Friday, December 31, 2010

Thank you, 2010


As I look back over the past year, I'm overwhelmed by everything I'm grateful for. I could probably spend hours working on this list, but I'll try to keep it short, to leave lots of room for enjoying this beautiful day.

Thank you for soulful visits with family

Thank you for the every day love, connection, and laughs with my dear husband

Thank you for an amazing spring retreat with some of the loveliest people I know

Thank you for the anticipation and experience of Squam and friendships with a group of talented, kind, incredible women

Thank you for shaking me up and placing my feet on the ground

Thank you for bringing amazing books, movies, art, poetry, in short, inspiration into my life

Thank you for presenting deep questions and opening my heart

And thank you, dear readers, for joining me here! I wish you all the loveliest end to your year and blessings for a joyous new year!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Imperfection celebration


A couple of weeks ago I was hankering after a foreign movie. Periodically I crave hearing languages other than English. I like to think this is because my ninth house is, as my astrologer put it, "loaded with planets." Poor astrology chart - I've barely skipped into Canada and Mexico, much less done any serious traveling. Still, from time to time I have to travel via the comfort of my own home and Netflix to places I've never been. And so recently I was in this mood and the description of a film from Singapore caught my eye: "This poetic film weaves together three stories of human connection with a minimalist flair."

Poetic and connection seemed good, but unfortunately I soon realized that there is practically no talking in this movie. And that English is one of the major languages in Singapore - news to me. Plus the main character of one story line is deaf and blind and much of that story appears only in subtitles with no talking and much of another story line takes place through phone texting. A good movie, with its own aesthetic, but sadly it wasn't filling my auditory needs. I found myself asleep about halfway through, shut it off, and finished my nap.

Fast forward to this weekend. I hate leaving things unfinished and this film had great reviews, so I decided to give it another try. Before I started it up, I quickly checked my iGoogle page that I'd just set up with my email accounts, Google Reader, even Pandora and a timer to help keep me focused when I'm online.

With that done, I started up the movie and settled into the quiet, slow pace, connecting much more with the characters, especially the deaf and blind woman. I hardly noticed when after about twenty minutes or so there was a shift in the tone of the movie. As one of the characters started connecting more with the outside world after the death of his wife, a lovely song started playing. The whole affect of the movie changed and it seemed a bold move, but an excellent one. I started to really like this movie, to plan ahead how I was going to give it five stars, recommend it here, etc. I watched the whole rest of the movie, probably about half an hour, really relishing the connection of the action of the movie with this great soundtrack.

It wasn't until the closing credits were rolling and I heard "This is Jewel. If you like this song, click here to vote for it," that it occurred to me that anything was amiss. Slowly it dawned on me what might have happened and I clicked over to my iGoogle page. Sure enough, part of the way through the movie the page had refreshed and Pandora had started up again. So much for a bold cinematic statement!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Six word story 21


She didn't know what to do.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Monday's Inspiration Celebration

light and dark 2

My sweet hubby gave me Wayne Muller's Sabbath for Christmas and it is totally inspiring me to bring more intentional rest into my life in 2011. The more present to my life I've become in the past few years, the more I've seen rushing as a form of violence. (Not that it's stopped me, mind you...) Think of my surprise when I read these lines by Thomas Merton:

There is a pervasive form of contemporary violence...
[and that is] activism and overwork. The rush and pressure
of modern life are a form, perhaps the most common form,
of its innate violence.

So, I'm asking myself how I can slow down, how I can make the space for rest. It seems like a good question to ponder. Yesterday I made some changes to my interface with the internet (which I find can really eat up any free time I have) by setting up an iGoogle page where I can see my incoming email from Yahoo and Gmail and posts from my favorite blogs all on one page. And there's a timer:) It will be interesting to see if this makes a difference. I know the biggest dealbreaker for me will be my own attitude and priorities. But it seems like a good time to make a change.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Holiday fun

Hope your Christmas was as fun as a barrel of monkeys!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

This has been a beautiful day so far, with just the right amount of snow - enough to be pretty, but not enough to cause any travel woes. And I'm feeling wrapped in love and sending much love to you! I hope you enjoy your day, whatever it will bring you!

Friday, December 24, 2010

More holiday musings

After pouring my heart out here last weekend about my feelings about the holidays, some healing words came my way from various sources.

From "Thoughts from Wayne" - an email newsletter from Wayne Muller:

"As spirit incarnated in human flesh, our life on earth, as children of the human family, is not a problem to be solved; it is a gift to be opened. The color of the sky, the song of a bird, a word of kindness, a strain of music, the sun on our face, the companionship of friends, the shape of clouds in summer, the red of maples in fall - these and a thousand tiny miracles punctuate a single day in a precious human life.

"If we are so preoccupied with plotting our future success or failures, we unintentionally impoverish ourselves by ignoring the astonishing harvest of these small gifts, piled one upon the other, that accumulate without our awareness or acknowledgment.

"Whatever we choose, however we decide to use our days, the shape of our days becomes the shape of our lives. For this and countless other reasons, many spiritual traditions focus their practice on the way we most honorably and authentically place our heart's best attention on one single day. As the psalmist reminds us, This is the day the Lord hath made; let us rejoice and be glad in it."

The song of a bird...

And Rachelle Mee-Chapman described one message from the Christmas story in a free video from her Flock sampler, titled "What to do with Christmas?" The first time I heard her say it I had to back up the video and watch that part again:

"there is a divine force, a divine being and that divine being wants to interact with us here on earth."

Tap, tap, tap.

The psalmist quotation from Wayne Muller's email struck me, because many years ago at SS Felicitas & Perpetua we used to sing these lines as a song and I could picture our Principal, wonderful Sister Claudine, who loved music and was truly so in love with God it was palpable. She used to lead us in a 70s love song that's eluding me right now, that she clearly associated with her vows - it was really sweet.

And then it reminded me of Father Perry, a young priest who eventually left our church (I always felt as a result of his being more popular than the older Monseigneur - do you start to understand the stirrings of my disillusionment with the Church?) and on the day of his last service, from up behind us in the choir loft, led us in a hymn I totally associated with him, the lines of which were "Be not afraid, I go before you always. Come follow me, and I will give you rest." Listening to this version on YouTube (even with the female voice singing) totally brings back powerful memories of hearing it during communion (I'm remembering it was pretty common during that part of Mass), people getting back to their pew, kneeling, the sounds of the congregation shifting around - I can practically smell it:)

Anyway, of course I Googled him, because that's what we do these days. And I don't know if this is the same Father Perry, because for all I know he could even have left the church, but I did find a Father Perry, in the same The Roman Catholic Archdiocese. I have no idea how these things work - perhaps he would have stayed in Los Angeles - who knows? But I was browsing around on the St. Joseph Parish website where a Rev Perry Leiker is the Pastor and was checking out a recent newsletter, talking about the Advent season and this section caught my eye:

"to open every spiritual pore of our being to a truth so profound: that our God loves us and wants to be with us, within us, for us, and this - forever!"

I'm not saying I had some kind of epiphany or conversion experience, but I will say that something has shifted for me and right now the world feels like a friendlier place. Or perhaps I'm more open to the friendship.

I hope you have a wonderful Christmas Eve! May you enjoy the simple, loving gifts of the season.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Imperfection celebration

I think these pictures pretty much say it all.

High school:

And then about this time a couple of years ago my dermotologist did a surprise biopsy (with my blessing!) on the same day I was to have an evening gallery reception at work. So this was the face all my guests got to see:

Ho, ho, ho!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Vote for Lis!

My creative and talented friend Lis has a wonderful project she needs help with. If you're on Facebook, please click here to learn more about how you can help her in her efforts to create a photography project to benefit Half the Sky Foundation, which provides "individual care and stimulation for the children living in Chinese welfare centers. Their stated goal is 'to ensure every one of China's orphans has a caring adult in her life.' To date, their programs have impacted the lives of 40,000 children." Doesn't this sound like an organization you'd like to support? Thanks!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Six word solstice stolen story

Sun, sun, sun, here it comes.

[Thanks to dear George Harrison, for far more than this]

Monday, December 20, 2010

Monday's Inspiration Celebration

Yesterday morning I woke up early, finally feeling refreshed after spending a lot of Saturday catching up on my sleep, and was struck by the great light hitting the bedroom wall. So I headed out into a frosty morning to see what I might catch. Here are the results:

Also, have been feeling very inspired by great movies lately and really enjoyed Snow Cake. Love that Alan Rickman!

Sunday, December 19, 2010


I'm really getting a lot of mileage out of the great Cheryl Richardson interview with Julia Cameron you've heard so much about here. In fact, after finishing Cameron's The Creative Life, I decided to read Richardson's The Unmistakable Touch of Grace. Now, this is treading into dangerous territory for me. I have to be careful with "self-help" books because they can have a way of really getting me into my head and that's not pretty. Thankfully, a lot of what Richardson writes about in this book is about dealing with exactly that, so I was getting good tips and reminders at the same time some of my usual "stuff" was getting triggered. And there was one passage that was like gold that I want to save here.

But first a little background... This can be a tricky time of the year for me, not only because of the whole sunlight issue, but as a person who has done a lot of spiritual seeking the powerful focus on Christianity at this time of the year can be difficult. I was raised Episcopalian and went to a lovely Catholic school as a child, and I really resonated with the feeling of being in church, the rituals, and the sense of connection with God, but there were also things about it that just didn't ring true for me on a deep level, especially around sin and damnation, heaven and hell.

I've explored Hinduism and its many gods, have taken the Buddhist refuge and bodhisattva vows where there isn't really an external "God", and find myself still feeling like I need to make my peace with the God of my childhood. Even just the other day I was thinking (see, perhaps there's the trouble) about how I need to get clear on this issue and in the pre-dawn darkness a bird suddenly tapped on the window and then hovered there, startling me and stopping my mind. This was so unusual it seemed a powerful symbol, of what I don't know. The mystery, perhaps. The not-knowingness? See, there I am again trying to make sense of it all:)

OK, so that's what I've been mulling over these days. Oh, and have I mentioned that winter came early this year and brought her little ice trick with her, raising another problem I have with this time of year? Panic about transportation. So let's just say I've been right at my edge this week. And then I read this passage in The Unmistakable Touch of Grace, describing one of Richardson's greatest fears, flying:

"Several years later I was on another flight, reading a copy of Harold Kushner's book Who Needs God. Suddenly the plane hit bumpy air. I continued reading, breathing slowly to try and relax. But soon after, the turbulence got worse and the plane began rocking back and forth. The memory of my earlier flight kicked in and I started to panic. I began to pray, asking repeatedly for God to intervene and stop the turbulence so I could avoid a full-blown panic attack. But it only got worse. That's when I started bargaining.

"I began to recite every prayer I could remember from my childhood in the hopes of purchasing my emotional freedom. I was terrified and on the verge of being sick. The turbulence continued. After several minutes, I gave up praying and resigned myself to the fact that I just might die (the ultimate form of surrender). I picked up my book and started reading in an attempt to distract myself from my fear. It was at this moment that I was blessed by the comfort of grace.

"At the exact point where I had left off in the book, Kushner began to describe the kind of relationship most people have with God. He suggested that many of us treat God like Santa Claus, asking for favors or to be relieved from hardship and pain. Instead of asking God to remove our painful circumstances, he recommended that we pray for the courage and spiritual fortitude to deal with them."

Aha! That hit it right on the head for me. And so, using Buddhist phrasing (which is most comfortable for me these days) when I've started panicking about one of the many things that is taking me to my edge, I've started asking "May I be brave." This rings so true for me that I don't even need to "know" who, if anyone, I'm asking for help. And I find my mind is much less concerned with figuring it all out, getting all my spiritual ducks in a row. I think it soothes such a deep fear in such an empowering way, that it puts my frightened mind at ease. And so I can experience grace. Whatever that is:)

PS LOVED The Kids Are All Right. Hooray for flawed human beings and our lovely, messy lives!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Finally, the sun!

It might not seem like it, because I hoard my sunshine pictures to post here, but we've had a run of gray weather this week along with cold and ice. But today the sun came out, the roads are fine, there's a lamb roast in the oven for my sweetie, and I've been catching up on my sleep. And I find I don't have much more to report because I want to go watch The Kids are All Right - will let you know what I think of that tomorrow! Hope you're having a delightful Saturday!

Friday, December 17, 2010

five senses friday

comfort food intended to take the edge off a wild weather week

a coworker's Sugar Plum Spice herbal tea - yummy!

this lovely Catherine of Siena poem on Poetry Chaikhana

shaken by two separate storms leaving icy roads in late autumn - what will the winter hold?

Van remind me to let go into the mystery

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Imperfection celebration

This is a legendary story that you may have already heard, but humor me:) So I took ballet when I was in elementary school. One day in class I was very pleased with myself at the end of an exercise I thought I'd done quite well at. When the instructor said "Good job, Anne!" (my middle name was Ann) I said "Thanks, but my name isn't Ann." And of course, he said that he'd been talking to my classmate, Anne. Oh, that was a bad one, although it's funny now.

I love this photo where I'm playing violin in my ballet outfit. My husband has one where he's playing piano in his football uniform. Hilarious. But it also reminds me of a sad violin story. My parents came to my violin recital in which I just totally faked playing. Afterwards my mom said that it had been very good, but that one person didn't really seem to be playing. I bluffed at the time, but if you're reading this, Mom, it was me. Although I think you may have known it already:)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Six word story 20

In the spring, meet me here.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Monday's Inspiration Celebration

As I mentioned on Friday, my dear and amazing sister recently turned me on to Cheryl Richardson's interview with Julia Cameron. Of course, I immediately listened to it and then requested a copy of Cameron's new book, The Creative Life, from the library. It was such a fun read! She describes it in the interview as a creative diary, and that's what it is. It's a window into her day-to-day life - her visits with friends and family and what she's thinking and feeling. I found it to be a lovely and intimate book, capturing how one woman is living her creative life and possibly giving the reader ideas on how they could live theirs.

The fun thing about listening to the interview and reading the book is how it opened my heart. And the timing was good, on the heels of finishing Brene Brown's incredible Gifts of Imperfection. Brene writes a lot about the necessity of not caring about what other people think and not trying to be "cool". In fact, in the book or maybe in her interview with Jamie Ridler and possibly in both, she says that she has become what she used to make fun of, taking photography classes and doing yoga. This was big for me, because there's something about the earnestness of Cameron's philosophy that can bring out the cityslicker Scorpio cynic in me. I can stay away from things because of some weird stereotype I've created about "those" people who do "that". It's kind of like the bully who really would like to join in, but can't get past their woundedness to allow themselves to be vulnerable and risk looking foolish or not fitting in. There was something very healing about connecting with the kind of awkward sincerity of Cameron and I'm very grateful for it. It opened my heart and my world and brought in all kinds of possibilities - cool, uncool, whatever.

I also had to watch a video of her, since her voice was so not what I expected from her author photo. In case you're hankering after a video, too, here's one I enjoyed.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

five (really) good things

1. delicious farm greens in December - yum and hooray for the high tunnel:)

2. playing Santa on Friday evening - I love supporting Rodg's amazing creativity!

3. watching As It Is in Heaven, a gorgeous Swedish film currently streaming on Netflix - big thanks to Katie for the suggestion!

4. a lovely evening in front of a roaring fire, watching the last Godfather movie

5. being pretty much done with holiday shopping - looking forward to taking our card picture today

Hope you're all having a lovely Sunday, full of really good things!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Still in love with the sun

Another sunrise, playing hide and seek with the sun on my way to the bus.

The big news for me in my love affair with the sun is that this past week marked a turning point for the time the sun sets here. Apparently yesterday the sun set a minute later than the day before. So we've already had our earliest sunset here and on January 9th we'll have our last latest sunrise and then that will swing around, too. Not that I'm counting days or anything:)

Friday, December 10, 2010

five senses friday

very delicious grilled fish tacos with avocado in the company of fun friends

wonderful smoky wood fires on cold, dark evenings

light from any source I can find these days - the little bits of sun, a gorgeous fingernail moon, dancing lights at night

simultaneously vulnerable, terrified, and brave being filmed for a video at work and also heartbroken at the loss of a favorite patron

this great podcast with Julia Cameron on Cheryl Richardson's monthly telegathering - another shout out to Kath for a super timely recommendation!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Imperfection celebration

This is the wall by our driveway that I drove into when the folks came to trim our trees a few years ago and left me I'm sure enough space to maneuver around, but I miscalculated. The best part of the moment for me was right after I hit the wall thinking that maybe I could just drive over it. Needless to say, it wouldn't have worked and I didn't try it. But I like that the idea briefly popped into my mind. The moment of impact was not lost on the tree trimmers, but I did manage to speed away after adding (yet another) point to the turn...

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Six word story 19

She was surprised to be there.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Monday's Inspiration Celebration

I've had a couple of fun creative inspirations this past week. One was receiving an amazing thank you note painting from Lis that is just totally gorgeous and whimsical in the best possible way. Love it! Thank you so much, Lis, for brightening my week!

The other fun experience was assisting with a craft program at work and distributing a bunch of cigar boxes that have been taking up space in our basement. It felt great to get them out and into such appreciative hands. People did amazing things with them, mainly as holiday gifts. It reminded me of a story I read in Wayne Muller's book about a childless woman who invited all her friends' kids over before the holidays so the parents could have an afternoon off. She ended up with about 15 kids and they all made crafts - the older ones helping the littler ones. She also set up a gift wrapping station, so the kids could leave with gifts for friends and families already wrapped. Apparently the children had so much fun that when they got home they asked if they could make more presents. It took the attention away from the lists they'd been making for what Santa would bring them, and put it on creating gifts for others. I'd been totally inspired by the story, but hadn't anticipated seeing that same energy at our program. What fun to be surprised! I definitely will want to try to do something similar next year.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

five (really) good things

1. Feeling cozy in our little house on a cold wintry day.

2. A great visit with Molly, full of fun, insightful, interesting conversations. Thank you so much for coming to visit!

3. Enjoying the Musee d'Orsay exhibit - being pulled into each painting.

4. Getting a booth at Puckett's and enjoying a delicious Southern dinner of fried green beans and catfish - yum!

5. This thought-provoking post on Leo Babauta's Zen Habits.

Hope you're all having a lovely weekend full of really good things!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

In love with the sun

I'm playing with different ideas in this darkest time of the year. Once the Solstice hits and the days become almost imperceptibly longer my energy totally shifts. But these days leading up to it are hard for me. So, I'm continuing to point my camera at the sun. I'm becoming some sort of sun paparazzi!

Friday, December 3, 2010

five senses friday

Food Should Taste Good olive chips - thanks Kath!

savory split pea soup simmering on the stove

this great video of one my idols - I love, love, love Patti Smith!

excited to see Molly and enjoy the Musee D'Orsay exhibit

this great episode of This American Life - perfect example of why I love this show:)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Imperfection celebration

Some of my most imperfect moments have related to my car. Here are two of my favorite car repair descriptions from my old days at Saturn:

"Mud on rear tire gives appearance of blowout"

"Customer states hesitation when driving"

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Six word story 18

She loves to travel from home.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Monday's Inspiration Celebration

Totally inspired by Karen's awesome sunflares, I decided to try to capture a couple of my own over the weekend.

Thanks for the inspiration, Karen and Lis!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

five (really) good things

Hope you're all enjoying a relaxing weekend! Here are some of the highlights from mine:

1. Eating Thanksgiving leftovers while watching the Godfather movies

2. Sleeping in until all hours, snuggled into warm flannel sheets

3. College Hunks Hauling Junk coming and cleaning out our basement - I've never seen it look this good!

4. The first toasty fires of the season

5. Enjoying time off with my sweetie - working on projects together and just hanging out

Wait! How did I forget this totally fun deleted scene from Pirate Radio? Make that six (really) good things!

How about you? Care to share a few of your (really) good things this weekend?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Enough, part three

You know how sometimes you just keep running into the same thing in a bunch of different places and you realize the universe is trying to tell you something? Well, imagine my surprise when I read Marianne Elliott's post this past week titled, "Enough for who?" Here's the part that I can't get out of my head:

"It didn’t matter that everything I am doing added up to a perfect alignment with my values in terms of outcome, what mattered was that the mix lacked my own particular recipe for being joyfully abundantly nourished.

"Even noticing this, my friends, was a revolution.

"If you haven’t known me very long then you may not yet realise that I have spent most of my 38 years throwing myself heart, body and soul into work that I hope will serve others. How many people I can serve? How much suffering I can ease? These have been my measure of enoughness.

"What nourishes me? What tops up my personal energy stores? Those were not questions I would have thought to even ask myself five years ago.

"Five years ago I thought that all that mattered was that I was doing good. If I was serving others, I was getting it right. Then somewhere along the line (somewhere near June 2007) I started to realise that taking care of myself was part of being of service in the world...

"So when I realised that my sense of not-enoughness was actually a sense that I was not getting enough of the nourishment and renewal I need it was with great joy that I embraced the opportunity to make some changes. So here are some of those changes:

"taking more walks on the beach
teaching more face-to-face workshops
booking more speaking gigs (they light me up like a fricken christmas tree, no lie)
giving myself more space to create
more working with others, more collaborations
more time to play with children (have i mentioned how much i love kids? l.o.v.e ‘em)
much more dancing
more slow travel (full immersion, no rushing, plenty of time to soak it all in)

In her post she talks about how she lived with the feeling of "not enough"-ness for a while to see what it would tell her. I've been doing that a bit in the past couple of days and will definitely continue to listen, but here are some things I'm hearing that I could use more of these days:

more time in my body, either through yoga or meditation
less time on the internet
more time with Sun magazine - I have TEN unread issues, people!
more evening tea
more quiet, more space, less speed
more presence in the work I do - slowing down and really being with it

It's interesting. Marianne talks about how her introvert needs are being fulfilled, but not her extravert needs. My list is exactly the opposite. Of course, part of me wonders if that's because she's experiencing spring in New Zealand and I'm here in autumnal North America... Still, it has been a revelation to watch Wayne Muller's talk and hear him say that we can only love so many people well. He writes about that in his book, too, and that's very helpful for me. In my usual workday I interact with probably an average of anywhere between fifty and a hundred people. That's a lot for this introvert. And I get a lot out of it, but not when I hold myself to an unrealistic standard of loving behavior and don't fill my well with quality time alone or with my sweetie.

So, how are you feeling these days? What is your soul calling out for more (or less) of?