Buddha. You can learn more if you’re interested here.

After the service, Kaspa told me I’d got everything right, apart from the terrible faux pas of walking down the centre of the material in front of the shrine. This is reserved for EMPERORS ONLY. Talk about giving myself a promotion…

Namo Amida Bu.

Podcast: Judging Art (& Fiona loses her temper)

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Fiona writes: Today I lost my temper at Roshi for climbing up the curtains.

We also explored the paradox of wanting to encourage people to write whatever they want to write, and having a (in my case, overly stern) critical eye. How can things be perfect as they are, and in need of a little improvement?

The online magazine we mentioned in the podcast was qarrtsiluni.

If you listen, do let us know what you think of the themes we covered today.

Also do let us know if you think these podcasts are become more and more chaotic. I fear they are. And I can’t quite work out if this is a good thing or not. : )

Podcast: Show don’t tell (& Roshi kitten makes his first podcast appearance)

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Fiona writes: Today we talked about why it’s so important when we write that we can show and not tell.

The conversation took some diversions (as, to be honest, it sometimes does) into Kaspa’s funky hat, drama, Buddhist theory of self & (of course) kittens.

The article written by a science fiction writer that Kaspa mentioned is Robert J. Sawyer’s Show Don’t Tell.

There is also a very special guest appearance from our kitten Roshi.

Finally if you’d like to completely overdose on kitten you can see all our photos here and click on the play button below for a very special treat…. ; ) If you listen, do let us know.

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Podcast: Why are we doing this? (and kitten photos)

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Kaspa writes: This weeks conversation is sparked off by Fiona asking what it is we are offering with these podcasts, and what is good to offer…

We quickly start talking about what makes anything interesting to listen to, content, personality, freshness… Just what it is that draws our attention?

We mention two other podcasts in our talk today. Fiona did a couple of shows for SheWrites (listen online here), a a few months ago we were recorded in conversation for Dave Bonta’s Woodrat podcast.

Sunday evening we collected our two new kittens, Tsuki and Roshi. We’ve created an album of photos on the WOWH Facebook page: our new kittens.

Podcast: There certainly are wobbles

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Fiona writes: This morning, we spoke about the kinds of things that are difficult to talk about.

The kind of thing that poetry attempts. What are we, as people? Where do our personalities come from? Is there such a thing as a ‘real me’ or a me at all?

We also spoke about the terrible raw risk of being alive as opposed to ossified, and what happens when we push our aliveness up against other people’s aliveness (ouch). Mark Waldron speaks about this in his poem, ‘Well yes, where we interface’, which Kaspa reads at the beginning of our podcast, and which you can also hear Mark reading here. Do buy Mark’s latest collection, The Itchy Sea (Amazon UK/Amazon US) – it really is splendid.

Thank you for listening. Do let us know if we made a teensy bit of sense. I’m not so sure today. (oh, and I started a new radio show for She Writes last night called Breathing Space – I spoke about ‘writing towards joy’ yesterday, and I had an actual caller! Listen here…)


Well yes, where we interface

there certainly are wobbles – the fit not being perfect. 
This strangeness comes from there,
partly from the shock of finding it forced on us, 
and partly from finding it’s not as natural to us
as death is. 
Yes, where we press up upon living
there certainly are jolts, 
so that we might seem to stick for a moment
and then jump lurchingly 
as continental plates do, catastrophically sometimes,
and when you meet someone, in the street perhaps, 
even someone you know, whole large chunks of them
might be torn away by this effect 
and roll to the side of the road
and you’ll be shouting at them somewhere 
in an absolutely murdered voice, and them at you.
Mark Waldron

PS I’ll be in Ty Newydd in Wales for Mark Charlton & Rory MacClean’s LANDSCAPE, TRAVEL AND MEMOIR – FROM BLOGS TO BOOKS (October 24th – 29th), and places are now available on the week-long course for £250 – a huge bargain. To find out more click here.

Podcast: Autumn wistfulness

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Fiona writes: We speak up for the merits of wistfulness this week, and ponder over Basho’s directive (below).

I also mention kittens, as there are only two weeks until our pair arrive…

What are your thoughts about Autumn? Your experiences?

Do share in the comments, and thank you for listening.


An autumn night
don’t think your life
didn’t matter.



Autumn Day

Translated by Galway Kinnell and Hannah Liebmann

Lord: it is time. The summer was immense.
Lay your shadow on the sundials
and let loose the wind in the fields.

Bid the last fruits to be full;
give them another two more southerly days,
press them to ripeness, and chase
the last sweetness into the heavy wine.

Whoever has no house now will not build one anymore.
Whoever is alone now will remain so for a long time,
will stay up, read, write long letters,
and wander the avenues, up and down,
restlessly, while the leaves are blowing.

Rainer Maria Rilke

Podcast: What do people want?

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Fiona writes: We got really lost in the middle of this podcast. But then we found our way again. Fatty also contributed by fighting Kaspa’s bag, and by prompting me to think about animal instincts.

The whole podcast is a response to an invitation from Elizabeth Howard over at Letters from a Small State. She was inspired to think about the question “What Does America Want?” by ‘the riots in London, her thoughts about the economic downturn and its impact on the Western psyche’.

She asked us, “What do people want?”, and we’ve responded in a Fiona-and-Kaspa way.

Thank you for the invitation, Elizabeth. Her series continues through September. Do visit her lovely blog and submit your own work. And if anyone else has anything they’d like us to talk about, suggestions are welcome!

Click here if you’d like to subscribe to the RSS for all our podcasts. Thank you for listening.

Podcast: Divine inspiration

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We hadn’t the foggiest what to talk about this morning. We were fresh out of inspiration. And so we talked about inspiration.

The conversation (and this week we were accompanied by Fatty who contributed by sleeping on my lap) includes walruses, my novel The Letters & how we can find inspiration when it’s deserted us.

If anyone is interested in following up any one of the millions of references Kaspa makes during the podcast, do leave a comment & he’ll get back to you! Here’s Mr John Cleese talking about creativity. And here’s Elizabeth Gilbert’s talk (which you might not like if you don’t go for any of that divine inspiration stuff). 

Click here if you’d like to subscribe to the RSS for all our podcasts.

Thank you for listening, and
 do tell us about your experiences of inspiration in the com

Podcast: Finding fundamental security in an insecure world

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This week’s conversation ranges over what we can do when we’re afraid and uncomfortable, whether Fatty will jump up onto Kaspa’s lap or not, where we can find a fundamental security, and Kaspa crying in coffee shops.

It also includes the following quotes from Ezra Bayda’s book, ‘Saying Yes To Life’. Deep gratitude to Bayda for his ongoing inspiration (especially from Fiona).

“You’ll never be free from discomfort and fear – yet liberation comes from not needing to be free from them.

Ultimately we need to understand that spiritual life isn’t about being safe, secure or comfortable. It’s not that we won’t sometimes feel secure in the course of our spiritual practice; we surely will. And so too will we sometimes feel insecure. Yet there is a fundamental security that develops from many years of practice – though it is a far cry from the immediate comfort we may now crave.”

Click here if you’d like to subscribe to the RSS for our podcasts.

Thank you for listening, and do let us know what you think in the comments.

Podcast: Sowing good seeds

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Fiona writes: This morning Kaspa & I talked about sowing good seeds, and how patient we need to be when we’re wondering if they’ve sprouted or not. We refer to the talk Kaspa gave at the weekend on how to live a meaningful life.

We use the f-word a few times (I’ll say more about that tomorrow) (it’s not the f-word you’re thinking of).

I also read out this quote:

“Any ordinary favor we do for someone or any compassionate reaching out may seem to be going nowhere at first, but may be planting a seed we can’t see right now. Sometimes we need to just do the best we can and then trust in an unfolding we can’t design or ordain.”
Sharon Salzberg

Click here if you’d like to subscribe to the RSS for our podcasts.

Thank you for listening.