Saturday, December 31, 2011

My New Year's Eve

You know when you take on a project like cleaning out a closet that was kind of disorganized, but now you have stuff all over the room and it appears that you are actually making things worse rather than better?

Well sometime in November I was searching job posts and feeling discouraged because nothing resonated. Then I went to a local publisher's website and I saw a posting for a poetry contest. A contest for people living in a limited number of states (one of which is mine), for a full-length poetry manuscript (which I have) and it was free to enter. I sent out my manuscript once (maybe twice?) to contests but I had to pay, I hadn't looked at it for a few years and now I was getting excited. I pulled out my poems with a fresh perspective and realized most of them still held meaning. "There is still something here," I thought. I went through them again pulling some poems out, adding a few and realizing it needed some serious work on sequencing.

I don't know how to sequence poems. Poems are written separately, complete in themselves. How do they go together? There are poems written around my mother's death that clearly belong together, but beyond that?

A couple years ago I decided to branch out in my writing and try a fiction class called - Writing Fairy Tales, Folk Tales and Legends. Fiction scares me, but in this case our first assignment would be to rewrite a traditional tale (changing the setting for example) so it seemed more accessible. Anyway one of the main gifts from the class was completely unexpected. When I shared my fairy tale rewrite (that was okay but nothing I thought had any future potential) the other students made comments on it. As is typical there were probably a few encouraging comments. Then there was the guy who either suggested I add a bunch of commas, or remove a bunch of commas, (I can't remember which I just remember thinking), "I am sharing a draft of a story and you want me to address the commas?!" However, there was one woman who took this story I really didn't even like and made insightful comments about it. She made me look at my own writing again with fresh eyes.

The second (and last) story we wrote in class was our original fairy tale. I was really bummed because I liked this story much better and the woman with the insightful comments was not in class that week. Just today (2 1/2 years later) I realized how this was a gift. I sought her out the next week in class, gave her my story with an envelope and asked if she would be willing to read it and mail it back with her comments. She said yes.

I also really enjoy her writing so we briefly did some editorial exchanges through the mail. I haven't been in contact with her for over a year, but she immediately came to mind as someone to help look over my manuscript. Besides she writes more novel length pieces which require sequencing of events, specifically what I most need help with.

Anyway, she has had it for the past month and emailed yesterday to say it was coming back in the mail. I did not have any plans for New Year's Eve so it is the perfect time to sit and work/play with my poetry. However, as I mentioned starting this out, right now it looks more like the closet whose contents are strewn all over the room. I thought it was pretty close to ready, but now I can see what a mess it still all is!

Anyway my editor (as I will call her because she obviously is one) says she knows nothing about poetry but has made more insightful/helpful comments than anyone else who has seen my writing. She actually spelled out what the themes of my manuscript were: "how to enjoy your life in a meaningful way, how to simplify and get back to nature (possible this is an answer to questions #1), how to go through a relationship, how to be/accept yourself, how to continue on after a mother's death." (I didn't even know my manuscript had themes beyond the mother's death one!)

Also it is tricky - there are a couple poems she suggests cutting that I know are each favorites of other friends of mine. If I felt strongly either way about these poems it would be easy, but I don't. So I have her voice saying, "No," and other voices saying, "Yes," and I have to search for my voice in between.

She also suggested I end with a different poem to sum up the whole thing. The thought of writing something new, some big pinnacle, sounded exhausting. One short poem came to mind as a possibility though that I had cut out of the manuscript. I didn't know if it was what she meant, but it was worth a try so I emailed it to her. I just checked my email and she said,

"Yes! I really like that poem and it really plays into your themes. I think that would be a good poem to end with."

Thank God.

Anyway, I am grateful to be working on this project, that it arrived back today, and that I met someone who I hardly know who is willing to help me for free!

And I'm grateful to the Onion once again - from the Dec 29th, 2011 issue -

Friday, December 23, 2011


#1 - I noticed I a stain on the front of my sweater (I had been clearing out the fridge, some of the moldy jelly I tried to pour out I guess.) I put some water over the spot and it came right out.

#2 - I'm going to the co-op later this afternoon to buy groceries. I expect it to be crazy/busy because that particular co-op is always crazy busy and it is Christmas weekend. However, I feel peaceful/calm enough about my weekend that I am ready to be the calm in the storm (or so I think :).

#3 - I printed out the chords for some Indigo Girls songs this week and it has recharged my guitar playing. I just pulled up a few more that I look forward to trying today.

#4 - Noticing the light in the sky change out the window as a cloud passes over the sun.

#5 - Two books I will be picking up this afternoon from the library - one of Jon Krakauer's new ones and Zeitoun. Books are kind of like dating - they might sound or look good but you never really know if they are - until you spend some time with them. Anyway from the description on World Book Night Zeitoun sounds really interesting,

"The true story of one family, caught between America's two biggest policy disasters: the war on terror and the response to Hurricane Katrina. Abdulrahman and Kathy Zeitoun run a house-painting business in New Orleans. In August of 2005, as Hurricane Katrina approaches, Kathy evacuates with their four young children, leaving Zeitoun to watch over the business. In the days following the storm he travels the city by canoe, feeding abandoned animals and helping elderly neighbors. Then, on September 6th, police officers armed with M-16s arrest Zeitoun in his home. Told with eloquence and compassion, Zeitoun is a riveting account of one family's unthinkable struggle with forces beyond wind and water."

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Happy Solstice

*One of the first things I did this morning (and the past 21 days) is to pull a slip from the advent "calendar," and when I did I noticed I only had four slips left, one was missing! I quickly counted all the slips again. What should I do? Should I skip today? But I wanted to pull one today. But then I wouldn't have one on the 25th. I really wanted another slip.

Well, I turned on my computer to email my friend who initiated this activity. I wanted to let her know I was short, not to complain, but rather to let her know how much I was obviously enjoying this activity because I really wanted my last slip.

I never wrote that email though because I had one message in my inbox. It was from a woman named Elizabeth Harper. She asked people to send her inspirational messages last week which she would seperate into 21 different messages for the solstice. Then she'd label them 1-21 and we'd "intuit" a number to get the messages meant for us.

So instead of emailing my friend, I opened my message (which became my advent slip for the day). It filled me with positive energy and enthusiasm.
Here are a couple of my favorite

**Dear Past: Thank you for your lessons.
Dear Future: I'm READY.
Dear God (or life or whatever you want to call it): Thank you for another chance.

***"At the center of your being, you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want"

Lao Tzu

****I called someone for work today who was angry and frustrated. It wasn't my fault and his frustration was totally understandable, but I still absorbed his energy and no longer felt Ms. Happy Go Lucky Solstice Woman when I got off the phone. So I clicked on a new Jason Mraz video and listened to him sing. One part of me thought, "I should be working right now," another part of me thought, "No, I am clearing my energy so I don't pass this on." And it did. It took two songs and then I felt better and then I looked up

*****and there were beautiful light snowflakes falling from the sky. The first day of Winter snowflakes. (It's MN, but we don't have any snow). It only lasted a moment, within minutes they were gone, but I looked up, so I saw them.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

I love to read.

  • I'm thinking about making the previous link my 2012 book list. It would get me to try some new things, like Ender's Game. Just the cover in itself is enough to make it completely unappealing. However I've already enjoyed five on this list (and tried two more but didn't get into them.) So that would leave two a month for 2012. My goal would not be to read them all, the goal would be to try all the books on the list and hopefully find some unexpected enjoyment.
  • El Mas Hermoso - I was pleasantly surprised by this children's book today. All the animals in the jungle are deciding who will be the next king. The tortoise suggests doing something different and picking the most beautiful. Everyone agrees and goes to make themselves beautiful. The deer thinks he would look great with the lion's mane so he exchanges his antlers for them, and other animals do similar things. But no one wants anything from the camel, the camel knows he is ugly...In the end the camel is chosen as the most beautiful because while everyone else was stressed out trying to look good, a little bird helped the camel see how beautiful his own eyes were and this made him very happy. And the happy animal was the most beautiful! Amen.
  • Well, I've already got three related to books so I will just keep going. I am reading Jesus: What He Really Said and Did by Stephen Mitchell. These are two favorites from today's reading. Jesus said, "How can you say, 'I have kept all the commandments'? Isn't it written in the Torah, You should love your neighbor as yourself? Yet many of your countrymen are dressed in rags and dying of hunger, while your house is filled with abundance, and none of it goes out to them. (81)"
  • A man says to Jesus, "'But if it is possible for you to do anything take pity on us and help us.'
    Jesus said to him, ''If it is possible!' Anything is possible when you believe it is' (66)."

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Discover Inner Peace with Shaun the Sheep

1 - On Sunday I was at a library in a different part of town, a multi-lingual part of town. I figured they would have a good Spanish section there so I browsed. This jumped out at me - El mejor lugar del mundo es aqui mismo. Oh this title in itself brings me such joy. I wasn't even sure I would check out the book, I figured the title in itself was enough. However, I did and it is a delicious read that I have been savoring. I often find myself stopping to absorb, so I am only on page 50 (the pages are very short). Anyway, this book has been a gratitude the last three days so to be specific I will say page 49 which was so delightful I had to stop after reading it. (I don't know that I've ever found a book to be delightful before.)

2 - I just looked it up to see if the library had other titles by the authors. One of the subheadings related to this book is "Peace of Mind -- Fiction."

3 - Well that was a really cool subheading. I clicked on it to see what other books are in the category. I am afraid it is the only one :). However there is also a "Peace of Mind -- Humor" category (it also only has one title). I clicked on that and it was
Feng Shaun : discover inner peace with Shaun the sheep. This is an adult non-fiction book (click on my link and see the cover). I requested it.

4 - It is pretty rare for me to get excited about a guy simply based on looks - maybe because he was good looking AND doing yoga or good looking AND at the Celtic service. Voices, on the other hand, are another matter! I had a completely simple and non-exciting phone call with a man for work today and his voice in itself energized me,

5 - not quite as much as coming across Shaun the sheep though.
El mejor lugar del mundo es aqui mismo
The best place in the world is right here.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Fuji Thrill

Throughout college I often went biking on the gravel roads outside town on my friends' mountain bikes. My bike was at home, a 10-speed I’d bought in 5th grade, not appropriate for gravel. The summer after finishing college, I worked at a camp in Northern Minnesota. My Dad bought me a used bright green mountain bike – my Fuji Thrill.

Last Saturday I went to a Mason Jennings concert. He talked about what led to one of his songs, he reflected on what memories might pop into his mind as his favorites right before he’d die. Almost none (or none) of those memories were of times when he was alone. Standing there in the audience I too tried to scan through favorite memories and found this was not the case for me, I had many where I was alone – unless of course you count my bike.

One that came to mind was during that first summer. All the staff at the summer camp either had Saturday or Sunday off. I’m not exactly sure what everyone else did on those days – I heard the bar mentioned or going to town for a movie. I, on the other hand, would take out my beloved topo map, scout a route and go biking on old logging roads.

This summer was also the first I had my own car and therefore could, in a way, define for myself how and where I wanted to spend my time. Define in a way who I was and what I enjoyed. I don’t have many specific memories from those bike rides, but there are a couple: biking through a bramble of wild blueberry bushes and “discovering” a lake without any lake front property. It is difficult to put words to that last one. The gravel road did not touch the lake; somehow I was drawn to walk through the woods to it. It was at that moment I realized I had “discovered” this lake. There was no lakeshore property, no roads alongside, no trails, no path (except most likely the deer one that led me to it). It was incredibly beautiful. I realized this is how lakes were meant to look and I also realized how rarely I had seen a lake in this way.

The Lake

So though I’ve been on a couple of Sierra club bike rides where people told me, “You are doing a lot of extra work with that heavy bike,” and the squeaking the brakes made was really loud and kind of embarrassing (they worked fine) and I always seemed to move more slowly than almost everyone else, and I pretty much always ride on pavement now – I still haven’t given up my mountain bike.

Then last summer it started having this annoying problem. Whenever I was going up a hill I would have to downshift into a really easy gear or it would slip (which could be dangerous if I was trying to cross a street.) It is probably (?) relatively easy to fix – maybe a new chain, but I don’t know how. Also I’d been thinking about getting a road bike for a while, because it was more work to ride. In 2010 my brother found a road bike he lets me use at the thrift store. So I didn’t end up riding my Fuji Thrill at all this year.

Even though we need to put the bikes in for the winter and it is taking up needed space in the garage, I still didn’t want to get rid of it. I knew I should though, so I did some research about bike donation. I found a place in Minneapolis called Full Cycle that gives paid internships to homeless youth to teach them about bike maintenance. After watching their video my heart became so happy with the thought that this would be my bike’s new home.

So today I am grateful for my bike and all the beautiful places it took me, exercise it gave me, and fresh air it exposed me to. And even more so I am grateful to appreciate this precisely because I am giving it away. Though it feels a little sad, it is through letting go that I can feel how wealthy I am.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Point Positive

I skimmed through my whole blog the other day. I hadn't been keeping track of what poems I'd posted (and therefore are considered "published") and I was making a list. I felt refreshed by all the positive focus I've made the last year and a half, and at the same time knew this is only a partial reflection of who I am. I have been feeling concerned about humanity's future on this planet recently, which comes and goes with time (not that the reasons for concern come and go, it's just that sometimes I get more bogged down in them than others.)

I went river rafting once. It was a pretty tame experience, but there was one piece of wisdom that has stayed with me, "Point positive." We were told to focus on where we wanted the boat to go. We were not to fixate on the large boulder that might be on our path, but rather where we wanted to go instead - where our attention was drawn was where we would end up.

This is a lesson I employ daily in my life, sometimes with more and other times with less success. And I guess ten years later, this is the whole point of this blog.


I have what most people (including myself) would consider an "unimportant" job. When my friend called me today with something important to discuss, it was easy to set aside to listen. In fact, I was grateful that I had neither a conflict of interest nor a moment's hesitation in being able to do so.


The Telling on The Story - one of those positive points today. The first story took me to a place where I stopped everything, simply listened and was moved to tears.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Compound Interest

  • I'm not a big math person, but sometimes (on the rare occasions that I start doing some) I end up enjoying it. Today I was helping my cousin (a college student) with her homework. First we were figuring out annual percentage yields and compounding interests (which made me want to go invest some money). Then we were trying to figure out how much gas would cost at 1970 and 1974 prices with inflation. If our answers were correct the 1970 correlation was close to $5 ($4.75 or something) and the 1974 correlation was over $8.

  • I found that gas question fascinating.

  • While working on the homework my cousin would sometimes start whining about how long this was taking or hard it was or... This was not enjoyable to me. Finally, I told her she needed to start making the math positive or I was going to go do something else. This actually worked really well and she started saying things like, "I'm really looking forward to the next problem." I had to remind her a few times, but overall I enjoyed helping her so much more when her attitude was positive. It was definitely infectious.
  • For the second month in a row there was a very attractive man (who may or may not be single, but at least wasn't there with someone) in a setting that feeds me spiritually (the Celtic service I like.)
  • I asked the woman he sits by, who very conveniently happens to (if you stretch the definition) be an acquaintance, who he is. "He is my son," she said with a big smile.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

People Were Made To Walk

#3071 - I started feeling the desire to get a massage in July, it had been three years since my last. Three months later I was still thinking about it but I hadn't taken action. While volunteering at a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) one of the farmers asked me, "Do you like massages?" I was stunned, all I could say was, "Yes." Maybe she was asking because they were going to give me a massage gift certificate as a thank you gift for the volunteering I'd done this year? And if that was the case, if I could pick any thank you gift, that is the one I would pick! How does that work?

The gift certificate arrived today.

#3072 - I've gone to the same yoga studio for a few years, today is the first time I walked there.

#3073 - The fact that I wanted to walk there and after my class (yoga nap) I wanted to walk home.

#3074 - How powerful the mind/attitude/energy is. I am fascinated by this again and again. For example, not liking my bedroom walls for a few years and then suddenly I decide to I repaint it and it's done within two weeks. Or today - not wanting to walk to yoga for a few years and then suddenly today I do it. It is interesting to me how the only thing we really have to change is our mind, and that doesn't necessarily make it an easy task.

#3075 - "People were made to walk." (Thought I had on my way home.)

Friday, October 28, 2011

Being Seen

  • The autumnal light out my window.
  • An unexciting/unappealing walk through my neighborhood made beautiful by the presence and conversation of a friend.
  • Being seen/known. My friend told my niece she was beautiful and then added, "Tammy won't like that. You're smart too. But I told my boy he was beautiful too, because he was." This was not the first time this friend has known what I would think without my speaking a word. And though I certainly would not have been upset in this instance, the fact that she knew this thought too would cross my mind is a gift.
  • Cracking myself up as I turned my niece back and forth to music as if she were in a music. (I knew how she was going to move, but the expressions that would accompany the movements kept surprising.)
  • Almost giving up on a book because I wasn't that into it, but not having something better to read at the moment it redeemed itself tonight, partially because of the sweet simple romances that have cropped up inside.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Market Instability

  • On the October 25th The Story, episode, it said that the "winner effect" could explain financial market instability and that hormones have an enormous influence on the behavior of traders - a testosterone feedback loop. "It is entirely possible that bubbles are a young male phenomenon, and if that's the case the way to stabilize the market is, you might call it endocrine diversity on the trading floor, which would mean having more women and older men, because they have very different physiologies and hormones than young males." John Coates (former trader now neuroscience researcher)
  • Wow. I've heard a lot of postulating on improving the "market," but this is the first time I actually thought someone had some original and practical ideas!
  • The second half of The Story was about 6 members of an isolated tribe in Papua New Guinea visiting England. I clicked on the link to the documentary and there went my evening, in a unexpected fascinating way.
  • "Why are there more money houses than spirit houses?" asked the chief in England.
  • Why are you doing this, leaving the house every day and not seeing the people you really care about? - another paraphrased question.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Happy Food Day

  • The brave parents (and others) in this video who are standing up for kids who are bullied. This teen committed suicide last month after incessant teasing about being gay.

  • The website where I found that video. I was listening to The Story and it mentioned a neuroscientist who is working on a book about intuition. Interesting! So I clicked on her website and after the briefest of readings, I am grateful for the work she is doing.

  • The breakfast I was looking forward to eating today - yogurt (full-fat), oats, chopped apple, walnuts and raisins. Yum! I started eating this last week because I ran out of cereal and had to come up with something else. Part of the reason it's exciting is my successful reintroduction to apples...usually at this time of year I'm bummed because it will be a long time before I see fresh strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, peaches, nectarines etc. Yeah it's apple and pear season, but it just doesn't live up. However this year I've eaten very few, if any, plain apples in the last six months, so now I'm actually excited about them again.

  • Fresh a movie I watched this evening (about our food), which showed both the sad/depressing parts AND the rockin farmers who are doing things differently. I am a pretty frugal person, except when it comes to food. At times I almost feel apologetic about how much I will spend, despite knowing cheap food is expensive too - we just aren't paying. For example, yesterday I spent $7 on just the spinach for a recipe I made today. I could have modified the recipe or made something else when I realized the price, but with a bit of guilt I bought it. After walking out of the movie today I yelled, "I spent $7 on just the spinach in the meal I made today and I am proud of it!"

  • And a quote which ties my gratitudes together, "mother nature likes diversity in the materials she creates."

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Flying Turtle Flower

  • Today's mandala (draw a circle, set a timer for 20 minutes, doodle - then name it) - Flying Turtle Flower
  • Getting my friend and his child to create mandalas with me.
  • "They smile, otherwise they fall into the waters of confusion," the child describing the images on her mandala.
  • Returning a CD to the library...looking for something to read...not finding anything...seeing a friend of a friend...asking her for a suggestion - My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult
  • Laughing while a baby in mid-air peered around the doorway to the room I was in.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

  • I went to my favorite Fall colors spot yesterday, a small stand of maples near where I live. Usually the leaves that have fallen to the ground are a mix of orange and pink and yellow and red. This year as soon as they left the tree they turned brown... Similarly I was enjoying my Fall harvest on the raspberry bush until the other day when the berries were the opposite of succulent. So for these reasons, I am grateful today that we received a good rain.
  • When my sister-in-law and I came home from yoga my brother was washing diapers.
  • A Prairie Home Companion is taking their show to Europe. Cool.
  • I got this big book of Bob Dylan songs from the library that I've been slowly working through. I'm on p. 260 now. I skip the songs that are obviously too hard for me, but some days it is good motivation to play a little.
  • This message that was sent to me today, "Begin by romancing yourself. Love yourself is you wish to be loved. Cultivate your friendships and be open to romance."

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Thursday, September 29, 2011

There is Another Way

While listening to KFAI (community radio) something on the news headlines made me stop and listen again. (I was listening to an archive show from Tuesday so I could rewind).

The announcer said that the U.S. now supplies 1/2 of all new weapons orders for developing countries and it is the eighth year in a row we will lead the world in global arms deliveries.

#2486 - I am grateful to listen to a radio station that considers this important news.

#2487 - I am grateful for the google search it led to and though I had to go back to 2007 to find a prominent newspaper that thought this was important, I found an article in the NY Times.

#2488 - I am grateful that, according to the aforementioned article, the global weapon sales to developing nations was around $30 billion in 2005 and 2006. Okay right there are $30 dollars that could be used for education or health care. Wala. It's like magic!

#2489 - Then I looked up the world military spending - $1.5 trillion in 2009 according to the Christian Science Monitor. Right there, $1.5 trillion dollars (if say we just took one year off military spending). So I'm going to add the environment to my education and health care spending redirection list.

#2490 - Now I haven't tried to do a mathematical equation with the number 1 trillion for a long time, if ever. I wasn't even certain how many zeros to use. But based on my (please correct me if wrong) calculations, that is about $230 per person/per year (based on a population of 6.5 billion).

So I found the per capita income throughout the world, and in 2009, there were three countries where we could double their per capita income if we just gave them that $230 per person back.

There are 37 countries where people could get a raise of 25% or more for the year if we gave them each (averaged out) their $230 back.

This really could be quite a depressing issue but the fact of the matter is writing this completely energized me, our world is a big ship and it is not necessarily easy to steer it in another direction, but there is no way you can tell me there isn't somewhere else we could choose to go.


Monday, September 26, 2011

How Little I Know

During certain times of the year my father has problems with small woodpeckers or black-capped chickadees pecking holes on two corners of his house. His way of dealing with this has been to put sticky pads in those locations.

Once, a few years ago, I saw a black capped chickadee struggling and stuck in this pad. My dad would not be home for a while so I agonized over what to do for the bird. There was no way the bird would fly again even if taken from the sticky pad. I emailed a woman who was a mentor to me, and one of the most compassionate people I know, asking if/how she would kill it. Knowing the bird would starve to death (at worst) or at best be killed when my dad got home was hard, but my mentor's response (that a shovel would work in this situation) did not come that day. I highly doubt I could have implemented it if it had. Instead, I researched alternative preventative methods (which I emailed my father) and imagined the bird's struggle until I angrily told my father to deal with the bird when he returned.

A few years later my dad still uses the sticky pads and today I found a second bird caught it its mess, a downy woodpecker. Once again my father would not be home for hours. I quickly tried to find a way to free it, trying to be calm and not frighten it too much (if that is even possible). It didn't work and it was clear the wings were badly damaged.

I could leave it to struggle until my dad dealt with it, but that would be late and maybe he'd even wait until the next day. I remembered what my mentor had told me (those are times when a shovel comes in handy) and now I wondered if I could do it.

I remembered my original motive for becoming a vegetarian (though it was actually the crappy meat at college that helped me implement my motive), I thought it was hypocritical for me to eat meat that I wouldn't kill myself.

I also remembered after not eating any meat for four years starting to eat fish again in part because I lived in a place where we taught people where our food came from. There I had seen animals butchered and though it was difficult to watch, I also observed how it was done with respect, reverence even.


Which was what I attempted to bring to downy woodpecker today. I took some deep breaths extracted the sticky pad from the side of the house and placed it on the ground. Then I sat on the step a bit away with a shovel and tried to calm my energy. I did not want to kill this bird filled with fear. It took me a long time and I didn't know if I could do it.

I did.

Afterwards I felt some of my judgment of my father wash away.

I looked up other options for preventing this situation.

I knew today was a blog day and questioned that although this might make a slightly more "riveting" story than what I usually write, if it was exploitative. And I wondered if I would come across self-righteous. And I wondered if I would come across cruel. And, I thought and felt a lot of things I usually don't today. And so though this isn't a typical gratitude of five. They are all in here.

And I am grateful for that little downy woodpecker.


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Quotes from my Journal

In the front and back covers of my journals I write quotes. While looking for something last night in a journal, I was struck by the quotes there. All 12 of them resonated with a similar theme, one that is no less meaningful to me today. So I'd like to share these as my gratitudes.

"What you can plan
is too small
for you to live."

David Whyte

"The fire within is what causes our real family
-those we are always drawn to when we see them-
to identify us."

Malidoma Some

"Living on the edge of a dream is not easy.
It requires a willingness to accept all possibilities."

Maria Housden

"When the right thing happens,
the whole body knows."

Robert Bly

"Let life happen to you.
Believe me.
Life is in the right.

Rainer Maria Rilke

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Jill's Path to Peace

(I sampled a scrumptious plum tree at my aunt's. It was planted in her lilacs by some squirrels.)

  • "Sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast." Lewis Carroll from Through the Looking Glass

  • Picking up a Storyhill CD from the library. It reminds me of college and I realized I will still have it to listen to when I plan to visit my college town later this month.

  • In Oprah's magazine they highlighted a blog of a woman my age who writes about simple anonymous ways she brightens the world. One idea I like was leaving a simple message in library books (on a slip of paper) when you return them.

  • My brother's continual assistance of trying to fix a redirect virus on my computer. (I think after three days he got it!)

  • I'm jumping in off schedule, but I want to share this gratitude, a writing by my friend Jill, so I just wrote them all -

Saturday, September 10, 2011


#2891 - Displaying a new piece of artwork (my second acrylic painting.) Like the first, it was done with the materials and assistance of a second cousin. I picked a much simpler subject this time (a flower). The green background is vibrant next to my orange walls.

#2892 - My Dad's similar sentiments to my own about the 9/11 anniversary.

#2893 - Soon after getting home from my aunt's wanting/needing to play my new song on guitar.

#2894 - Getting my aunt to go to her local farmer's market (where she was very excited about the produce she picked up and some goat's milk.)

#2895 - Asking my aunt what kind of tree was behind her kitchen. "Let me tell you about that tree," she said. "It wasn't growing and I was going to mow over it with the lawn mower." [When I was a child] "You told me, 'You can't do that,' so I didn't, soon after it started growing. Tammy, it has the most glorious flowers in the springtime."

Monday, September 5, 2011

Friday, September 2, 2011

Are There More Butterflies?

  • Some people own very large vehicles, my Dad on the other hand fixes pretty much everything by himself and has never needed one.
  • Over the years my Dad has mellowed and I have become more assertive, so helping him with something like this is certainly less stressful.
  • I used up the cottage cheese. (I'm not a big fan. I bought it for a recipe and I had extra.)
  • Butterflies - Has anyone noticed a large number of butterflies this year? I see them all the time. When I was in CO in July I thought, "They have a lot of butterflies here." Then I returned home and I thought the same thing.
  • Items from the garden - tomato, green pepper, cucumber and pesto (from the basil) making a delicious sandwich.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Dimming of the Day

(I had a visit from Darth Vader last weekend.)

#2811 - Learning that I was correct in my wonderings if I should snip off the tops of the basil plant (where it was starting to seed).

#2812 - Most of the time when I'm biking, I'm biking to "get somewhere." Today while I was doing this I stopped at a parkway just for a moment because it felt peaceful. This pause is I'm guessing why a block or two later the thought popped into my head, "I love riding my bike."

#2813 - I kind of had a weird (unusual) thing happen to me today. I am not going to explain it, but I am grateful that it somehow went around me instead of me getting caught up in it - like water that goes down a side channel instead of through the rapids.

#2814 - I'm reading Black Elk Speaks (as told through John G. Neihardt) and this line stood out to me today.

"Crazy Horse dreamed and went into the world where there is nothing but the spirits of all things. That is the real world that is behind this one, and everything we see here is something like a shadow from that world (85)."

#2815 -"I need you at the dimming of the day" - Dimming of the Day (song) by Alison Krauss & Union Station

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Motivation for Diaper Change

#2671 - There is a large lake near where I live that takes a couple hours to walk around. Some years I have walked around it once a week. Sometimes I love walking by myself. Sometimes I get tired of it. This year I haven't walked around it much, in a good way, I've done other things, but last week when the weather turned cooler it made me long for that long walk, and yet I didn't feel like going alone. I asked a friend that came to mind, thinking it wasn't likely. The last time she took that walk with me she was pregnant, over two years ago. She came though (and as usual she kicked me butt, she walks fast.)

#2672 - I thought this posture in the stroller demonstrated deep relaxation, but I didn't interrupt our walk to take a photo of it. When we finished I grabbed the shot and right after he pulled his foot down.

#2573 - How my friend motivated her child to come for a diaper change. The first time she found a rock in the car (that he had put there) and asked him to come see it. The second time she found two sticks for him to come check out :)

#2574 - That my friend has found more books she doesn't want to put down (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series).

#2575 - That she took two cucumbers home with her. (I gave three to my soccer team on Sunday but I am still overwhelmed by the production of our single cucumber plant!)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Cardinal - Omnivore

#2631 & 2632 - Going to an outdoor yoga class. The fact that it was outdoors motivated me to go in the first place and being in a different setting made familiar poses new.

#2633 - I've felt peaceful today. I'm attributing this to the weather which is still with occasional light breezes and a quietness in the air.

#2634 - The active bird life in my backyard and learning that a cardinal is an omnivore because I saw one with a dragonfly (or some large flying insect) in its mouth.

#2635 - Using greywater -s o water from your shower, washing machine etc, (when you don't use harmful soaps) to water plants etc. This was featured on The Story (radio program) I listened to today.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Poetry and the Thrift Store

Just want to mention a beautiful video my friend sent - a woman sews poetry into thrift store clothing. The poems are short, just one line and look just like an instruction tag, but beauty many ways.

Monday, August 1, 2011

New Weekly Schedule

  • Finding some websites that articulated much better than I could why I don't use plastic water bottles. (I couldn't explain it well to a friend on Saturday).
  • Using this website that lets you find a radius to a location on a map for work. The supposed "free" website would at certain (unpredictable) instances take you to an ad. It reminded me how it might feel to sit at a roulette table - would something suddenly happen? It was suspenseful (tiring but engaging).
  • I tried freezing some yogurt with fruit in it, inspired by a friend. Interesting.
  • After taking a break from the computer while visiting friends recently, I wondered if I wanted to post less often. Why we do things is so tricky at times. I remember a prominent yoga teacher, Shiva Rea, saying once that what frees us can also become our prison. Right around the time I was thinking about this Jason Mraz (my favorite blogger) wrote that he was taking a break.
  • I still wondered about it though, then when I thought about posting about once a week (rotating the day I write) - I felt a deep feeling of peace.
So that is the new plan.

Friday, July 29, 2011


- "you are so funny i almost peed my pants reading that" - my pre-teen cousin's response to an email I sent her.

- I made pesto for the first time.

- I played the guitar for my niece and I think she was dancing (or waving her arms and legs because that is what babies do).

- My friend's kickstarter (CD) project got funded.

- The white shirt I wore today which feels summery and refreshing.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Online Dating

- My father taking action on a request I made a little over a month ago (he agreed in the moment, but I figured I would need to remind him.)

- Tempeh Reuben - a sandwich I enjoy at restaurants. I found a recipe in a cookbook from the library and made it today. (It involves sauerkraut which I don't know if I've ever bought before.) It was yummi.

- I read an article in the New Yorker today on online dating. Three interesting tidbits...

"Rudder, for his part, has determined that Republicans have more in common with Republicans than Democrats have in common with Democrats, which led him to conclude, “The Democrats are doomed.”

This reminds me of a friend who is in an interfaith dialogue group. He says that the biggest disagreements in the group are not between religions but between the fellow Christians.

"OK Cupid has also analyzed couples who have met on the site and have since left it. Of the 34,620 couples the site has analyzed, the casual first-date question whose shared answer was most likely to signal a shot at longevity (beyond the purview of OK Cupid, anyway) was “Do you like horror movies?"

Maybe I should start asking this?

This last one is my favorite, and at least for me, completely accurate.

"Rudder has discovered, for example, that the answer to the question “Do you like the taste of beer?” is more predictive than any other of whether you’re willing to have sex on a first date. (That is, people on OK Cupid who have answered yes to one are likely to have answered yes to the other.)"

Read more

Monday, July 11, 2011


I never bought a bouquet of flowers in my life until the Farmer's Market Saturday when I saw these and felt drawn towards them. Now they are sitting right beside me as I type this (and typing this gratitude is reminding me to look up from the screen and at the flowers!)

Listening to a friend's catechism and Lord's Prayer recordings on the internet (he is a pastor). They brought a smile to my face (specifically Small Catechism Lord's Prayer #7).

That he is using his musical creativity in his profession.

Listening to The Story, I was touched by a moment of connection in the one about American rock climbers climbing in Iran. I can't even remember what it was exactly, I just know the human connection touched me.

I've been sitting here for 15 minutes trying to come up with one more gratitude. Gratitude practice...think small, is what I always have to say in these situations. So here it is, that my friend remembered to email me a phone number I wanted without me reminding her. HA! Got it.

Friday, July 8, 2011


In rethinking how we might create our world - there could be a lot of new career options. For example, there is a woman who calls herself a "Joyologist". She might be one of the first, because if you google it she will come up pretty fast, but I certainly believe and hope she won't be the last.

Anyway, tonight I was thinking one of my careers might be as a "Reminderer," doesn't have quite the ring of "Joyologist," but it's the word I've got for now. This is my first draft of my job description - the things I would remind you of -


*What You Have
*To Search For and See Beauty
*What Matters
*You Don't Have to Travel Far to Feel Like You Are in a New World
*To Practice Gratitude
*Take Care of Your Health - It is Important because You Are Important
*Enjoy Nature
*Find Something You Enjoy that Creates Space
*What Wealth is, Looks Like and Feels Like

This might seem a little out there, but upon further reflection a lot of money is paid daily to remind us:

*of what we don't have
*of what is missing
*to buy things
*to take pills
*of what will help make - our hair shine, our teeth white, our skin clear, our legs smooth...

Since there is a whole industry based on these reminders - a whole industry that at one point in time not too long ago didn't exist. This whole industry was somehow dreamed into existence. Tonight I am dreaming another one.


There could be daily reminders, for example,

If you happen to be blessed enough to live a reasonable distance from a relatively clean body of water,
I would like to remind you to

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Buddha's Jewels

This yummi dinner, "Buddha's Jewels" and "Armenian Green Beans."

The New Recipes from the Moosewood cookbook where I got the previous recipes.

Opening my principal food storage cupboard, easily finding what I wanted and not having things trying to fall out.
(I organized it yesterday.)

Having parsley in the garden.
Whenever I buy parsley for a recipe it almost always calls for 1/4 cup (exactly what the recipe called for today) and then I have this whole thing of extra parsley that often isn't used. That is why parsley I find to be a very useful item to have a small plant of in the garden.

How soft my hair feels today.
(I have concluded this is because I went swimming yesterday, in a lake, and have not washed my hair since. A similar thing happened previously this Summer, thank you lake water.)

Saturday, July 2, 2011


(Did you know that unlike woodland wildflowers that bloom in the Spring, most prairie wildflower bloom in the Summer?)
  • Learning that a friend of mine who goes on an annual retreat (and is the only person I know who consistently makes such a thing a priority in her life), does so because of a visit she made to where I lived ten years ago. She said it was because of that experience that she felt brave/interested enough to try Clare's Well.Link
  • This friend and I went to the beach today and we both (without planning) brought snacks to share. She brought strawberries, cherry tomatoes, goat cheese, and cracker-bread. I brought strawberries and sugar snap peas.
  • Feeling comfortable to stop at a friend's unannounced. She shared a song she was memorizing today for a wedding, I shared a poem I memorized last week.
  • Hanging out with the baby. I didn't spend much time with her at first, but today and an evening earlier this week she literally hung out in a sling I was wearing :)
  • That I follow through on self-imposed deadlines. I had something that needed to be done by the 15th, I sent it in today.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


This photo which turned out so well, and is my desktop background of the moment.

Being given these strawberries (in fact twice what is photographed).

Adding blueberries and cut-up strawberries to full-fat yogurt. Then (this is key), letting the flavors mingle for a while. Yummi!

Sampling a strawberry basil popsicle.

I'm trying to get a 5th one about strawberries, but it just isn't happening...I was pretty concerned about the birch tree outside my bedroom window this spring. It lost a big limb (sometime in the last year I forget) and when spring arrived it was almost gushing from the wound. It just kept dripping and then there was all this oozing all along the trunk. It just didn't look good.

Today I was startled when a branch fell from the tree, a dead one - no leaves. I looked at the rest of the tree full of green health and remembered my concern (that I'd forgotten) because it is no longer there.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

It's All Matt

I've known my friend Matt for over ten years, but it wasn't until today that I played a game of soccer with him.
  • After asking Matt to sub on occasion for a few years, today he finally could.
  • I was happy to play with him no matter what. The bonus is, he is actually quite good.
  • And I am not at all surprised by this, but he is the unselfish kind of good, the kind that includes everyone in the play.
  • I am 90% sure he agreed to join our team next session.
  • Which means instead of seeing him once a year, I'll see him almost weekly.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


#2291 - Trying to explain "retreats" to my Japanese sister-in-law. "What are they? Are they common?" she asked. They seemed common to her based on things I'd said about my friends. I tried to think of a correlation... I explained that a fair number of my friends do not have televisions in their main living room, but that doesn't mean this is typical in the U.S. Similarly a fair number of my friends might go or have gone on a retreat, but I don't think most Americans do.

It was cute and challenging to explain this term.

#2292 - Finishing reading the Lorax (helping someone practice her English with an excellent book).

#2293 - Ok, I am stuck after my first two gratitudes today - How about the weather? I am grateful that in general I am content with the weather and that today is a cool day, which many people would complain about, and I like it.

#2294 - How about - I was upset about something on Tuesday. I went over to a friend's house, laid on his couch and started crying. Two days later, the strongest part of my memory is not what I was upset about, but how sweetly my friend rubbed my shoulder and let me cry.

#2295 - I cannot find the cord that I use to attach the camera to the computer - hence I have not put photos on here a while. Maybe instead of getting frustrated again with not posting a photo, I could just take it as a "photo-free adventure"?

Monday, June 20, 2011

There Might Be A Message

Three musicians I discovered today while listening to Womenfolk. I listened to the last two songs at least five times each.

#2276 - Vanessa Lively
#2277 - Raina Rose "If You're Gonna Go"
#2278 - Amy Speace "Drive All Night"

#2279 - After my last big concert (which was Jason Mraz), I decided, "I am done with big concerts." They cost more and I enjoy them less!

However I find it a challenge to know about/find people I like playing in smaller venues. I just looked up the three musicians today and one is coming soon - $8. I put it on my calendar, maybe I'll go, maybe I won't...

#2280 - Someone called asking for my mother, which means she is around (even though she isn't). I need to pay attention. There might be a message :)

Friday, June 17, 2011

Not in Top 1000

  • Wearing a dress in public that I thought I would never wear in public (not because it is revealing, but rather it reminds me of a dress from Alice in Wonderland, a bit silly.)
  • I just looked and the name my brother and sister-in-law picked for their baby has not been in the top 1000 in the U.S in the last ten years! I don't quite connect the name to her yet, she's still Piko-chan (her in utero nickname).
  • That there are libraries almost everywhere. You can make wherever you need to go, or in my case today need to drop someone off, near a library.
  • Seeing someone who reminded me of a friend of mine (from the back), simple warmth.
  • We have "yoga challenge cards" at the studio where I go. The owner puts them together and about 1/2 have to do with yoga and the other half are just cool things. One of them on the current card is to save your #5 plastics (yogurt containers etc) and drop them off at the appropriate place (like Whole Foods). This is part of an email I received today (I get staff emails since I clean there).

"A student told me she really had an “AHA!” moment when she started saving her clamshells—she realized how many she was tossing in the landfill. Two places I know take them are Whole Foods and Eastside Coop (special hours). Wonderful. We just HAVE to cut down on the single use plastics!!"

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Just Call Me MacGyver

#2546 - Working at the library today I needed a pencil and an eraser (not a pen which is what I had). The library has those little stump pencils, so that worked. But what about an eraser? I checked my backpack again and found....a rubber band. Rubber = eraser. I erased away.

#2547 - On the way to the library a neighbor, my father's age, who I've never known personally asked, "What is your profession?" I'm pretty sure we both said hello first, but I don't think there were any other words than this. (This is why I don't talk to my neighbors :).

Anyway, I said, "I don't really have a profession...."and started to say a little more but she interrupted,

"What is your degree?"

"Elementary Education."

"So are you looking for teaching jobs?" The conversation progressed a bit from there.. Then she asked similar questions about my brother. :)

Thank God I was in a positive secure mood because I found the whole thing more humorous than intrusive. I do think it is an intrusive aspect of our culture that we want to immediately know people's occupations. What if we said, "Hello, how much money do you make?" or "Hello, do I value what you do to earn money?" To me, these all are more or less the same question.

#2548 - Which reminds me of a conversation I overheard my brother having with his friend recently. His friend was asking if he recognized the language a couple people were speaking at their pick-up soccer game. Then they got into a discussion about asking people where they are from and how often asking a non-white person where they are from includes a connotation of them being "other," asking because they are obviously not from "here." My brother was saying how that question is too easy.

"Well, what questions would you ask if you wanted to get to know someone," his friend asked.

"Do you speak any other languages? Have you ever flown in a plane? Do you like spicy food?" These were the questions I remember my brother rattling off of the top of his head, there were more,

and I really respect him for that.

#2549 - At three am this morning I woke up. You could say I woke up from the toilet flushing, because it did, but that does not usually wake me up.

In my head I heard this song -

Here I am Lord
It is I Lord
I have heard you calling in the night
I will go Lord
If you lead me...

And I started wondering if I should get up? It was 3am and I wasn't thinking clearly and so I had to listen to the song playing in my head again.

Here I am Lord
It is I Lord
I have heard you calling in the night
I will go Lord
If you lead me...

Obviously! So I got up and there was my sister-in-law, sitting by herself in the living room, in very early stages of labor. I had her lay down and did Reiki on for about an hour and she relaxed and rested.

#2550 - I just looked up reiki to link it and realized it originated in Japan, just like my sister-in-law! :)

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Sunscreen continued

#2531 - Recently a woman I took a writing class a few years ago with started sending out weekly writing prompts. This week's involved, "Everybody's Free to Wear Sunscreen" (see my previous post). Isn't that a little weird? I think I'm supposed to write this one.

#2532 - It is often difficult to talk about death, even though everybody dies. I wanted to talk to my father about who he wants handling his finances and tell him that if it is me, I do not feel prepared for the job (have the info). Anyway, I prayed that I could find a gentle supported way to bring this up, and it happened.

#2533 - The card I made for my cousin's friend's birthday (while she was making one too.) It was actually a bit humorous.

#2534 - Giving a gift that I have been putting together for at least ten years (my cousin's graduation present).

#2535 - Finding something genuine to talk about briefly (running) with a relative I've never had luck conversing with before.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


#2521 - Getting up early and baking rhubarb muffins (motivated by the fact they were in part a gift.)

#2522 - This was the first time I've used the rhubarb in the back yard.

#2523 - The muffins actually tasted really good despite containing only 1/3 c. honey (with the 3 c. rhubarb). One of the reasons I hadn't made anything with the rhubarb being I thought I'd have to douse it in sugar.

#2524 - Remember that song that was a spoken word advice essay with music in the background "Wear Sunscreen?... If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it...."

In the current issue of Consumer Reports they have ratings of sunscreens, and I wondered if they would follow this advice unequivocally. I am grateful to have found this -

"Almost every tested sunscreen contains some ingredients associated with adverse health effects in animal studies....Retinyl palmitate (look for it among inactive ingredients), a type of topical vitamin A, is an antioxidant that animal studies have linked to an increased risk of skin cancers."

Ha! The irony of humans! (I'm grateful this is at least being mentioned.)

#2525 - Plow - I went into this yoga move/stretch today for some reason. Usually I can't get my feet to the floor (over my head laying on my back). Once in a while I can, but if I do it is never really comfortable. Anyway, today I felt the impulse to try it and not only did my feet touch but it felt really good!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Lovin' the Mud

(My favorite part of a project I helped my Dad with yesterday.)

#2406 - The quiche and black eyed pea salad I had for lunch at a friend's.

#2407 - My friend's child being captivated by opening and closing the front door for a long time. (Which reminded me of being so bored at Menard's as a kid, then having fun playing in all the doors.)

#2408 - I initiated a search for flowers. Instead of noticing the bright orange ones 12 feet away, this two year old pointed out the one I'd overlooked - the clover - at our feet.

#2409 - When I told this almost two year old it was snack time, he requested blueberries :).

#2510 - The amazing lack of annoying small talk on my soccer team. I've played with them almost two years now, they still know extremely little about me. But there are other ways of knowing people besides a list of facts. I thought about this today because one of them asked if I had any plans for the summer. I realized I don't often have to answer questions at soccer, and when I do, they are sincere.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Gentle, Quiet

I thought I had much to write today, but now I am simply feeling really quiet and not in the mood for briefly
  • this quiet and the quiet outside that matches it, with an occasional gentle breeze
  • simple evening watering of plants and successful strawberry transplants
  • a rhubarb bar - dessert

Monday, May 30, 2011


#2376 - A couple quotes from Jason Mraz's blog which he got from someone else's blog

“It is only when we no longer compulsively need someone that we can have a real relationship with them.”
- Anthony Storr, was an English psychiatrist and author.

“It hurts to love someone and not be loved in return, but what is more painful is to love someone and never find the courage to let that person know how you feel.”
- Anonymous

#2377 - I'm getting into this novel called Driftless by David Rhodes

#2378 - Feeling proud of myself for a phone call I made Saturday.

#2379 - I've mostly laid around resting this weekend with a strong cold. Today I wanted to get outside a little at least so I took my brother's mother-in-law to a nature area for a short walk. If I had felt completely well, I would have gone on a longer run/walk this morning and I'm sure would not have done this. So something missed and something gained.

#2380 - She and I do not share a common language. All our conversations previously have involved a translator. Since we were alone today, we spoke little. When she saw these little cones on a pine tree she said, "Pineapple," and I laughed and understood.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Bonnie Singman

#2361 - These beautiful books from one of my favorite poets - Bonnie Singman arrived.

(My all-time favorite poet is Rumi. One day my friend called me and read a poem. Then he said, "Who is it?"

I guessed, "Rumi."

He said, "No, it's Bonnie." Bonnie also happens to be our friend.)

#2362 - I shared my excitement, and a couple of the poems, with my sister-in-law and her mother.

#2363 - Yesterday I had the impulse that two friends of mine could have lunch. They don't know each other. I have no idea why I had this impulse, but that is not for me to determine. My job is to be open and share it, even if they thought it silly and rejected the idea. I was happy to find out they were open to it. Then today I discovered not only that but they have taken steps to schedule a time. It gives me great joy that they are willing to follow-through on my impulse!

#2364 - I'm not feeling that well today, so I'm glad I don''t have much planned this weekend and can be flexible with what I do (like the day I clean the yoga studio for example.)

#2365 - If anyone found the heading to my last post confusing, it was because I wondered what happened to my only (to my knowledge) person I don't know who reads this. She also has a blog, I often found inspiring, touching and authentic, which disappeared as did her profile. But she answered my "Stephanie???" inquiry with a comment, so she hasn't totally disappeared.