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 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

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 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.


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!

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 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:

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,


~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 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