Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year 2009---JUMP!

Here is a video from me to you with my Word for the Year selected---it is JUMP! This video is 3:41 long.

I apologize in advance for the video quality; I had a long day and way too much caffeine, thus the jitters at times. I am going to have a contemplative evening and go to bed early. Sounds heavenly, yes?

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Resistance to Love...Jump!



I found this quote and thought it would be a good one for the new year:

"Our resistance to love is greater than our resistance to fear...because fear is what we know. Limitation is what we know. It's an odd and bizarre comfort zone. Limitation is our comfort zone because it's what we know. "Unlimited life"...we don't know from "unlimited life". And we think "Well, if I had unlimited possibility I wouldn't know how to behave!" Exactly. You couldn't control it. You wouldn't want to control it."---Marianne Williamson from her tape "Letting Go and Becoming"


I always thought it was strange that I had so much resistance to good things---also called the "fear of success". Turns out it's not as uncommon an experience as I'd thought.




For New Year's Eve 2009, I'm planning on following Chani's lead in selecting a word for the year. Chani read about "Word of the Year" at Rebecca's site, who got the idea from Christine Kane. I like to spend the evening journaling and contemplating the upcoming year. This year I'll do some art as well. I'd pretty much decided to choose the word "Jump", but wanted to be sure...I knew the exact word would come out as I created the art. I'd fooled around with "Boldness" and "Leap", too. Then I read Leah's choice---Leap!---and first I thought, "Darn it!" then I thought, "Whoo hoo, we're just both on the same page!" However, I'll flesh it out a bit more and blog about it here.



~Photos by LoveHubbie Mark

Monday, December 29, 2008

12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women

I am beginning a new blogging group on January 9th called "Next Chapter", and the book for the upcoming season is, "12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women" by Gail McMeekin. This is one of my favorite books, one I promised myself I'd read annually but never have...so I'm very excited to have the opportunity to reread it in community. Checkout the group website, which is hosted by Jamie Ridler, if you'd like to join!


Sunday, December 28, 2008

Sacred Life Sunday: Exchanging Beliefs... or Crossing Over



It's always bothered me that my spiritual beliefs are so fluid. They seem to change and evolve so rapidly that I can never find a group or community of like-minded people. Jane wrote humorously about this recently. By the time I find a place to belong, my beliefs have morphed into something that doesn't fit any longer. But one can't help what one believes, right? Today during my quiet time I read this wonderful story in "The Gospel According to Jesus: A New Translation and Guide to His Essential Teachings for Believers and Unbelievers" by Stephen Mitchell, the husband of Byron Katie. I think you'll like it.

The Buddha said, "A man walking along a highroad sees a great river, its near bank dangerous and frightening, its far bank safe. He collects sticks and foliage, makes a raft, paddles across the river, and reaches the other shore. Now suppose that, after he reaches the other shore, he takes the raft and puts it on his head and walks with it on his head wherever he goes. Would he be using the raft in an ppropriate way? No; a reasonable man will realize that the raft has been very useful to him in crossing the river and arriving safely on the other shore, but that once he has arrived, it is proper to leave the raft behind and walk on without it. This is using the raft appropriately.

In the same way, all truths should be used to cross over; they should not be held on to once you have arrived. You should let go of even the most profound insight or the most wholesome teaching; all the more so, unwholesome teachings."




~Photos by LoveHubbie Mark

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Love Rock Number Four: Do What Makes Your Heart Sing

See the Love Rock story here.

I took Kim's Love Rocks to Hawaii with me in November. The first one I left was in Princeville on the north shore of the island of Kauai. Kauai is drop dead stunning---old, and dripping with mana. Lush, green, and the wettest place on earth. It rained there almost constantly while we were there, but really, I didn't mind.

Here is a picture of me in the pool on one of the sun breaks:



The pool is surrounded by lava rocks that were used in its construction.

I felt so like myself here...we spent two weeks in Princeville, and I feel like it was there that I "remembered" who I was and made decisions about how I wanted to spend my time back here at home. So the rock I left there was "Do What Makes Your Heart Sing":




I left it on a lava rock in a secluded part of the pool for someone else to find. I hope it inspires them the way it inspired me.





~Photos by LoveHubbie Mark

Friday, December 26, 2008

Being Happy

Watch this short and profound video. I watched it here on Lori-Lyn's blog "The Dream Life" and felt compelled to---yes, again---lift it right from her blog and republish it here. It is only 1:15 long. I looked up a little bit about Brother David Steindl-Rast who I'd never heard of before and was delighted to find out more about such a wonderful spiritual teacher. His website is gratefulness.org.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Cartoon

I hope all of you who celebrate Christmas have a wonderful day. And I wish the same for those of you who don't celebrate Christmas...love and peace and joy to each one of you.

I really love this Christmas Cartoon from my friend nakedpastor (David Hayward) from New Brunswick, Canada:

Monday, December 22, 2008

Graduation Picture

Here is a picture of my lovely stepdaughter and me at her graduation last weekend. It was the best of the bunch :)

She graduated summa cum laude in education and has a job as a math teacher in Houston. LoveHubbie and I are very proud of her!

~Photo by LoveHubbie Mark

Meditations on Winter

Here are my favorite blogging posts so far on this time of year (cold, bleak, fallow), and they are beautiful:

Leah's from Creative Every Day, The Key to Winter, which I discussed yesterday.

Kerstin's from Kerstin Martin called December Views 21.

Christine's from Abbey of the Arts called Visual Meditation: Crystalline Darkness, Glittering Stillness.

Enjoy!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sacred Life Sunday: Winter Storms


Leah painted "The Key to Winter" and featured it on her blog today. It's the type of artwork that I could stare at and contemplate and see new things in at different points in my life, I'm sure. I don't know much about art, but I would describe this painting as "rich" and "full" and even, "stunning".

Saturday night as I write this we are getting ready for a winter storm. Power outages are anticipated. For us this means not just no power, but no heat, water, or bathroom facilities. Most people who live here just take all this in stride, but it bothers me. Everything from feeling the chilly wind, to the dark gloomy days, to the snow that clings, to not being able to walk my driveway because of the snow and ice, to....worst of all...having no control. Being ripped away from the things I care about and use to connect to the rest of the world, like my computer. From my books. From warmth. Water. Light.

My thoughts have been going down this dark path today.

I would like to be in the flow as I was when I went to Texas. For some reason, the fear of snowy storms makes it much harder. Even so I've decided to do the same thing that I did in Texas, just with much greater challenge. Be present, feel what there is to be felt, and go through the whole process, however it ends up.



Of course, I also bought (ordered) a book to support me. This one is called "Winter: A Spiritual Biography of the Season"---a book of short essays on winter---and has sections like "Winter As a Time of Sorrow and Barrenness", Winter As a Time to Be Scoured and a Time to Succor the Scoured", "Winter As a Time of Shoring Ourselves Up", "Winter As a Time of Delight and Play", etc. Each section is filled with stories by fine writers like Annie Dillard, Rachel Carson, E. B. White, and Kathleen Norris. Hurry, Amazon, hurry...I so need this...today!

I don't feel jolly; I don't feel moved by the obvious beauty of the snow; I just feel cold and barren (but not depressed) and empty and dark. But now I realize that Sunday is Winter Solstice, and for some reason this gives me some peace. And I look at Leah's painting and feel like everything will be okay.

The Work by Byron Katie has helped me to accept reality, to challenge my thoughts---the ones that cause me to feel any type of stress. It provides an emotional and intellectual challenge that keeps me on my toes with the entire rest of my life. I think I will go and do some work on some of my thoughts about this. Or...even better...I think I'll go to bed. I'm coming down with a cold and maybe the sleep will give me the energy for a whole new perspective tomorrow, on Sacred Sunday, Winter Solstice.


~Photos by LoveHubbie Mark

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Another Silly Video

I found out about elfyourself.com from Lori-Lyn and shamelessly copied this from her. It was just so funny and I couldn't stop laughing. Hope you enjoy it as well.

Send your own ElfYourself eCards


We're getting ready for another BIG STORM here in the Pacific Northwest, with more snow and forcasted power outages, hurricane force winds. When we lose power here, it means losing not just electricity, but water (we're on a well with an electric pump) and heat (the fan on our woodstove is electric-powered) and of course, bathroom facilities. I'm hoping we make it through okay...somehow I think we will. Two years ago when we lost power for eleven days we went to a hotel after the second day. That will be my choice again. So we wait...

I'll watch the video again; I think I've watched it 5X already :)

The Ice Hotel


Well with all this snow, imagine this, the Number 1 Vacation Spot in Sweden:

The Ice Hotel, a hotel made of ice in which you "dress in warm thermal underwear, put on a hat" and then lie down on your sculpted ice bed. "You sleep in a thermal sleeping bag on a special bed built of snow and ice, on reindeer skins."

Who has been there? Not I, nor will I anytime soon. I have more than enough snow, ice, and cold here to satisfy me!

I am grateful for my warm house and warm cozy bed.

~Photo from the Ice Hotel Website

Friday, December 19, 2008

Quote From A Wise Man


"Everything is temporary"---Rick Hamrick


This quote was in a back communication with Rick regarding my post here and I wanted to share it with you all, since it is simple and profound. Here's the full text of what Rick wrote:

"I seem to be free of the ever-present anxiety that I've lived with for months and years and that I had when I left on Friday. It is a fantastic feeling. I'm hoping it's not temporary" reminded me of a very powerful thought: it is all temporary. You, though, have the power (always have, always will) to find that peaceful place again, or to fall back into anxiety and stress. The key is to reside in your power, to listen to the voice inside which is connected directly to that power, and to worry not one instant when things turn sour.


Rick Hamrick is a Sufi mystic masquerading as a former (ouch) corporate IT manager. He is also the OFG, a proud PV, father of four marvelously creative and powerful daughters, and second banana to his wife, author Julia Rogers Hamrick. And lastly, he is my good friend, Official Voluntary Blog Editor Extraordinaire, and winner 12 times of the "Man Did You Help Me Out Award" for happyluau.





~Photo by LoveHubbie Mark

Thursday, December 18, 2008

All Snowed In











~All Photos by LoveHubbie Mark

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Hilarious Video "In the Doghouse"

This video is actually an ad for JC Penney jewelry, but it is really funny. Especially listen to the monotone sound in the background of the doghouse, the woman's monotone "airport" voice (you'll see what I mean). It is a teensy weensy bit negative about men, but my male readers have a keen sense of humor and will appreciate it (although it will not apply to you, I'm sure).

Here it is: http://bewareofthedoghouse.com/VideoPage.aspx

Coming Home From Texas


It's sort of an interesting story, so I thought I'd tell it here. We left Houston to fly home and it was 75 degrees outside. I brought some fuzzy socks to slip on over my sandals to keep my feet warm, since I'd heard it was very cold in Seattle. First off, our plane landed after skidding on the ice, but all was fine. Safety!

I'd lost my socks, though, so LoveHubbie gave me some of his, once we got our checked baggage. I think it was 23 degrees. The wind was blowing too. The off-airport parking lot was covered in ice. It was hard just to get to our car. We skated and held onto all the cars, which were packed in really close together, so it was possible to brace against them. It actually was funny. Those of you in the northeast wonder what parking lot does not put down salt or gravel or something to avoid accidents and lawsuits? But we made it into the car.

Then we had no scraper or anything to get the ice off the windshield with, so LoveHubbie tried a credit card, but it didn't work very well. We ended up just running the heater to let it melt (it took about a half hour).

Next, we couldn't get out of the parking space. My car (which LoveHubbie was driving since he feels more confident in the snow) was poised right next to the car on our left an inch or so away. So LoveHubbie finally gave up and got out, then slipped and slid up the hill to get to the staffed kiosk to find help. The one employee who was there (a teenager) came over with a shovel and some salt and we eventually got out. LoveHubbie is good at that. Driving in scary situations.

We made it home to a frigid house. LoveHubbie split the firewood, brought it in and started a fire, set up the humidifier, and we went to bed. It was about 6 hours after our plane landed, so the whole thing took us four extra hours. It felt like we'd been gone for at least a week.

Yesterday morning we woke up early to get ready for work and were going about our business when all of a sudden I had a swift, sharp, hard pain on my sub-scapula (the technical term according to LoveHubbie) that took my breath away, literally. It felt like someone had stabbed me. I've had all sorts of back pain, but not this kind. The pains kept coming frequently and randomly and I couldn't catch my breath. The rest of my back was okay, but the stabbing pain kept coming and I couldn't get my breath. After about a half hour of this, LoveHubbie thought I had a pulmonary embolism (from flying) and said I needed to go to the emergency room. Off we drove.

The ER doctors put me on oxygen so that I could breathe, then tried to get the pain under control. I was there all day having various tests done and was pronounced normal, just with some sort of weird intramuscular inflammatory pain that was in an area that affected my breathing. They didn't know what the heck was going on. Later in the afternoon I came home and went to bed. I am much better today (the pain is just moderate and does not interfere at all now with my breathing). I am fine, thanks to good medical care---even though they didn't figure out the cause exactly, they helped me get oxygen and the painkillers made the pain manageable. And thanks to LoveHubbie, of course.

Despite all of this, I am not sorry I went on the trip or for any of my troubles. I feel like I'm learning so much. Every problem was solved in its own time. I seem to be free of the ever-present anxiety that I've lived with for months and years and that I had when I left on Friday. It is a fantastic feeling. I'm hoping it's not temporary. The trip itself was full of miracles. Read this if you missed yesterday's post.

Everything is okay.

Everything is fine.

All is well.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

So Much to Write


Well now, there is so much to write about my trip to Texas.

There were innumerable inconveniences. My plane out was delayed for 3 hours. Every 10 minutes we were told by Continental that it would be 10 more minutes so we really didn't have a good chance to plan. They said it was a baggage handler cart that ran into the plane, leaving a dent, and they kept trying to fix it. Many other people were inconvenienced tremendously because they had connecting flights. I walked around the area in circles, met many nice people, and got almost all of my 10,000 steps in; I keep a pedometer and walk daily.

We got a dirty smoky rental car, then (were upgraded for free) to a rental car with an empty gas tank (we'd paid for gas). We at last got a good rental car. It was way nicer than the one we paid for and was safer on the fast highways---a Mercury Mountaineer. Leather seats and with gas at $1.35/gallon we didn't mind the lower fuel efficiency in exchange for safety.

I saw the Cotton Patch, Rick, in Lufkin, but didn't get a chance to stop...we were racing to get to my stepdaughter's who had dinner waiting. We left Olympia, WA at 5:20 am and got to Nacodoches, TX at 10 pm at night.

As for the food we ate, they had tea (Lipton only), coffee (JUST coffee, not lattes, or different types), white bread, iceberg lettuce, and was absent any taste not provided by MSG. So I had migraines both nights. I ate as little of it as possible, having brought raw protein bars and other yummy foods. The times I did eat, I did it consciously out of hospitality---my stepdaughter cooked for us for the first time!

Now, here's the exciting part. LoveHubbie's ex-wife has had an adversarial relationship with us for over a decade. It has caused many problems for LoveHubbie's children and of course, for us. Let's call her KFC. Two years ago KFC married a guy who we'll call Ron. We'd never met Ron. The last time we saw KFC was at the kids' high school graduation four years ago when she pretended that LoveHubbie was deceased and didn't announce him as a parent during the small graduation program we were invited to. So we didn't know what to expect at this graduation.

Well, we met KFC & Ron, and they were kind, loving, and gracious. Ron stepped up and broke the ice, introducing himself and setting the tone of the party we'd all attended, and KFC followed. We spent most of the time talking to Ron & KFC and KFC's parents (LoveHubbie's ex in-laws). They too were delightful. It was a 180 degree turn around. They could have been just polite. But they extended themselves beyond that to warmth and welcoming. I don't think that the kids (all adults now) expected it or knew what to do or say. We yakked it up for about an hour and a half. As though nothing had ever happened.

Best of all, KFC & Ron are very, very happy. He obviously loves her, treats her like a queen, loves her kids, and is someone with fine character. He is attentive and kind. She seemed incredibly happy. She has the life she always wanted. I felt so much joy for her. I've always thought---knew---I'd be jealous if I saw her happy because I didn't feel she deserved it after causing us and her children so much pain, but I didn't. I just felt profound relief and healing. I couldn't stop crying, but because I was so happy. I felt overjoyed for the kids. I was thrilled for LoveHubbie as well because much of the time these last ten years I have tried to protect him from things she would do. I could tell that this was finally over, that she had moved on. Way on.

I acknowledged her for what she had done. I told her that our religion (hers and mine) was about love and forgiveness and that I appreciated her being so gracious because the kids would be the beneficiaries. I told her how much I appreciated it personally as well. I also told each of the kids that I appreciated their mother for her kindness and courage and grace. Still couldn't stop bawling.

Before this (as in any time before Saturday) I would have told you I almost hated KFC. I wouldn't have been upset if I'd heard she died in an accident. All of that changed, and I'm not sure how. I just know it did and I am so very happy. For her, for us, for the kids. I feel like now I can look forward to the future of weddings, funerals, and grandchildren without dread.

We didn't just chat a bit or make nice. We all talked and talked as though we were close friends. As though we were family.

There were stressors throughout the trip, including other family members who were negative. I continued to encourage people with my mantra about going with the flow, doing what we could, seeing the positive in what was happening, being grateful, being present. This was good for me because it allowed me to not forget what I was there to do.

In particular I also felt very close to my youngest stepson who has always clashed with me in personality and values. After sharing with him my gratitude towards his mother (all while continuing to bawl), I felt a definite shift in our relationship. I feel like things are fine between us and also that he feels more positively about his father.

This trip was good for all of us.

As if that were not miracle enough, Saturday night I fell with my entire 207.5 pounds landing smack on my left knee on the flagstone tile bathroom floor. LoveHubbie heard the sound from the room and was sure it was broken. It hurt and swelled and bruised, but it was not broken! And I could still walk, although with pain.

Then coming home I had someone, a gate agent at Continental make fun of me. I was having a good deal of trouble walking by then (should have gotten a wheelchair) and I needed an aisle seat. The gate agent was brusque to me, which was understandable since we were very busy, the plane was full, and it is the holiday season. But then he wouldn't give me my boarding pass back during the boarding for "people needing assistance". I just waited and hoped something would work out. About halfway through the boarding process (when it would be really hard for me to get on and not slow people down) he looked right at me, then walked in the opposite direction, found LoveHubbie way off to the side and in the back of the crowd and handed the boarding passes to him. Then he came back to the gate ticket counter and made a face and rolled his eyes at me.

Of course there were a million ways to take this. Instead of taking it in any normal, healthy way, I just burst into tears. I shuffled onto the plane crying. I was in a lot of pain, moving slowly down the aisle, moving my heavy bag from seat to seat, holding everyone behind me up. I had been dealing with some stressors just before we got to the gate and was tired too, and I kind of fell apart. I just couldn't stop the tears. Well, it ended up that the lady seated in front of me in the plane turned around and asked, "Can I help you? I'm a therapist." We talked for about ten minutes and I felt A.O.K. I had just gotten off course. I thanked her profusely. The whole trip was like that---one miracle after another.

So the travel inconveniences---they were fine because I had zero responsibilities but to do what I could and then wait and let life happen around me. The Texas food---thank goodness for migraine medicine and packed tasty morsels! KFC & Ron are family now, as are KFC's parents. And I feel very loving towards my youngest stepson, who I am convinced also changed his attitude towards me and LoveHubbie as well. Instead of being a family at war, for the first time the kids have all four of their parents and their grandparents able to interact, socialize, and plan things together---even to share time with them!

I am glad I took the risk to go. I felt like I was in Life School 400 (graduate school) and I learned so much.

I will tell you more about my homecoming as well as post pictures in later posts.

Peace and thank you for the welcome and kind words in your comments on my last post,

Olivia

~Photo from Vanessa F. via CuteOverload

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Yes, I'm Back!


Hello, everyone, I'm back! No, I did NOT decide to just stay in Hawaii! Not this time. I've been back for about 10 days, but have been scurrying around taking care of the business of being gone for so long. And other drama that comes up in my life now and again...

I am leaving early tomorrow to fly to Houston and then drive to a little town in Texas called Nacogdoches to see my stepdaughter graduate from college and will be back Sunday. It's a whirlwind visit for my whirlwind life. But it actually will be a blessed relief, because for most of the time I will get to just sit back and relax and do what is right before me instead of scurrying and multitasking. Nothing will be within my control, so I will just go with the flow.

There are a bijillion reasons why this trip is stressful and "should" be difficult (mostly the usual dysfunctional family things, plus tight deadlines and bad food and long drives and...being in Texas). However, my perspective is not on the stress, but the singlemindedness of the beguiling challenge to let go and stay present---that is ALL I have to do and ALL I really CAN do...plus I'm getting a break in the hectic action of my life and am pleased about it!

I have lots to share and to fill you in on, including Be Brave things, Kim's Love Rocks, and more. But I wanted to pop by here before you thought I'd vanished to the Land of Aloha. TTYS, O

Friday, November 7, 2008

Aloha Oe

Aloha `oe, aloha `oe
E ke onaona noho i ka lipo
One fond embrace,
A ho`i a`e au
Until we meet again

We are leaving in exactly 9 hours and I've gotta sleep and get ready to VAMOOSE! I will be thinking of you and holding you in my heart :) See you in December! Much Love, O

Thursday, November 6, 2008

OTV Travel Tip

Here is another video (2:14) I made while packing for vacation while my Internet connection was down:

Love Rock Number Three: Be Brave (!!)

Here is a video (3:46) I made while packing for vacation while my Internet connection was down:




It is of some significant for several reasons. For one, Miss Porcupine makes a return appearance. For another, I didn't give my love rocks to the two repair guys (Internet and phone) who came today. One was truly a Repair Angel, and the other was simply a very nice guy. I chickened out! I shook the hands of both of them, and promised them home-cooked meals if they ever had to come out again. I thanked them profusely.

This forced me to see how being brave is a muscle, and my muscles have become flaccid lately from lack of use. I tend to use my vacations sort of like I suppose most people use mental hospitals after nervous breakdowns---I wait until I have no more resources to draw upon, then I go on vacation---where I relax, restore, and re-create myself. Right now I feel like a weak shadow of who I am.

I know better, but yet I repeat this pattern again and again. Neither myself nor LoveHubbie knows how to pace ourselves with well-spaced time for work and play. We work, burn out, keep working for many more weeks or months, watch our lives start to disintegrate, keep working, and then...off in the distance we see the vacation. So we have hope. We keep working but we now have a goal. Not just us, but the staff at LoveHubbie's office thinks, "If we can only hold on until then..." Then we get there. Finally. We go on vacation. Everyone gets a break.

We remind ourselves of who we are. We are in Hawaii. We talk about never leaving Hawaii. We decide to come home anyway. We BMW (bitch-moan-whine) about how hard re-entry is. And then we repeat the cycle.

Gosh, but I want to do this differently this time. I want to be brave enough to create the kind of life I truly want while I am in Hawaii. And to bring it back here. And to do things differently.

Your prayers and/or good, positive, creative energies are actively solicited...

See the Love Rock story here.

I'm Back!

Whoa! I've been caught in the netherworld for the last three days with no Internet service...but I'm back up now and recorded this video that I'd hoped I'd get to post---yippee! I'm saying goodbye in it, but I should get to post a time or two more if my Internet connection holds out :) This video is 5:27 long:

Monday, November 3, 2008

Today, This Made My Day

What can I do for someone else today? Here is a story about someone who made a difference.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Sacred Life Sunday: Be Gentle with Yourself (Love Rock #2)



I gave Love Rock #2 (Be Gentle with Yourself) to my local friend J., who is going through a difficult divorce. I went to dinner and a movie with her last night and almost forgot, then gave it to her at the last minute. I think it's important that she be gentle with herself, that we all be gentle with ourselves. There is enough harshness in the world, and there are enough harsh people. Let's be different.

See the Love Rock story here.

~Photo by Elizabeth F. via CuteOverload

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Election


Here are two positive articles I've found related to the upcoming presidential election:

One is from Lori-Lyn, called "Why I'm Voting for Barack Obama".

The other is from Jim Wallis, called "Be Not Afraid", which I found via Lori-Lyn as well.

I believe that both presidential candidates are fine men, and that we should make our choice based upon our values and upon what we want for our country. All of the negativity and all of the attacks are distractions from that. I especially appreciated these articles because they were straightforward and positive.

UPDATE: And here is a third, from Brene Brown, called "This I Believe...About Politics"! Amen to that :)

Friday, October 31, 2008

Love Rock Number One: Focus On What's Right

How important is this? It is vital to focus on what is right with our lives and to look at those things with gratitude. So, I gave away my first rock (video is 1:43):

Rock My World!

Kim Mailhot, the Queen of Arts, sent me ten rocks, to do with whatever I saw fit. Here and here is where she writes about the rocks. What a creative idea! A way of spreading love around...

So I made this short video (2:36) about the rocks. One thing I promise when you see it is that your hair will never looks worse than mine at the video's start...so you now need never feel like you need to look any special way in making a video. I've busted that myth forever. For-EVER!



For the next few days, I'm going to make little videos about what I do with the rocks. It should be an interesting journey.

One thing, already interesting, is that one of my rocks is a BE BRAVE rock. I don't know if Kim knew how much the BE BRAVE project means to me. Here is my BE BRAVE summary from the first season of BE BRAVE, and my first post from the second season of BE BRAVE. That second season has languished lately, and I've realized that I'd forgotten all about it. Not just the second season, but about being brave. I have indeed moved into survival...again. So this rock was a great reminder. When I saw the rock in the video, I "misread" it because I "mis-saw" it, thinking it said, "Be Here". I'm all for being here, for being present, but I also want to be brave. So guess who is going to get that rock?

Here is one of my favorite BE BRAVE posts, the Libby Sauter video, one I've watched again and again and again. If you haven't seen it...or even if you have, watch it now:

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Wellness Wednesday: Nordic Ski Walking at 95

This is a picture of a woman named Agatha Nordic Walking at age 95 originally featured on the Nordic Walking Blog. That inspires me, for sure. I still Nordic Walk, it's just that my distances are limited by my foot problems. However, you'll find me on clear days going up and down, up and back, over and over again on my driveway.

I also wanted to mention (just for the sake of silliness) Japan's Banana Diet Craze. It is Wellness Wednesday. Let's have some fun!

LoveHubbie just got back from an out-of-town trip, so I've been taking care of pre-vacation things here by myself for the last two days. The whole two days of his trip went by, and I'm at a loss for what I did except for errands and things like getting my car fixed, sending off a departing employee, helping with some minor office problems, handling an insurance problem, doing some banking, handling some business on the phone with various doctors, getting my rings cleaned at the jeweler, etc. Stuff that you need to do but that you don't have a lot to show for at the end. Except for that nice feeling that stuff got done and the pile in your head of undone things is a bit smaller.

So this is one of those posts that you post when you really have nothing major to say, but you just want to stay in touch. And I thought Agatha was a great poster woman for wellness, too. Makes me feel like Nordic Walking is a life sport that I'll hopefully be able to continue until I'm 95 as well :) Happy Wellness Wednesday evening!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Reading, Kindle, Book 2.0 and Ludic Reading


On Friday Oprah promoted the Amazon Kindle, her new favorite gadget, something she says has changed her life. One of the exciting things about this ebook reader from my perspective is that the type of screen and the ink used to display on the screen are actually easier on the eye than a real live book. And you can adjust the font size for your reading pleasure and perhaps read without reading glasses. In addition, before buying a book for the Kindle, you can read the first chapter for free, then decide. I'm pretty impressed! FYI, Oprah is offering $50 off the pretty steep $359 pricetag for 5 more days.

In addition, here is an article from Newsweek by Steven Levy called "The Future of Reading". It is in this article that I first read about what the author calls "Book 2.0"---what comes next after we evolve past printed books into the post-Gutenberg era. Right. When I first heard about this, I thought "Never!" and then I spent some time looking into it. Readers and writers, this is information you'll want to know. Here is a quote from the article:

"'The key feature of a book is that it disappears,' he [Jeff Bezos] says. While those who take fetishlike pleasure in physical books may resist the notion, that vanishing act is what makes electronic reading devices into viable competitors to the printed page: a subsuming connection to the author that is really the basis of our book passion. "I've actually asked myself, 'Why do I love these physical objects?' " says Bezos. " 'Why do I love the smell of glue and ink?' The answer is that I associate that smell with all those worlds I have been transported to. What we love is the words and ideas."

Long before there was cyberspace, books led us to a magical nether-zone. "Books are all the dreams we would most like to have, and like dreams they have the power to change consciousness," wrote Victor Nell in a 1988 tome called "Lost in a Book." Nell coined a name for that trancelike state that heavy readers enter when consuming books for pleasure—"ludic reading" (from the Latin ludo, meaning "I play"). Annie Proulx's claim was that an electronic device would never create that hypnotic state. But technologists are disproving that. Bill Hill, Microsoft's point person on e-reading, has delved deep into the mysteries of this lost zone, in an epic quest to best emulate the conditions on a computer. He attempted to frame a "General Theory of Readability," which would demystify the mysteries of ludic reading and why books could uniquely draw you into a rabbit hole of absorption."---Steven Levy in "The Future of Reading"

I'm going to leave you hanging---it's a great article, so please read the rest if you are interested. If you do, you might be as excited as I am about going "down the rabbit hole"! It's mind-blowing...

A very informative video about reading, the future of publishing, and the Kindle can be found here. Page down to "Hear Jeff Bezos, Bestselling Authors, Charlie Rose, and Martha Stewart discuss Kindle" and click on "Hear journalist Charlie Rose talk to Jeff Bezos about Kindle on the Charlie Rose show" to the right of the video. The conversation of Charlie and Jeff will be interesting to all readers, ebook or non. They discuss "improving" on "the book". Wow.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Sacred Life Sunday: Recreating Eden

Today I had a very special Sacred Life Sunday reading Rick's wife's book Recreating Eden. I was a bit nervous about reviewing it, since Rick and I are friends...but knowing how he appreciates honesty, I went ahead with it anyway. Fortunately it was a fantastic experience. Rick's wife is Julia Rogers Hamrick, and Recreating Eden is a truly amazing book. As a former life coach interested in spirituality, I've read a lot of self-help books, personal growth and transformation books, and books about all types of spirituality. Recreating Eden is a keeper---and unique in the genre.

The experience of reading the book is itself an "upper". Positive energy emanates from it. Really. Really! As I read it I just felt GOOD. I spent the last two days reading it and am left with a feeling of limitlessness and bliss. The last time this happened for me was when I read Ram Dass' "Remember, Be Here Now" in the late 70's. Wow. Who else remembers that one? Come on, 'fess up.

So then I reviewed Julia's book for Amazon and joined the crowd of rave reviewers there.

You know how there is a perfect time for each book you read? Well, this was the perfect time in my life for this one.

If you'd like, read my review here.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

For Writer Bloggers

This article by Andrew Sullivan is provocative---it's about blogging as an emerging literary form---and will be of interest to those of you who are writers. It's rather lengthy, but worth the time.

When I have something like this, something that requires time or thought (like Chani's posts), I enjoy printing them out and reading them in a quiet place when I have time...or even sticking them in my purse in case I get caught with unexpected waiting somewhere.

Enjoy.

Friday, October 24, 2008

19



Amazon has changed its reviewer ranking system. Their new system is based upon the overall helpfulness of your reviews, and removes some of the quirks of their past system. People apparently would do all kinds of things to beat the system and pad their votes---things like opening new Amazon accounts just to vote for their own reviews and forming groups for reviewing---now all of this is eliminated in computing the new ranks.



I've been reviewing for Amazon for over 11 years, and have over 1300 reviews; previously my rank was in the top 500, which allowed me to get lots of free things from Amazon, including advance copies of books, lots of free published books, free merchandise like my video camera I use for videos here, a whole year of Seventh Generation's incredible laundry detergent, lots of teas, and more. All the free stuff only started when I cracked the top 500 though...which took about 10 years. Before that, and now, I did it just for the fun of sharing my opinions on various products and books with people who were trying to make buying decisions.

So today, my rank jumped from 313 under the old "classic" system to #19 (which is my favorite number). It is also the day of mine and LoveHubbie's birthday. And under the new system, Amazon keeps track of "fan voters", who are "people who consistently appreciate the author's reviews"---and I have exactly 19 of these. Hmmm...



I'm still in a bit of shock about my jump in the ratings. I guess it will mean more free stuff...and thus, more fun for me!



In the scheme of life, this means very little, of course, but for me it's something to remind me that things can change very quickly in our lives---in all areas---the BIG areas too---very quickly. Someone changes the rules, things shift...and sometimes for the better.

I am keenly aware of the fragility and downside of life, of how things can be going great and then whammo---surprise---you're kicked in the gut---but I'm used to having to work very, very hard for good things. So today I was just thinking that I want to be even more open to good gifts coming from unexpected places. Just in general. To be looking around every corner for nice things to happen.

First I win some love rocks, and now this. Two days in a row. I'm on a roll.

~Photos that are not screen shots were taken at Amazon in Seattle by LoveHubbie Mark

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I Won Some Rocks from the Queen of Arts!


I, who (until today) have never won anything online, have won some rocks from Kim Mailhot, whose blog is Queen of Arts. So it was my lucky day! The picture above is of her creations, including some of her bamboo tile necklaces. For a "Rocking Tutorial" on how to make the painted rocks, please see Kim's post here. You probably have most of the supplies already. And it's fun to pick out the rocks. I am also going to experiment with this technique.

Especially interesting is how Kim uses the rocks in her "Rock My World" love campaign. Read about it here.

Anyway, thank you Kim, and I'll let you all know when I get my rocks and what I do with them :)

~Photo from Kim Mailhot via her blog Queen of Arts

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Sacred Life Sunday: Simplicity, Simple Things

Today has been such a simple, lovely day so far. I have really enjoyed almost basking in the simplicity. So here is a video about my day. I should add a caveat that I noticed as I was editing it that I put my artwork (and occasionally myself) down fairly frequently, so this was a good reminder to me not to do that---either in my head or out loud---but to encourage myself more... Even so, I wanted to share it with you as it enables you to join me in my happy---yes, happy (really)---day!

The video is 8:19 long:

Friday, October 17, 2008

Perfect Consumers...Are We Free?

Today I wanted to share another quote from Kathleen Norris' new book "Acedia & Me: A Marriage, Monks, and a Writer's Life". I'd promised I'd do this back about three weeks ago. This quote is timely in our current economic crisis, and before the election as well.



"Modern conveniences might save people from tedious labor, but they could do nothing to assuage the sense of being in a precarious position in a rapidly changing world. Instead of feeling carefree, many people felt burdened with more and more "necessities," until they were less able to distinguish between needs and wants, between self-indulgence and self-respect. They became, in short, perfect consumers.

Our politicians are fond of telling us we live in a "free country." But they less often invite us to consider what our freedom consists of and what it is for. In asking those questions we touch on a great dissonance in American culture. In her essay "Keeping the Sabbath," Dorothy Bass observes that
"in Deuteronomy the commandment to 'observe the Sabbath day' is tied to the experience of a people newly released from bondage. Slaves cannot take a day off; free people can."

In that light, how many in the world are free? The poor can't risk losing a day of fishing or farming or factory work. The sweatshop manager doesn't provide time off for illness or leisure. And the rich are reluctant to put the brakes on a society that offers such great rewards for greed, ambition, and workaholic habits that erode the spirit." ---Kathleen Norris from "Acedia & Me", pp.122-123 [Emphasis added by me.]


Just something to think about. How free are we, really? I know that relative to other countries we certainly are in many ways (we are SO free!), but not in others (how can you be really free if you can't afford health care for your children? or when you are a slave to your work and you don't even realize it!?!?!). What do you think?

I'm off for the rest of the day to get my teeth cleaned and then hire a new receptionist for LoveHubbie. Tonight I've promised myself I'm going to have blow-out wild and crazy fun. For me, that means reading fiction :) I'm been abstinent for way too long.

I'd like to get some discussion going here as well, too. So...what do you think?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Wellness Wednesday: Making A Difference


I wanted to share with everyone an opportunity to make a difference that I found out about from yertle. Part of being healthy is contributing to others' lives, and though I know we all do this in various ways, this way in particular was especially rewarding to me today.

The opportunity is called DonorsChoose.org and the way it works is that public school teachers put requests into the database for certain supplies, or trips, or visitors, or basically any materials or whatever that they think their students really need, but that they cannot afford. You can review all of the projects and search based on many different criteria. Then you give any amount of money, whatever you can afford, towards a project that appeals to you.

So tonight LoveHubbie and I donated to a school in rural West Virginia that desperately needed dictionaries. Desperately. They had been waiting since May and received nothing until tonight. The requesting teacher was a previous student who had gone to college and come back to teach at the same public school she had attended. This really impressed me. I was so happy! I could just imagine how excited everyone would be, getting something so incidental for a well-funded school---some dictionaries---but actually very huge for their little school. They were all sharing several worn out paperback dictionaries that were 7 years old, falling apart, and actually had chunks missing so that the students never knew if they would be able to look up the words they wanted.

I would have been happy just for the thrill of donating, but the students then send thank you notes. This really is a brilliant idea. Everyone wins.

You can even buy gift cards for a specific amount of money and then give the card to someone who can then pick out which project they wish to donate to. How cool is that?

Check it out, it's such a positive and creative way to help young people!

~Photo via Cute Overload

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Today, Think of Love

I saw this picture on Cute Overload and wanted it on my blog. It made me smile and thought it would do the same for you:



~Photo from Mike B. at Memphis Online via CuteOverload

Where Have I Been?... Lost.



I've missed Sacred Sundays and Wellness Wednesdays and all of the days in between. Where have I been? Right here. Lost in emergencies and problems and taking care of the next urgent thing, as I wrote to Jane, who is losing herself in the same way. It's so easy to do.

For me, when every day is scheduled to the max, and there are no breaks, and days are filled with energy-draining interactions with people, and you decided to stop drinking to support your husband, and you are running... running... running.... you can get lost. Like Jane. Like Nina (wow, she captures this so exquisitely). Like me.

Today is the first day out of many that I've had nothing scheduled and that I've had a chance to stop and think, start to get caught up on blogging, and just be myself. As an introvert, I get recharged from being alone, and at last I have a chance to recharge my batteries. I still feel like I have nothing to say, like I'm an empty well, but I wanted to reconnect and to say...something. To have something here rather than silence.



Lately LoveHubbie has been having a difficult time. Lots of problems and issues and troubles. So our home has been Drama Central. My challenge has been to support him with love while at the same time not be derailed by what he is going through, since they are his issues, not mine. We handle things very differently, and it does me no good to get overly involved and upset to the point where I cannot be supportive or take care of my own life. I am also challenged by rising to respecting his values and approaches to life when they are not congruent with my way of being in the world.

So I find myself at the end of the day, or even through the day...lost...just surviving...wanting to recharge...and now finally, finally, finally---getting that chance.



~Photo of Buddha by LoveHubbie Mark

Friday, October 3, 2008

Think



"Would you rather be right about being powerless or wrong about your ability to be great?"---Unknown

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Sin and Forgiveness

Today, and on a few subsequent days, I want to share some interesting quotes from the book that I blogged about a few days ago---Kathleen Norris' new book "Acedia & Me: A Marriage, Monks, and a Writer's Life". Here is today's quote:
"...to dismiss sin as negative is to demonstrate a failure of imagination. As the writer Garret Keizer asserts in Help: The Original Human Dilemma: "Everyone believes in sin, the people who charge their peers with political incorrectness and the people who regard political correctness as the bogey of a little mind." He adds, "What everyone does not believe in, as nearly as I can tell, is forgiveness." It requires creativity to recognize our faults, and to discern vitures in those we would rather disdain. Forgiveness demands close attention, flexibility, and strigent self-assessment, faculties that are hard to come by as we career blindly into the twenty-first centruy, and are increasingly asked to choose information over knowledge, theory over experience, and certainty over ambiguity."

I'd like to write something more about this, but I'm still pondering. I just have vague impressions, pretty unformed. Impressions about the so-called old-fashioned, definitely politically incorrect, absolutely intolerant concept of "sin" (that's what enlightened folk in our culture believe, of course), and about the in vogue and politically correct but little practiced concept of "forgiveness".

If I say I believe in sin, everyone assumes lots of things about me, right? If I say I believe in forgiveness, everyone assumes lots of other things about me... [and I'm referring to our mainstream Western culture here].

Except sometimes, when it's not okay to believe in forgiveness...as in with abusive or philandering husbands, or with child molesters, leaders of countries, potential leaders of countries, terrorists...then it's okay to hate.

I'm not sure what else to say, but I like thinking about it. I hope you will, too, and share your thoughts with comments.



~Photo by LoveHubbie Mark

Wellness Wednesday: I Am Enough

Kelley's poem from yesterday, and then her post today reminded me of a post I'd done a while ago and something I really, really needed to remember. She writes:
"The truth is I AM enough - we are ALL enough, Divinity lives within each of us, and we don’t even have to look that hard for it, we just have to get quiet, really listen to our hearts and trust in even the faintest whispers of our dreams. We just have to let go of the assumptions and judgements we make about ourselves and the world around us. We just have to open the flood gates, even a tiny little bit, and Divinity will come rushing out for all to see."---Kelley from Dragonfly Reflections


Yes! Yes! Yes!



~ This is a beautiful painting I purchased a while ago by an unknown artist (I can't read her/his name in the signature). It is a poem called "I Am Enough".

UPDATE: I found out who created this: the artist's name is Kristen Jongen and her web site is Soul Soup! Her art work is wonderful and so are her books, so glad to finally "find" her!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Friday, September 26, 2008

Tidbits to Share: Retreats, Getting Hooked, Sacred Art, and Acedia

















I just wanted to share some things with you tonight:

1. Are you looking for a spiritual retreat? Look at this resource, called Find the Divine. It includes retreat properties for sale, plus many other features. Talk about a dream---running a retreat center---I think that many of us would probably like to do that---I know I would.

2. Two posts about "getting hooked" into fear and panic, especially with the economic, cultural, and spiritual climate today. One is Christine Kane's. I found it through Lori-Lyn's blog and Lori-Lyn's story that was written so beautifully called "Apples. Stars". If you have to pick, read Lori-Lyn's.

3. Another is a blog that I've recently rediscovered called "Dragonfly Reflections" by Kelley. She is doing 100 Days of Sacred Art. Kelley was a part of Sacred Life Sundays but I lost track of her blog and was thrilled to find it again.

4. Kathleen Norris' new book "Acedia & Me: A Marriage, Monks, and a Writer's Life". I can SO relate to this book. Acedia is a topic that is difficult to understand---this is one reason that the author has taken an entire book to write an appropriately rambling and profound meditation on it. Acedia is sort of like depression in some ways, except that it's primarily a spiritual condition (unlike depression), but many people suffer from both (like me).

Don't let the four star ratings from many Amazon reviewers discourage you; this is a five star book. Unfortunately, it was put through Amazon's Vine Program early on, a process which tends to distort book ratings. I am a Vine member, and so I know that when people get something for free (which we do), the reviewing audience is different than those that would actually pony up good money for a hardback book. I see the audience for this book as intelligent, thoughtful, and creative people who struggle with depression and melancholy, who have a strong spiritual and psychological approach to life, and who are fascinated by the idea that wisdom from desert monastics could provide interesting insights that would help them to overcome a difficult orientation to life. This is a very personal book, with much autobiographical material as well.

I have been swimming in this book for days, and postponed finishing it because I just don't want to leave behind the insights I get from reading it and the empathy I feel with the author.

5. Tonight I am having a fantastic Friday evening listening to the frogs chirping outside in the forest. Nothing like it.


~Photos from my rose garden, taken by LoveHubbie Mark