Sunday, July 14, 2013

Yes, it has been summer vacation for me since June 7th, but having cleared a good number of tasks/duties/goals off of my list, I get to start over again!  Next stretch of freedom starts now, and I am so grateful!

So grateful that....

1. I get another re-boot for life, wide open space for reading, visiting, walking....
2. I offered a sweet writing circle for 10 women in Stockholm, WI yesterday - very nice.
3. Kathleen has settled into the house and we are enjoying our new set up!
4. I just finished my 7th book of the summer, and I loved it.  "The Interestings!"and I will start my next summer read, "The Yogahlossee Riding Camp for Girls" tonight.
5. I got to see my best (Baltimore!) friend, Rick 2 times in the last month -- the best.

Bonus smile....

The poem I wrote while in the writing circle yesterday....
Prompt = Write about something beautiful that happened to you this week....
Here's what happened in my notebook.....

I will be 47 next week
and weirdly, (or even sadly, I suppose)
I just learned to identify some very basic but beautiful things -
the birdsongs of the robin, black capped chickadee and the cardinal.  

Who knew my backyard was hiding 
such secrets
and for so long?

It's so clear now, so simple really, 
but since learning,
their calls stop me in my tracks and
the proud wide smile 
of a child's knowing something new 
has settled on my face.

I wonder what's in store for me next year?

Friday, July 5, 2013

Being Happy With What Is & With What I Have

Moving slowly this morning, and getting ready for the day.

Feeling grateful...

1. That I will see my best friend Rick in a few minutes, as he stops at my house to get a key, and then, makes his way up north to our lake house heaven.

2.  That I have such a clarity in my "to do" list!  (so much I need/want to do before returning to work August 19th) -- now, just to get myself to DO IT!

3.  That I get to go to my favorite movie movie theater today (the Uptown!) with Kathleen to see 20 Feet from seats EVER and I think the movie will be good too!

4.  That it is the weekend later today, and I will get to have a leisurely time with my girl, who has been working like a dog!

5.  That my back seems to be continually improving....and for noticing that I am staying focussed (trying) on what doesn't hurt, instead of what does!  (the image at the beginning of the blog is what I am trying to remember today, and the image at the end of this blog is what I wish for)

It's all good!

Bonus smile...

I just love the idea of being physically care-free to run and jump into the lake!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Gratitude Times Two

There is So Much to be grateful for....

I missed yesterday's post for a great reason!
So here's what's up!

I am grateful for...

1.  The sale and moving process all going so well, without a hitch. It was a busy day getting Kathleen's home sale closed and settling into Jefferson Avenue!

2.  A GORGEOUS stretch of Minnesota summer weather.   YES!

3.  The chance to sleep in later that a usual work-day morning (when my back is sore and my sleep routine continues to be out of whack and I don't sleep well in the night!) - Tony Robbins would ask, "what's great about this problem?" - such a good question, a way to stop thinking about the problem, and focus on the positive outcomes and solutions.

4.  A developing opportunity to volunteer soon....more to come on this!

5.  Two upcoming opportunities to publish some writing about my work with writing circles.  (The drafts are on my desk, but hopefully they will be complete and sent on their way by August 1st!)

Bonus smile...

Sunday, June 30, 2013

The main thing I am grateful for today?....

#1.  Kathleen (& Mr. B!) moved in and our life together in the 55105 zip code begins!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

I Could Dance All Day!

I am grateful today......why?

1.  Well, for starters, today is the day.....Move In Day is here.....I am starting a new life with my girl.  Time to share my house again.  Yes!  The house of Joy!

2.  I am grateful that I saw this post today on facebook...Thanks, Pam!
This video made me laugh and cry - you have to watch it! --

3.  After a few weeks of summer vacation solitude and re-grouping, I have had a chance to reconnect with several friends this week...leisurely conversations on the patio, phone, porch.....more to come this week!  Feel lucky to be connected to such good people.

4.  My fruit bowl was FANTASTIC today -- (simple pleasures, every day!)

5.  Although I haven't been to Gay Pride since 1999, I am grateful to being living a life outloud, proud, everyday....myself.

In honor of gay pride weekend.....a Bonus smile...

Friday, June 28, 2013

Summer Daze

This looks like my kind of summer daze!
(Thanks, Grit, for posting this pic on facebook!)

Today, I am grateful for...

1. life being on my slow-paced and quiet schedule, not work's!
2. being able to sleep in (still trying to get a good sleep routine in order!)
3. spending the day today with my friend Tess, passing the LAB torch onto her!
4. only one more night, and I will be sharing my house with Kathleen!
5. the wind is blowing through the house and the air conditioners are off!

Enjoy this bonus smile....what does summer mean to you?

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Giving Thanks, again.

First things first....

Today I will take my first trip to one of my favorite of the city lakes of this summer...

1.  So I am grateful for this perfect lake day. Very little wind. No clouds. Low humidity. A perfect day to float free on Lake Nokomis.

2.  Grateful for my funny little bathtub kayak that fits easily into my Honda CRV.

3.  Grateful having very few "chores" to do right now -- just a sea of open time.

4.  DOMA was struck down.  MN gay Marriage. Prop 8 put in its place.  Wow.

5.  My property tax paperwork came in the mail yesterday...reminding me of impending $$ in the fall!  (i forgot all about it!)

Off to the lake now.....but this if you want to smile.

Bonus smile....


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Gratitude Changes Me

Gratitude changes everything, indeed....
my mind, my heart, my view, my

Grateful today for...

1.  My low back isn't as sore today as it was yesterday!
2.  Georgia joining me for breakfast today : )
3.  The leisure time to begin reading my 6th novel of the summer!
4.  For my house, and having it ready to share it with Kathleen
5.  The cardinal that kept me company most of all day yesterday, singing non-stop in the trees above my patio.

basically, I am grateful for summers off, away from work.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A Shift Toward Gratitude

Day 2, working on shifting my focus toward all-things-grateful. 

Gratitude Today?  

I am so grateful for....

1. the good night's sleep I had last night, and for finally getting into a better sleep pattern.

2.  my friends who are joining me this week for a visit and a meal/ice tea on my sweet summer patio.

3.   my sweet patio & sweet porch!  I feel lucky and I love that I have such a nice patio and beautiful environments to enjoy.

4.  Brent, my personal trainer/physical therapist who is helping me regain my strength and get past physical pain - and that I have clarity and options for exercises that help!

5.  The sunshine today, after many clouds and storms and great weather and a chance for a river walk today!

And a bonus smile for my day...

Monday, June 24, 2013

Gratitude Blog - it begins today

Today's Gratitude Blog: 

1. the sea of free time ahead of me - (I return to work exactly 8 weeks from today) - and that I have already had a marvelous 2+ weeks away from work.  So lucky.

2.  for an amazing girlfriend who is soon to move into my house!

3.  for improvement (albeit slow) with my physical body/pain.....progress and knowledge for how to keep getting better!

4.  a chance to read for pleasure -- 5 books down for this summer!  Shooting for 31!

5.  that I was lucky and didn't have any storm damage or power outage -- again, lucky!

and a bonus thing to be grateful for.....
the sweetest video post on facebook which makes me completely happy in this moment!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Connection & Support

Connection:  1. To hold in position so as to keep from falling, sinking, or slipping; 2. the act or state of connecting; united;  3something that connects, joins, or relates; link or bond;  4. a relationship or association;  5. logical sequence in thought or expression; coherence

Support: 1. to carry the weight of; 2. to bear or withstand (pressure, weight, etc.);  3. to provide the necessities of life for a person; 4.  to establish a theory by providing new facts; to substantiate

5.  to give aid or courage to; 6. to give approval to; 8. to give strength to.

I love this image -  a flower, clearly linked and connected to something(s), ready to remind her of her place in the world.  That we exist inside something very beautiful, even when we forget. This photo is a metaphor, a reminder for me that someone is always ready to stand near, ready to help, ready to ensure that we don't sink, or slip or fall.  Today, I am grateful for this reminder and reality. I'm listening to a song by Alexi Murdoch right now - another beautiful message of connection and support - enjoy. 

Friday, March 18, 2011


Center1. A point or place that is equally distant from the sides or outer boundaries of something; the middle:  2. A point equidistant from all points on the circumference of a circle or on the surface of a sphere; 3. A point around which something rotates or revolves:  4. A part of an object that is surrounded by the rest; a core: 5. a. A place where a particular activity or service is concentrated:  b. A point of origin, as of influence, ideas, or actions.  6.  To place in or at the center; To direct toward a center or central point; concentrate or focus

My attention goes directly to the center of this flower -- the beauty of the orange and the intricacies and textures of the center. 

I have certainly used this word before in my blog -- Center -- I am on the front end of a 9 day vacation, and want to make some good choices about how I spend this glorious time away from work.  I don't want to waste a minute of such freedom. I want to return to my center, my balance. I do have some work to do, and I want to schedule and commit to my health/exercise life while I have such a beautifully open calendar.  It should certainly be easier to make space for this while on vacation, right?  With hopes to soak up this week in all good ways, I will hold this image, this flower in my mind's eye, and let its bright, clear center be my guide. I'll let the definition "A point of origin, as of influence, ideas, or actions." be my guide and my reminder that I can act and choose in ways that will create the perfect vacation week.  Onward.  

Monday, March 14, 2011

Floating Above

Floating (floating above)   1. a. To remain suspended within or on the surface of a fluid without sinking.  b. To be suspended in or move through space as if supported by a liquid.  2. To move from place to place, especially at random.  3. To move easily or lightly.

Again, through the simple tools of Iphoto, I was able to make this flower look like it is floating or suspended in mid-air, against the black backdrop.  Easy.  All the other extraneous business fades into the back background, and the all important beauty of the flower remains front and center. 

I wish there was a simple tool I could employ in my life, to float above..... to float above the extraneous, above the bull shit (that others, and I create), the ridiculous concerns conjured up in my mind.  I want to  keep the important things in life - the beauty - at the forefront, suspended against the dark background of the rest. 

Somehow, it is not as easy as it is in Iphoto.  But, of course, there are tools at my disposal, if I could only remember to use them.  Loving kindness, mantras, my breath, music, poetry, writing in a journal, making a mandala -- focussing on the magic of color, paying attention to the metaphors called up in this life's journey.  This week, there is much to rise above. Every day, there many things of beauty that I could appreciate, attend to, create.  Onward.

Saturday, March 12, 2011


I think it's time to return to the mandala-a-day project.  It's been a while since I've sat long enough in my creativity to really settle my insides.  I've been marching along with a focus on my work-mind/life, while trying to hold my emotions at a relative distance (except for those times when I simply can't, and the flood gates open full force).  

I like this photo, altered with simple tools in I-photo.  I see the intensity of yellow against the stark pitch of black, and the other colors determined to find a tiny space to shine though.  It is just like my emotions in these last few months -- no matter how hard I try to press them into the background, they always find their way forth, sometimes in small ways, and often with an intensity that forces me to stop, to accept.  When I allow this process to simply be and when I stop fighting myself, some sort of beauty and clarity emerge.  Onward.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Mandala 99: Float

Float: 1. a.To remain suspended within or on the surface of a fluid without sinking. b.To be suspended in or move through space as if supported by a liquid. 2. o move from place to place, especially at random; 3. To move easily or lightly.

With a few days away from work, I will try to float and enjoy fewer responsibilities, get myself to yoga and remind my body and my mind how to move more easily and lightly through my days. 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Mandala 98: Skilled

Skilled: Possessing or demonstrating accomplishment, skill, or special training.

It never ceases to amaze me how much and how often I am called upon to handle a situation with some special skill, usually some interpersonal skill.  Easier, to blow a gasket, tell someone off, storm off, shake my head in dis-belief or disgust.  Harder to show up steady, strong, solid and clear, setting out the needed limits and reasonable parameters with a grace and kindness.  Life is hard.  Skills help.  Onward. 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Mandala 97: Hope

Hope:  1. To wish for something or look forward with expectation of its fulfillment. 2. To have confidence; trust.  3. To expect, to desire

I have heard it said that "hope is not a strategy" -- but still, I have it.   It seems essential in order to keep moving forward.  

Monday, October 18, 2010

Mandala 96: Sober

Sober:  1. Habitually abstemious in the use of alcoholic liquors or drugs; temperate; 2Not intoxicated or affected by the use of drugs; 3. Plain or subdued; 4. Devoid of frivolity, excess, exaggeration, or speculative imagination; straightforward:  5. Marked by seriousness, gravity, or solemnity of conduct or character; 6. Marked by circumspection and self-restraint.

Today is my 6th anniversary of quitting drinking.  Sober.  A healthy choice, for sure.  Not always easy, but right for me.  

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Mandala 95: Middle

Middle:  1. Equally distant from extremes or limits; 2. Being at neither one extreme nor the other; 3. The middle part of the human body; the waist.

I am up north at our lake home on Middle Cullen Lake.  It has been a great weekend, and will be hard to go home.  I have enjoyed a slower pace for these last 2 days, both inside/in my mind, and outside, with nothing to do but to play.  I have found the middle in my emotions and it has been a relief.

It seems for this last month, I have lived on the edges, the extremes, emotionally, and have had a hard time standing in the middle of anything.  As my partner Marilou walks the tightrope of fear regarding the lump in her breast and over all health issues, and as we both navigate the challenges inherent in the journey of intimate relationships, I haven't been able to find the middle.   I have walked in these last 2 months with back pain, an indication of living, in my mind and my emotions, in the extremes.  No middle.

I spent the day yesterday with my friend Shawyn, learning and experimenting with photography. Shawyn is an amazing photographer, and encouraged me to play in this medium. Just a point and shoot Cannon Power Shot.  Just a chance to walk around the property, near the lake, noticing things.  Capturing images and items and structures that caught my eye.  Noticing various ways to frame the shot.  Last evening, I played around with my photos using I-photo and photoshop, enhancing color, cropping and and refining and reframing what I captured in my camera.  I enjoyed being lost in the meditative nature of walking and noticing and taking pictures.  I felt a sense of relief in the process of creativity, both in the taking and in the adjusting the photographs.  This of course, is no surprise.  It is my mantra to students and to my team at The Lab, that creativity is the healing force that we can each access on our journeys.  So my weekend on Middle Cullen Lake brought me back to the middle, and I am grateful.  Now, the challenge is to remain steady, in the middle as I return to the real life off and away from the lake.  Onward.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Day 94: Bike-Tire Mandala

Bike Tire Mandala:

I have been away from my mandala-making again....too much summer fun to be had, so I have become a bit negligent to this project.  I have been out biking, enjoying my new bike (see picture below).  Very fun.  Happy spinning!

My goal is to make it to my 100th mandala by Thursday, July 23rd.  It seems an honorable number.  Now, if I can only get off of my bike for long enough each day to make some mandalas!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Day 93: Playful

Playful: 1. Full of fun and high spirits; frolicsome or sportive; 2. Humorous; jesting.

Today, I woke feeling tired and sore from my workout yesterday, but also feeling "light" in my mood.  Although I have to begin my day with a couple of hours of going to work, the rest of my day will be spent playing.  I might take myself for a walk around one of the city lakes or going to shop for a new bicycle. I'm sure I'll spend a good chunk of time reading my new novel on the patio. I love the leisurely nature of summer. The choice to be playful is  a more ready choice for me in the summer.  This mandala looks playful to me.  It will be my reminder to keep a playful view each day.  I wonder how I can bring a more 'playful' plan to my school year?  Onward.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Day 92: Asymmetry

Asymmetry: 1. Lack of balance; 2.  Absense of symmetry in spatial arrangement or in logical relations

Life is like this, for sure, although try as I might to make it logical and symmetrical.  Even when much of my life seems to be operating or set in symmetry, there is usually at least one aspect of my life that is not.  I began this mandala in sets of three, but in short order, my pattern got confused.  Soon it became a less clear pattern and sets of four.  Not what I intended, but I like it, non the less. Onward.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Day 91: Mosaic

Mosaic:  1. a. A picture or decorative design made by setting small colored pieces, as of stone or tile, into a surface. b. The process or art of making such pictures or designs. 2. A composite picture made of overlapping, usually aerial, photographs. 3. Something that resembles a mosaic.

If I can think of life as a mosaic, "the process/art of making designs" or the overlapping pictures/experiences that make up this life, this design, I will be in good shape.  Too often, I am missing the bigger picture and get caught up in the small pieces, the little things.  If I can remember that each of these small things is intended to create a bigger picture, an important design, daily life can be an exciting artistic process instead of a process filled with fear or tedious moments.  Onward.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Day 90: Wood

Wood:  a. The secondary xylem of trees and shrubs, lying beneath the bark and consisting largely of cellulose and lignin;  b. This tissue, often cut and dried especially for use as building material and fuel.

Last night, I dreamed I was drilling a hole in a piece of wood, makng something - I don't know what

I looked up what this might mean in the world of dream interpretation and I like what I found. This interpretation seemingly confirms that I am working hard to creatively shape the course of my own life. I like, too, that there is a spiritual element to this dream/gesture as well.

Dream Interpretation/dreaming of wood: To dream that you are carving or shaping a piece of wood, indicates a power-giving act or creative gesture. You are molding or shaping the course of your own life. Alternatively, the wood may also symbolize spirituality and vital energy.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Day 89: Become

To Become: 1. To grow or come to be; 2. To be appropriate or suitable to; 3. To be the fate of.

I like this symbol because the one segment of it (with the "t" shape) looks like a person in motion to me.  This "person" also looks supported by some other being (to its left).  

I will look to this mandala as my reminder that i don't have to be in this game of "becoming", alone.  I have support from many key people in my life.  I can reach out, just as I can reach within, as I walk in this life, becoming, and living into my fate.  Onward.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Day 88: Strength-Power

Strength: 1. The state, property, or quality of being strong. 2. The power to resist strain or stress; durability.3. The ability to maintain a moral or intellectual position firmly. 4Capacity or potential for effective action 5. A source of power or force.

Power1. The ability or capacity to perform or act effectively; 2. A specific capacity, faculty, or aptitude; 3. Strength or force exerted or capable of being exerted; might. 4. The ability or official capacity to exercise control; authority. 5. A person, group, or nation having great influence; 6. Forcefulness; effectiveness

As I head home from my 10 day lake vacation, I go ready to tackle a few things, both personal and professional.  I hope that I can proceed with a wise strength and power to act effectively.  I have set some important goals, and will need the strength of my will -- my decision -- to succeed.  Onward. 

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Day 87: Change

Change: . 1. To become different or undergo alteration: 2. To undergo transformation or transition: 3. To go from one phase to another, as the moon or the seasons. 4. To make an exchange: 5. To transfer from one conveyance to another: 6. To become deeper in tone.

This symbol is the most complex of all of the Chinese symbols I have chosen to include in my mandala project, (it was hard to trace) and it is a perfect metaphor or image for how hard it is to change -- to change habits, to change behavior, to change our minds - to change - even when we really want to, even when we are really motivated.  Change is hard. 

I love the definition of number 3 above -- to go from one phase to another, as the moon or the seasons -- this definition and this mandala helps me to welcome change and all of the opportunities it brings, just like each new season.  Onward. 

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Day 86: Water

Water: 1. A body of water such as a sea, lake, river, or stream. 2. A clear, colorless, odorless, and tasteless liquid, H2O, essential for most plant and animal life

Water Dream InterpreationWater is a symbol of energy, cleansing, emotional stirrings. The condition of the water tells whether your emotional state is positive or negative. Dreaming of clear water foretells good luck at work and in your private life.

After a great day out on the water of Middle Cullen Lake, and after more than a week of thinking, journaling, reading and sitting with some emotional and spiritual questions, I am not surprised I had a dream last night about water. A funny dream, where I was reaching into my refrigerator in the lowest crisper drawer to reach for chocolate, which was floating in clear water. I was gathering up all of the pieces of dark chocolate with almond (mmmm good), and i was getting ready to take them with me to a work meeting.  I have known that water dreams are about our emotions.  I like the interpretation of dreaming about clear water -- that it is a foreshadowing of good luck in work and in my personal life.  I believe it is worth it to do the emotional/spiritual work to clear each season, allowing us to move forward to the next.  Onward.  (and out to the kayaks!)  

*  by the way, dream interpretation about chocolate is as follows:  Any dream that features chocolate in it is a simple omen that presages, not luxury, or impeccable taste, as one might expect, but, rather, Good health and contentment, coupled with a pampered lifestyle.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Day 85: Will-Determination-Purpose

Will:  1a. The mental faculty by which one deliberately chooses or decides upon a course of action; 1b. The act of exercising the will; 2a. Diligent purposefulness; 2b. Self-control; self-discipline; 3. Desire, purpose, determination, especially of one in authority: 4. Deliberate intention; 5. Free discretion; inclination or pleasure; 6. Bearing or attitude toward others; disposition.

Determination:  1. a. The act of making or arriving at a decision; 1b. The decision reached. 2. a. Firmness of purpose; resolve; 2b. A fixed intention or resolution.

Purpose: 1. The object toward which one strives or for which something exists; an aim or a goal: 2. A result that is intended or desired; an intention; 3. resolution; 4. The matter at hand; the point at issue; 5. To intend or resolve to perform or accomplish.

I love my time at Wilderness Resort, and basically, I just love my summer.  It is my time especially, to take stock, re-group, set new goals and take action.  Last summer, this came in the form of listening to Tony Robbins daily and utilizing all I learned to tackle my physical/fitness health.  One year later, I feel so great that I achieved what I set out to do last summer.  I have become a person who exercises regularly and one who is more fit than ever before.  

This week, I am re-visiting my Tony Robbins cds on personal power and setting new goals.  This week, my goals are about my finances and about my work.  Who do I want to be in each of these arenas?  What are my new mantras that will help shape and guide my daily actions?  What is my purpose and hoped for outcome in each area? Last year, my mantra became, "I take care of my body, mind and spirit in every season, summer, fall, winter and spring".  Every action I took supported my mantra.  My mantra supported each action.  Now, I'm generating a new mantra around money and around my work.  This is all about making a decision.  I am in the process of making these decisions in these 2 key areas.  It is exciting to think about how I will feel one year from now, having achieved what I am setting out to achieve.  This year, it is a great feeling to have achieved my purpose around fitness, one year later.  Onward.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Day 84: Action

Action: 1. The state or process of acting or doing2. Something done or accomplished; a deed; 3. Organized activity to accomplish an objective:  4. The causation of change by the exertion of power; 5. A movement or a series of movements; 6. Habitual or vigorous activity; energy: 7. Behavior or conduct.

I love the definition in number six above - (Habitual or vigorous activity, energy).  Habits are usually associated with bad habits.  In this case, I love the notion of productive habits that give us energy.  I have returned to my Tony Robbins Personal Power CDs. Last summer, I invested in these CDs and it totally changed my life, specifically in the realm of health and fitness.  I had seen Tony in late night info-mercials for many years.  This time,  I took a chance.  I bought them and I listened to the whole series over the course of my first 30 days of summer vacation.  Every day I had a routine.  Breakfast.  Tony Robbins cd and note taking.  Journaling.  Homework and studying for my 6 summer home-study credits.  Workout.  Lunch.  Shower.  And sometimes, some afternoons I would have some social time.  Mostly, however, I was a quite a hermit, and enjoyed every minute of my private summer retreat.  I made a schedule.  I decided on what things I wanted to grow, change, focus.  I took action.  In the last year for the first time in my adult life, I have maintained consistent exercise at least 4 times per week.  I lost 15 pounds.  I feel better physically than I ever have.

It is summer again.  My renewal period.  I am listening again, to my Tony Robbins CDs.  I am setting my summer schedule again.  Deciding my focus.  Taking action. What I blessing I have to take most of 3 months off of work, to re-group, re-consider all that really matters in this life.  Health, for sure, both physical and emotional.  Deepening and appreciating my relationship with Marilou and my close friends.  Deepening my spiritual connections with a higher being through my mandala project.

I really appreciate Tony's simple view and approach to change-making.  Get clear about what you want.  Decide to go for it.  Take action.  For me, it is in the deciding.  I have decided.  A routine and schedule helps me.  Tony Robbins coaching system and style helps me.  Mandalas help me.  Decision and action = relief for me.  Spinning around in the "waiting til tomorrow" land is torture.  The time is now.  Onward.