Monday, December 31, 2012

Sunday, December 23, 2012

When Patterns are Broken

#1 - You know the difference between sitting next to someone you are really comfortable with and someone you either aren’t or don’t know? How for example, if your bodies touch in the latter case you automatically pull away? I woke up from a series of dreams this morning, in two of which I was in public places next to a man I didn’t know and our bodies unintentionally touched. Neither of us pulled away and it felt natural and comfortable and beautiful.

#2 - In another one of the story lines I was going back to college for my fifth year. I wasn’t sure why I was going back, I thought I had finished but it was what I usually did and I didn’t know what else to do. I didn’t know what I was going to do there either though, and doubted if I should be paying for another semester.

I left this storyline completely for a while and went to the aforementioned dreams and more, but I returned to it in the last segment before I woke. I tried to figure out if my friends were back and two of my friends were, which was somewhat reassuring, but I still wasn’t sure what I would do there and if I should be enrolled. I went up to my new dorm room feeling uncertainty and anxiousness. My roommate was there talking to another friend and as I looked out the north facing window I could see the countryside framed by two brick buildings. In the setting sunlight they resembled rock formations in Utah. The scene was so beautiful I started to cry, both in my dream and in my real life.

#3 - This is how I woke up.

#4 - Dreams have made me cry before, but not because I saw something of beauty. When I got my hair cut recently there was a quote on the mirror in front of my chair that said, “When patterns are broken, new worlds emerge.” Tuli Kupferberg

#5 - Taking the time to write this, which meant taking the time to acknowledge it.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Base of Something

#1 - Despite raining much of the day we still have a base layer of snow, well maybe ice, but it's something.

#2- There was a man creeping me out at the store today and I totally trusted my gut on this.

#3 - I sewed or darned?(nope I just looked it up, I maybe should have darned but I don't have yarn so I sewed) holes in three sweaters today.

#4 - I had a can of sardines that I bought when on sale at some point (not something I usually buy.) I pulled it out tonight and the package suggested using it in your cheese melt. So I put it on some pizza dough crust with cheese in the toaster oven and it was quite a yummi dinner.

#5 - I really didn't feel like turning on the computer to write these and I could only think of gratitude #1 before I sat down, but now I think - of course trusting myself, and mending something and my dinner are things to be grateful for.

Friday, December 7, 2012

This is My Way

#1 - Thinking to myself, "I love children," as I helped a child shop for holiday gifts for her family. I was volunteering at an event where kids buy an inexpensive ticket that allows them to shop for five family members for the holidays. I was reminded today how multi-layered we all are. I always test on the introverted end of Meyers Briggs, but that does not account for how I act around children, and it's fun to feel my more extroverted side come to light.

#2 - Once we got the tables all set up the donated gifts looked beautiful. It is a very fulfilling volunteer experience even for someone who neither likes shopping or the consumerism of the holidays.

#3 - The gift sale is a complex coordination event and the woman who is in charge handles it with grace and ease.

#4 - Coming home to a yummi pasta dish prepared by my sister-in-law and specifically trying to pick out the broccoli pieces into my bowl because they were my favorite part.

#5 - Wednesday evening I played my brand new song for a friend. He said I should record it. I shook off the suggestion.

Less than 24 hours later I had the impulse to record this video for my gratitude blog.

I saw a bumper sticker that said, "If you don't ever change your mind how can you be sure you have one?" video debut

Bonus - this means I've fulfilled "Do something every day that scares you," two days in a row, yesterday recording this, today posting it.

Thursday, November 29, 2012


- It is only once a week and I rarely stay up late, but still, every Thursday morning when my alarm wakes me for a 6am yoga class...and then I look and it is 5:35am and I am still in bed, I wonder how I get there.

You know how a child learns to whine or plead based on their effectiveness. If it won't get them anywhere, they will give in relatively soon, but if they learn that persistence pays off, they may continue, relentlessly. I think it is the same way in my brain. My mind puts up a bit of resistance every Thursday morning, but since I've never planned to go and then changed my mind, it is minimal and easily overcome.

- Once I am out the door it is gone, I look up at the dark sky and the beautiful moon, I arrive and as I'm stretching I'm thinking about this, about I am grateful that my obstacle is minimal.  I'd prefer to have a quiet mind in yoga class, but if my mind is going to be occupied with something, writing/thinking about something I'm grateful for isn't a bad start.

- I found a ride home for the event tomorrow. "Scientists say that 350 parts per million CO2 in the atmosphere is the safe limit for humanity."  It felt pretty lame/pointless to not be able to take public transit and/or carpool to an event focused on climate change.

- I've made it to 5000 Gratitudes!   I started March 1st 2010 and last week I took a long walk and remembered that I wanted to note my 5000th gratitude and that it should be coming up soon.  I'm not sure why I made the math so complex to figure this out, there must be a simple algebraic equation, but I think it is today.  

"The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek."

 Joseph Campbell

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Phantom Tollbooth

#1 - There is show on public radio called "The Story" that I have listened to on a regular basis for a couple years now. I estimate that is close to 500 shows I've listened to and today is the first time I felt inspired to comment on the program.

#2 - For my second gratitude let's play a little game - Guess what is the topic of the program that inspired my need to contribute to the conversation? My sister-in-law got it on the third guess.

Take the time to do this now, I am serious we are playing a game here, I'm just looking for a general subject area. :)

#3 - I stopped numbering these a while ago because I kept getting the numbering messed up switching from my journal back to here. However, I wanted to note when I reached 5000 gratitudes. I haven't thought about this for quite a while, but on a walk today I was reminded and started doing a much of math in my head. I realized I am QUITE close (end of next week.) I'm happy I didn't miss it. I kept going on a math tangent and I laughed when I realized if I do this until my late 80's, I could reach 100,000. Finally I have something concrete to tell people when they wonder what I am doing with my life!

#4 - Something I found in my 2009 journal the other day written by a friend. It feels reassuring to me to read.

"Indeed it can seem like a lot of work to get a prayer up to God effectively. It's like trying to rank your website on the first page of Google. After God has assessed whether you are serious or not - whether you are communicating a heartfelt message or are just trying to spam him - He will send an appropriate response back to Earth. If your prayer has really been earnest, and God is impressed, He will sometimes suspend the humanly imagined limits of what is possible, and get back to you with a personal response. This is called a miracle. It's equivalent to getting a date with someone you feel is really out of your league. You know you're not worthy, but you're just so happy that the universe can be so good sometimes. You can hardly handle it because it's so blissful and makes the rest of your life just seem more or less to have been a waste of time! Why were you sitting on the couch for so long being depressed when such a great occurrence as this was possible? Who knows. But I guess if it weren't for all that couch sitting time put in, this moment wouldn't have arrived, and this miracle wouldn't have occurred. So I guess it's okay that all that couch sitting took place." Jed

#5 - This is the commentary I emailed to The Story.

"I spent a year as a teacher-in-residence outside of San Francisco teaching people where their food comes from. We had a 1 acre organic garden, as well as a few goats and sheep, 30 or so chicken etc. For half of my year the chickens were my daily chore. They were kept in a coop at night, but free to roam as far as their search for interesting food would take them during the day. During that year, I witnessed for the first time a chicken, and then a sheep that were slaughtered. I cried. Nobody tried to tell me this wasn't okay. I also was able to observe salmon swimming upstream in their natural habitat and the enormous life energy that requires. Despite arriving as a strict vegetarian, I left with a more open mind. Growing up in the city I was removed from the cycle of life, and I'd never witnessed people who deeply respected it also slaughtering and eating meat. It seems to me we need more reverence to life all the way around, that sometimes the animal rights groups are in such a state of reaction and anger that it makes it difficult to see this is what they long for too. It is no doubt their feelings are justified, we hide an often atrocious food system both in its environmental impact and its treatment of animals. However, it seems that because that system is so big and powerful it is easier to attack the smaller and often much more humane players."

So if you guessed the topic was FOOD - you got it right :).

P.S. If you are looking for a delightful read I recommend The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. I checked it out for Thanksgiving weekend, but after being hooked by the first three sentences I couldn't wait that long to finish it.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

It Only Takes One

#1-3 Today I volunteered with GOTV (Get Out the Vote) Most people I talked to had already voted or were on their way to vote and they didn't need a ride. One older man however peered at me after I knocked from behind his door, smoking a cigarette.

"Hi my name is Tammy. I'm out volunteering with the No vote on the marriage amendment. Have you voted yet?"

"No." He didn't look that interested, but I continued.

"Would you like a ride to vote?"

"Too long to stand." He said.

"Well, it's mid-morning now so it is a good time of day to go, the line shouldn't be bad. I can give you a rider over right now."

"How will I get home?" he asked.

"I'll wait for you to vote and bring you back."


"Great! I'll go get the car which is on the next block and pick you up in five minutes or so."


I ran down the street to find my door-knocking partner, "I've got a voter that needs a ride!"


When I picked up John (I'm changing his name), he told me he doesn't drive anymore. His polling place was fairly far from his house, certainly for someone who has some mobility challenges.

John said last election he waited in line a long time. "What time of day did you go?" I asked.


Well, he was right. We got to the polling place and the line snaked around the corner. I knew they had to make accommodations for ability (or believed they did anyway.) So we went in the exit door and I spoke to one of the election judges.

"I brought a man to vote who has difficulty standing."

"We can either bring a ballot out to the car or we can ask the people in line if they will let him in."

"Well, he's right here." I brought the judge over to John who was standing hesitantly at the door. "Whatever would work best is fine."

So John was brought to a table where he could sit and vote. I have a feeling that even if John knew he could do that, it would have been hard for him to ask I, however, was happy to do it.

When I dropped John off I said,

"Thank you so much for making my morning worthwhile." It was highly unlikely that he would have made it to the polls if I (or someone else) hadn't knocked on his door.

"Thank you," he replied.

#4 - Even though by the end of the day I felt I was just being annoying, "Did you vote yet?" I was still glad to be a participant in the events of the day.

#5 - This song came on the radio on the way home and it was exactly what I needed.

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Big Fix

#1 - I door-knocked for my state representative and senate election, something I've been meaning to do.

#2 - In general it seems I usually get around to what I mean to, even if takes a while.

#3 - Telling people where their polling place is located. Most people already knew, but at least a few didn't. Even when they are voting for the opponent, I still had something to offer.

#4 - After the oil spill in the gulf, one of my "green investments" (where I have a retirement account) wrote an article in their newsletter about Nalco (Ecolab). Nalco made a dispersant used in the spill and the mutual fund was defending the use of this product. This was already my least favorite of my retirement accounts and that solidified it. Since then I have avoided putting more money in this account.

This weekend I watched a movie "The Big Fix" about the BP oil spill and became reinvigorated in my distrust/disgust in the use of the dispersants. I looked at my investments and was dismayed to see a second retirement fund also is invested in Ecolab.

So I sent them an email -

"I watched a movie last night called the Big Fix about the BP oil spill in the gulf. What was worse than the spill itself is the Corexit which was used so things don't look bad. The blatant coverup revealed throughout that film is devastating. I knew that one of my "green" investments had written in their newsletter after the spill about Nalco and were defending the investment. Since then I have not put any money in that fund. However, today I am renewed in my confusion as to why an "ecological" investment would support such a company. I decided to check if any of my other investments had Nalco (which is owned by Ecolab) and unfortunately {the mutual fund I was writing to} does. Has {the mutual fund name} put any investigation time or pressure on Ecolab in relation to this product and how it was used?

Thank you so much for the work you do,


This is part of the response I received

"... We're well aware of the situation you describe and have been in conversation with Ecolab for some time regarding the topic you bring to our attention...concerns were raised after Ecolab’s 2011 acquisition of Nalco. This acquisition almost doubled Ecolab's ingredient portfolio...Recognizing the increased ecological risk of Ecolab’s product portfolio we are currently working to set up a face to face meeting before the end of the calendar year. After our meeting, we will reevaluate our position in Ecolab."


Now I suppose I should write the company that defended Nalco, I'm guessing that response will be less encouraging.

#5 - "A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in." Greek Proverb

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Thoughts on Marriage

Today I did my first phone calling in opposition to the amendment that would define valid marriage as only between one man and one woman in Minnesota. I'd already done door-knocking and prefer being outside and seeing people face to face, but they have a lot more phone call opportunities and the time worked better this week.

There really didn't seem to be much I could do to sway the first woman who spoke with me, she said her aunt was gay and had been in a committed relationship for 30 years. One partner in the couple worked for the school system which now recognized their partnership and provided health coverage for them both. So apparently the woman's aunt didn't really care much about the vote. If her gay aunt, in a partnership for 30 years didn't care, I doubted I could do much to convince her it was important. I offered the story told by my partner in training this morning, his cousin had been in the hospital with meningitis and his cousin's partner of 7 years was not allowed to see him much. However, he, as a cousin, could.

#1 - I'm grateful that the woman took the time to dialog with me and agreed my last point was a problem.

#2 - The man who began our conversation by saying his viewpoint was personal (he didn't want to share what he thought). I said something like I feel that way too, but I also really care about this so I am making the effort to do something uncomfortable. The man later admitted he was undecided about the vote and that no one in his life was talking about it. I asked if he knew gay people. He did, but none of them were close to him or people he felt he could ask how they felt about this. We talked for a while and at the end of the conversation he said he would "probably vote no". You would think that would be my gratitude, but in fact I felt even more grateful for his openness and willingness to both share and listen.

#3 - One woman I spoke to said that marriage was ordained by God for procreation. I then asked her if she was married.


"Why did you get married?" (pause in the conversation) "I mean did you marry to have children."

"No, we got married because we were in love."

I tried to connect with this love angle but i couldn't get her beyond the God/marriage/procreation. When I got off the phone I asked one of the people supporting us what I could have said there. He said I could have asked her what about couples that are barren, are their marriages valid?

"Good point," I said, "I never would have thought of that."

"Do you think she would have responded to that?"

"I don't know, but I think it would have made her think."

Which later made ME think. "What is the purpose or point of marriage?" It seems like such a simple question, but I honestly don't have a simple answer. I guess if I ever decide to get married I'll have to work on that. Though I'm kind of grateful I haven't had to face that yet. Though I can't say I'm taking a stand and won't get married until all people have the right, I would also feel sadness participating in something that excludes so many people.

#4 - I made phone calls for two hours, in that two hours I had 7 conversations (and a lot of no answers). None of the conversations were unpleasant, even when in complete disagreement with me. There were a couple people who refused to talk in a brusque way I guess, but that was it. And yet still, after doing this I got off the phone emotionally exhausted. I actually felt emotionally exhausted after my #1 & #2 gratitudes above, which I can't figure out, because they were such positive experiences. Maybe it is because as an introvert it takes so much energy, maybe it is my sensitivity, maybe...who knows. Anyway, I took refuge in the fact that a good friend of mine would be at my soccer game soon after volunteering and I could get a hug from him, which I felt I needed.

When I arrived, I walked in with the organizer of the soccer league, she asked why I was wearing jeans and I explained I had just been volunteering. She had volunteered as well and when I told her I was looking forward to getting a hug from my friend she said, "I'll give you a hug right now."

#5 - The most important people to talk to are not the strangers on the phone but those in my own life. I was feeling guilty because I had not yet spoken to my own father. My Dad and I are in almost complete agreement on politics, so I thought he would be a "no" vote. However, I have never in my life heard my Dad mention gay people in any way, so I really didn't know. I finally brought it up today by asking if his church (the church I grew up in) had taken a stance on the issue. I expected they would either have the opposite view of me, or not have taken sides. To my pleasant surprise, my father informed me that the pastor of the church is going family to family talking with them about it and that they are working for a no vote. My faith was renewed (and my Dad is with them :)

Bonus - I've tried to get my brother to come in and volunteer with me on this for months. Meaning I've asked him a few times and he's always said no.

Tonight he said he will come.

I'd like to add this link by Jack Davies a former state senator. He was the drafter of the form and structure rewrite of the Minnesota Constitution ratified in 1974.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Let the Rant Begin

Tonight, after a tired and slightly drained afternoon, I was surprised to find gratefulness emerge as I drove down the highway to buy groceries. I could rant endlessly about how cars, and roads, and highways, and gasoline are destroying our world, but tonight I just felt grateful. To live within reasonable driving distance of a co-op, and to have a vehicle to take me there. And then I thought, "May we see the beauty in what we create. May it not imprison us."

Once I heard a speaker, John Perkins, tell about bringing a shaman from the Amazon Rainforest to NYC. The shaman had never been outside of the rainforest, never seen a modern civilization. To ease his transition, Perkins decided to stop first at Central Park. To his surprise, when the shaman got out of the car he did not walk towards the trees, instead he crossed the street to a tall building and told Perkins, "You must fall in love with your cities."

I get that now.

This co-op is usually a bit hectic, but not on a Saturday night. At one point in my shopping I looked at my cart and realized, "This is going to be an expensive one." But I also knew I had the money to pay it.

One thing I love about the co-op is how, on some level at least, the food is already health screened. But today I reached for a frozen veggie burger on sale and read the first ingredient, "rice" and put it back. I had heard a few months ago from my friend concerns about the arsenic (carcinogen) level in rice, but I consciously decided to remain in the land of "ignorance is bliss" for a bit longer. Then the latest issue of Consumer Reports magazine came out and I read the article and could remain there no longer.

So now even in the land of healthy food I have to think twice. So many choices that were once the best ones, no longer are. For example, rice cakes were my ultimate healthy snack food. I would never choose to eat them at home (when I had other options) but for a snack away from home they were perfect. And then there is the rice milk for my cereal and....

"Human activities also add arsenic to the environment. They include burning coal, oil, gasoline and wood, mining, and the use of arsenic compounds as pesticides, herbicides and wood preservatives."

This is where I need to take a deep breath. This is where I connect dots that I have never heard Race for the Cure or any cancer group make. This is where I think of my mom, who loved rice, brown rice. And it's not just rice, it's apple juice and a system that separates what we put in with what we get out.

As I picked up my bags to exit the coop I saw a picture in a strange spot. I realized it was a silly photo of Vanilla Ice, and it was on the front of the ice machine


I laughed out loud.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Lack of Tidy

#1 - I've been doing yoga for 15 years now, and today I wondered, "Is this what it feels like to be married?" Something that began so nurturing, exciting, special, possibly even life-transforming - now is ordinary. I forget how it felt when my mind first started being quieted, my body being stretched, how I'd walk out of class feeling like I was walking on a cloud. Now, I certainly feel good when I leave, but the elation isn't the same.

Today there was a moment - the music got loud and rhythmic, I looked in the mirror and I completely dove in. A few moments later the music was turned down and I was back, but that glimpse helped me remember how it used to feel - maybe a bit like marriage?

Granted, even now, if I go for a week without yoga I do miss it. Maybe a bit like marriage too?

#2 - I thought it was pointless to try an tell a child who is not even 1 1/2 to stay back while her grandpa replaces his back door. She can watch but can't come close. But to my amazement I watched my niece cautiously approach but keep a four foot distance, at one point laying on her stomach and sliding backwards across the kitchen floor (something I'd never seen her do).

#3 - As I observed her I thought, "She is absorbed like she is watching television, but it's her grandpa fix something."

#4 - The soft voice that my father spoke to her with when she came in the room crying.

#5 - "Living in a pretty unorganized and not-as-tidy-as-I'd prefer home. The other side of choosing to spend free time not at home on the weekends." I read this on my friend Jill's blog yesterday and it is felt so reassuring to me both then and now. The top of my dresser has been a mess for the past few weeks, and reading this reminds me it is not just out of laziness but rather because of a project and focusing on other things.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Painting the Sidewalk with Water

#1 - When a Krishna Das comes on in yoga, I automatically start breathing deeper. Today I was already happy when one of his songs began and THEN it broke into this rapping part. It was awesome, devotional chanting and rap!

#2- My friend's mother agreeing to take a restorative yoga class with me this weekend.

#3 - Painting the Sidewalk with Water and Nothing to Grasp - these are appealing book titles from an author a friend told me I might like (Joan Tollifson.)

#4 - I received a love letter in the mail. From myself. The first time I recall writing a letter to myself was in my first poetry workshop ten years ago. The instructor had us write some sort of letter to ourselves, seal it in an envelope and said at some point we'd receive it, and I did. So it's not a new concept to me.

However, getting a letter in the mail, addressed to yourself, in your handwriting, that you do not recall writing (in this case) is a little weird. This time it was a love letter to myself, written on pink paper. It feels vaguely familiar, I would not be surprised if I read somewhere that instead of looking always outside for someone else to write you a love letter, to try it yourself, and that makes sense. Based on what I wrote, it was within the last couple years. The mystery though is WHO SENT IT TO ME? Obviously I either gave it to a friend...or did it in some other sort of class/workshop...who knows?

#5 - The letter is written on the front and back sides of a piece of paper, the back side feels empty to me/not really interesting, but the first few paragraphs on the front are quite specific and made me smile :).

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Three Chords and the Truth

#1 - I wrote a new song last week which I was especially excited about because it had been four months since I'd written any. I had the impulse to play it for a friend on Skype. I wanted to ignore this impulse as I didn't understand where it came from. I've never used Skype before and I've been fine playing on the phone...but I've also learned to follow my impulses. Reluctantly I decided to try it, but I was nervous. Fortunately my 20 year old cousin called and when I said I was going to get off the phone soon to Skype with my friend, she got all excited and wanted to try it right now.

Anyway, I am so grateful because I am so comfortable with her I didn't have any nervousness and she helped me figure it out.

#2 - I played for my friend and instead of it making me more nervous (which almost always happens when I play for others), half way through the song I felt instead more focused. There is one word I'm constantly messing up, saying it in the line previous to where it belongs. But when I played for my friend I got it just right.

#3 - My friend said he felt loved/cared for when he heard the song. This is exactly how I feel when I listen to my favorite live musicians - The Brothers Frantzich.

#4 - A friend read a book I gave her (self-published by another friend). She really liked it, which is of course wonderful AND the best part of is that she took the time to read it in the first place.

#5 - Bob Dylan was asked what it takes to write a song and he replied, "All you need is three chords and the truth."

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


#1 - The biker who stopped and helped me get my chain unstuck, right at the point were I was approaching giving up and trying to come up with an alternative plan.

#2 - That the chain got stuck on a pedestrian/bike bridge which made it more likely something like this would happen.

#3 - I walked to the end of the alley with my friend's three year old as he rode his mini-bike. On the way back (it was less than a block), he didn't want to ride. He wanted me to carry his bike. I told him it was his bike. He pushed it a bit and then started getting annoyed. I said, "We can rest here for a bit." So we sat down at the back of a garage at the edge of the alleyway. The child started playing. After about five minutes I was tempted to say, "Let's go," but then stopped myself. The child was playing with a thin layer of dirt, a few sticks, a decorative piece of woodwork (that had fallen off something)...having a great time. Soon enough I was having a great time too.

#4 - He started to gently comb my hair with one of the sticks and it felt really relaxing.

#5 - Whatever stopped my from my impulse to say, "Let's go" and redirected me to the enjoyable moment I was already having.

Monday, September 3, 2012


Osprey sighting.  I only know it was an osprey because after the bird caught my attention with its call, I looked up and saw it perched next to a huge nest at the top of a tree.  As I tried to identify it I looked down and saw the path/dirt road turn off was labeled, "osprey house". 

"Go climb a tree."
a mother I overheard talking to her 7 year old as they were packing up their campsite. It seems parents are often scared to let their kids do things like climb a tree.

I stopped and ate my lunch at a park I'd driven by but never visited, where the Rum River enters the Mississippi.

Watching my niece's intense absorption as she tried to clip her stroller strap after she was taken out and tried to walk around with my flip flop on one foot (she even got the toe hold at one point.)

I picked up a bag of trash that was at the top of a gutter drain.  I'd already passed by it at least three times and finally I picked it up today.  Since I already was carrying it I decided to pick up any recycling I passed as I I'm wondering if it was a "good deed" leads to "good deeds" kind of thing...there is a house down the street that has turned a small section of their lawn into an area to attract butterflies and other beneficial insects.  It actually looked pretty pitiful lately as everything is in such need of rain.  But as I walked past today I had a thought that has never occurred to me before, "I should mail them a card thanking them for creating that space on their lawn."  Even though it has been that way for a few years at least, it never occurred to me before.

(Pictures are from my trip a couple weeks ago, Mississippi River on Wisconsin/Iowa border, or WI/MN border on the middle one.)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Tolle at Google

I've been listening to this in segments. My favorite part thus far is minutes 27-38 where Tolle talks about technology. I recommend it.

Sunday, August 26, 2012


I've thought my gratitudes were really devoid of beautiful photos for a while. Today I am grateful to change that by starting to post some photos from my recent camping trip. Looking at these photos it is clear how much beauty I absorbed, and how healthy that must be. The Lake Pepin sign picture isn't beautiful, but I am including it because of how encouraging the last line was to me.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Oake on the Water

I biked 37 miles (total) to Excelsior today!

Almost the entire way, especially the way there (I did a loop), was flat bike paths.

Tristan Prettyman inspired this as she was playing there for free at Oake on the Water through Cities 97.

I didn't have a tired or complaining thought the entire way, aided by the cool/warm weather and low humidity.

I didn't know I could do that.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

This post got found

#1 - I was briefly researching my primary ballot today - the judges mostly - that I knew nothing about.

#2 - Alan Nelson - running for the MN supreme court - "The public has an expectation that all government services and laws will be applied in an equal and fair manner. Unless it can be proven that same-sex marriages are harmful (I have yet to see any evidence to support this), then the government must issue marriage certificates in an equal and fair manner to the public."

#4 - Learning that my neighbor and her family (with young children) lived in Oman for a year.

#5 - That my brother and sister-in-law have few toys for their child, but none of us notice (child included) because there is more than enough.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Tristan Prettyman

#2 - I Was Gonna Marry You - song by Tristan Prettyman that I've had in my head all day.

#3 - How my writing is coming together. Every few years I feel the need to write about what I've been thinking or learning, and then I send it as a letter to my friends (or really anyone that might read it). I was working on my current one today and I got excited about how it is coming together.

#4 - I realized the difference between these letters and most year end letters sent out by people (besides the length.) Most of those letters are exclusively focused on what people did which is interesting and important. However, what often gets left out is what people are feeling, what people are thinking about. I wonder why it is so rare to put that in those kinds of letters?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

I am a Town

#1 - A while back I posted Yummy Earth Organic Wild Peppermints as a gratitude.  Let me add to that...when I stick one on the roof of my mouth it lasts for a while and if I take a sip of cool water and hold it, the flavor permeates my entire mouth.

#2 - I am a Town by Mary Chapin Carpentar - that song washes over me, asks me to breathe deeply and always has.

#3 - This slowing down reminded me of catching a train with friends.  We were going to miss it, so we ran.  Well two of us did, one didn't.  "She refuses to be in a hurry anymore," her partner told me.  I understood this.  I respected this.  However, we would have missed the train had the two of us not run ahead to buy tickets.

This got me thinking about the nature of hurrying and how it is almost always stressful.  But I remembered another occasion - transferring from a train to a ferry.  It was a large station with multiple floors.  We didn't have much time.  So we ran.  It felt like I was in a movie.  It felt like an adventure.  It felt fun.

#4 - I had a really yummi breakfast that I've probably been grateful for before, but I will still describe it - full-fat vanilla yogurt, strawberries, walnuts, rolled oats and currants.  I'll add to this that I have been taking short showers, because I have been taking cold showers, because it has been so hot.   Since over half the nation is in some state of drought that can be a small contribution. And Carrie Elkin - Company of Friends  (song). 

#5 - Being Available - I remember in college when a roommate of mine needed to go to the hospital for some reason.  I wanted to be available and support her fully and I had my own college workload in the back of my mind.  Luckily I worked ahead of time so I go with her without sacrificing much, but it really bugged me that if it had been a bigger sacrifice I couldn't give it unconditionally.  I thought I would still make the "right choice", going to the hospital with her, but I didn't think I would be there fully.  I didn't have a word for "presence" yet, but I was knew that it mattered and that just being there physically wasn't enough.

I still don't have the answer to this - how to be available for what is really important in life.  Or rather, I have an answer but I don't particularly like it - have a job that doesn't pay much and isn't very important, don't have anything in your life that requires too much of you.  Some days I don't like this lack of direction/commitment.  Other days, I get an email from a friend, which she has sent to a lot of friends, talking about going through a hard time and asking for support and I think, "I'm on it!"

Monday, July 9, 2012


#1 - Lemon Berry Cream Pie - I try to consume as many berries as possible while they are in season because it goes by so quickly! This recipe actually came from a cookbook called Clean Food and also does not actually contain any dairy so I'm not so sure about the "cream" name.  (Michelle Obama is simply an appropriate backdrop.)

#2 - Fiasco - an old This American Life episode that I listened to the first segment today which made me laugh out loud.

#3 - I laughed again later thinking of it while making this pie.

#4 - I got really upset last week when I learned that someone I knew sent an email while on a meditation retreat.  Could she not wait five days to tell people how great it was???  Could she simply not enjoy the greatness for a while???  Anyway, I was already grateful last week to find a way to send her this message without the anger or frustration I felt, and today I got her reply which said.

"So funny……I got on my little Ipad for 10 minutes one night, and then realized… way. J
You are very astute."

#5 - "When all the dangerous cliffs are fenced off, all the trees that might fall on people are cut down, all of the insects that bite are poisoned...and all of the grizzlies are dead because they are occasionally dangerous, the wilderness will not be made safe.  Rather, the safety will have destroyed the wilderness."  - R. Yorke Edwards

Sunday, July 1, 2012


#1 - I think it is from listening to the first 20 minutes of Quiet : [the power of introverts in a world that can't stop talking] / Susan Cain. (which I really enjoyed), that I have been thinking about introverts/extroverts recently, especially in noticing how early this is apparent in my friend's children. I'd say by three years old it is pretty clear. I was talking to my teenage cousin about this yesterday telling her how I was pretty sure she was an introvert and that one of her sisters is an extrovert (and the other sister I'm not as sure about).

Anyway, my cousin wasn't really buying it so I just called her on the phone to see if she wanted to take one of the online tests. She was watching the Olympic trails so she said not now. I was going to end the conversation then, write my gratitudes and go to bed, but she was watching gymnastics, one of her favorite topics, and an hour later she was still talking to me. I had to laugh because it reminded me of myself. I remember telling my best friend in high school about people thinking I was so quiet and her saying that she didn't see me that way because I talked all the time! Same with my cousin, when I am with her and her sisters, she doesn't say a lot, her sisters are generally louder and more demanding of my attention. But on the phone with me tonight she talked non-stop.

#2 - She could relate when I started telling her how society often undervalues introversion, and that the Quiet book sounds interesting.

#3 - At the end of our conversation my cousin said she wanted to take the Meyer Briggs (an unofficial/free version) online with me later this week. I said, "Okay I'll call you some evening this week." Then she proceeded to say that we would need to do it by Wednesday because... and Monday and Tuesday there was...., basically thinking through her week. I said, "See you are a "J" (Judging), this is exactly the way a Judging person thinks." It was fun to have concrete examples of what I was failing to explain to her in the abstract.

#4 - We were asked to take five deep breathes at the beginning of yoga and think of a gratitude for each breath.

#5 - My niece loved the carrot juice, banana, lime, ginger smoothie her mom and I were drinking and kept signaling for more.

Saturday, June 23, 2012


#1 - Completing the journey to visit my friend without the use of a car.  I took the bus downtown, then the Greyhound to her small town in MN, and then walked to her house (it was only a little over a mile).  Today on the way home I did the reverse.

#2 - Wearing the one dress I saved from my mother which fits perfectly and was clearly handmade.  I am not sure by who, my grandma?

#3 - Talking to my friend about a partner that I would have interesting discussions with but who would also make me laugh.  She said since she has young kids the interesting discussions have kind of taken a backseat, but she imagined/hoped they would come back when her kids were a little older.  I later realized I could personally relate to this because it doesn't just happen with partners.  It is often the case for me with my friends with young kids as well.

#4 - When I was walking downtown to my bus to take me home I saw someone I knew and I got an unexpected hug.

#5 - In the media (non-satirical) section of The Onion June 21, 2012 - this quote from musician Fiona Apple.

"It pisses me off to think that we're conditioned to push away bad feelings and to think that anything that's uncomfortable is something to be avoided," she told Pitchfork in a recent interview.  "The worst pain in the world is shame.  I spend a lot of time trying to not do anything bad to anyone, but you can't live your life and not hurt people."

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Literary Speed Dating

At lunchtime I emailed a friend - 
"I have been meaning to complain to you all morning I just haven't taken the time to do it yet..."

He replied, "Go ahead! I'm all ears." So that will be gratitude #1.

At least two months ago, I signed up for a speed dating event at the library (scheduled for next Wednesday), but alas I discovered this AM that the event had been cancelled because of a lack of men (I called to find out the reason why).  This sent me into a tailspin of negativity.  Here is a section of the complaint email I eventually wrote -

"I tried EHarmony for a year, I tried regular speed dating a couple times, I’ve tried people suggested by friends, I've tried doing nothing (a lot).  I’ve tried doing things that interest me (and of course still will do that just because I want to), but the library speed dating thing was hopeful.  And not even that I would meet a man I was interested in, but rather just that there was a possibility and that it would be an interesting novel evening regardless."

The first person I told about my disappointment was a co-worker.  After I explained the whole situation she asked what book I would have brought.  For a favorite book I would pick, A Year with Rumi - Coleman Barks or The Prophet -Kahlil Gibran.  She said that was setting a "high bar" which totally depressed me because it is just my favorite books and if they disqualify too many people how will anyone qualify?  But then again, come on.  The Prophet has been in continuous print for nearly 100 years, I am not the only person who loves that book!! (This is will be gratitude #2 - this reminder to myself.)

#3 - Then I emailed a guy friend of mine who was originally interested in the event but I don't think ever signed up - "They cancelled the library speed dating event next Wednesday because they couldn't get enough men!  You were supposed to help me out!  (Obviously you couldn't have saved the event by yourself, but I'm bummed about it.)"  Writing this email made me smile.

#4 - When I told my sister-in-law she acted more disappointed than I was.

#5 - And then there is this poem which came to me while I was listening to a song called Love by Edie Carey. 

Will you just listen to me
Will you tell me to stop when there is no more to hear
Will you just hold me
Will you tell me to stop
When there is no more to be held
Will you just be here
When here is beside me and beneath me and above me
And around
Will you just
Be just
Will you just

Friday, June 15, 2012


#1 - Cleaning the windows both outside and inside.

#2 - Discovering how to take out the top half of the back windows (I thought only the bottom half came out.)

#3 - The design on the windows on the back screen door which made for easy removal and cleaning.

#4 - "Companies such as Netflix and Zipcar have fueled what some call the sharing economy." The Story June 12, 2012.   I liked that concept - The Sharing Economy.

#5 - 

"In Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury imagined a world where books were illegal
 and if they were found, they were burned.... 

In the world of Fahrenheit 451 books are not valued,
 media is. 
People spend hours lost in the many forms of media, big flat screen televisions and small devices with tiny earplugs, now remember Bradbury wrote this in 1953." 

 Dick Gordon on The Story June 8th, 2012

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Like a Man

#1- Adjusting the rhubarb muffin recipe, so they actually look and taste like muffins. (I doubled the recipe but did not quite double the rhubarb, last time they were more like mush).

 #2- I thought I was going to Common Ground meditation center tonight, but I suspect the people I was going with (from where I take yoga), decided to meet and leave earlier than originally planned? If that was the case I'm actually glad I didn't know what time they were leaving because then I would have felt rushed. I had exactly the time I needed to make dinner (even though it appears I missed my planned event).

 #3- I had 9 items waiting for me at the library today so I figured I'd better go pick them up. I was excited about the variety - a couple maps, camping info, a memoir and a piece of fiction, a CD (Like a Man by Adam Cohen), and a DVD.

#4 - The DVD was Letting Go of God by Julia Sweeney. I listened to her 15 minute TED talk and I really enjoyed it. It was the beginning of a longer monologue, which happily the library had. I find it to be insightful and entertaining.

 #5 - I am grateful for people coming over in a couple days which helped motivate me to not just vacuum the rugs in the entry way, but to take them outside and wash the floor beneath them.  I'm not usually excited to clean, but I always feel good after I do it.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Who's Gonna Be the Rep?

Some people don't like to be a part of the political process until close to the election.  However, by that point I feel there is little choice.  Unfortunately our system is dominated by two parties and of the two (I would like to be surprised here), but there is basically only one I have chosen.

However, I'm not always excited about the people chosen by either party and so the more I learn, the more interesting I find it to be in on the process early - to actually help shape the choice of who is on the ballot in the first place.

Each senate district in Minnesota has two state representatives.  The woman who was going to run for re-election as representative in my senate district, unexpectedly withdrew from the race.  The filing deadline for the election is next week so now the party needs to decide what to do.

I went to a meeting about this last night.  It was decided to have an endorsing convention on Sunday.  Since it is such short notice they needed to call the 125 people who are delegates (which was basically anyone that showed up on caucus night in February and was willing) to help make the endorsement decision.

#1 - I was one of five people who volunteered to make these phone calls.  I am grateful to have the time to do this.

#2 - One woman, who is on the school board and who I think is really cool, volunteered to make all 125 phone calls last night.  I am grateful that 4 of us volunteered in addition so she didn't have to do all that.

#3 - These were the easiest "list" of phone calls I've had to make.  Everyone was receptive and interested.

#4 - When I found out this seat was open, one woman came to mind.  She is someone who loves politcal stuff, is really active and I've come to respect both for who she is and for her viewpoints.  I was excited to learn yesterday she had read my mind (and was running).  I sent her a card of encouragement today.

#5 - I sent a letter today to a friend I'd been meaning to write since January, and I trust that now is a better time for her to get it. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


#1 - SCHEFFLERA - I've had a plant for about 25 years that I was given in elementary school and I didn't know what kind it was until today.

 #2 - I sent two emails today I've been meaning to write for a month. They were both to people I don't know well, but that I respect/enjoy. The first were to a couple that used to play on my soccer team. They moved away as one of them is going to school, but said they hoped to come back. The second was to a guy who might be interested in the speed dating at the library event.

 #3 -There are so many things in life that I don't necessarily want to do, but I am always glad I did. Today for example the simple act of getting out of bed, and then also biking to work.  Because I did both of these things I was able to enjoy the beautiful gentle breeze and the air that feels fresh.  One of my sayings is "too much of a good thing is still too much."  It applies almost universally - food, sleep, jogging, socializing, solitude, reading, work, goes on and on, but the one thing I've come up with that I can't see how there can be too much of is Fresh Air.

#4 - I googled rare Jason Mraz songs and listened to one I haven't heard before - Galaxy.

 #5 - I thought it might be cool to take a picture of the strawberries from below. I didn't put much effort into it and the result isn't so good, but looking at it did make me laugh.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Life isn't Measured

*Just knowing - I took four photos of this flower today. The first two were ok, and when I looked at the third it was clearly the one I wanted to use. No decision required.

*My Dad very somberly said to me today, "Life isn't fair Tammy." I braced for the somber news that was about to come and then he continued very seriously, "A lot of people don't have a job and they give me a raise."

*At 7:17pm tonight the sunlight streaming in my bedroom window onto my orange walls emanated warmth.

*I had a dream last night that I kept thinking, "I need to write this down, I need to write this down." I thought I was having these thoughts after waking up (groggily) from the dream, but when I for sure woke up later I realized maybe I was actually having those thoughts in the dream. Maybe I was dreaming and trying to get myself to write down the dream. All I remember now is that I was at a place full of wood - wooden room, wooden table - cabin like I suppose. And someone (the person seated across the table) told me that I was at a place between earth and heaven. It was an intermediary place.

*Life isn't measured in years it's measured in the excitement of creative devotion you have in your soul and as long as you can express yourself in ways that make you realize something of who you are, you just celebrates that, you keep going. -Ashley Bryan on The Story

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Half Saddle

#1 - The cashier at the coop today was really intentional with his eye contact.

#2 - It was more eye contact than I am used to in that situation, but I held it.

#3 - I wrote a friend a few days ago saying I was thinking of her and asking how she was doing.  She said most things "pretty much suck" and proceeded to tell me about them, at the end saying, "you asked."  I will take candor for a superficial answer any day.

#4 - Half Saddle in restorative yoga (I just want to be grateful for the restorative yoga class, but that is not specific enough,) so I'm adding a pose that is a great stretch for the knee and quadricep.

#5 - My friend gave me a bunch of shampoo she doesn't like.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Marriage and Booker

#1 - I door knocked with Minnesotans United for All Families again today. A woman who said strongly she would vote, "Yes!" (meaning wanting our constitution to state that marriage is only between one man and one woman) was willing to talk to me about it. After listening to her I said I just wanted to tell her quick why I was out there. I didn't want people to feel they needed to move to another state or country to be accepted for who they are.
"Oh of course not!" She agreed.

It began with a yes vote, but ended in an opening.

#2 - In the office they had a list of the 10 countries where same sex marriage is legal. Do you want to guess what those countries might be? (I will post them at the end of the blog post in case. Give it a try.)

#3 - The man I practiced our script with (in his 20's) who said he was door knocking because his Dad came out when he was in 5th grade and he wants his Dad to be able to get married.

#4 - Taking the bus that got me there 15 minutes late instead of 30 minutes early, I felt a little guilty doing it, but it prevented my morning from feeling rushed and worked out just fine.

#5 - There was an Onion article about my favorite mayor, Cory Booker of Newark, rescuing his neighbor from a fire. I looked it up and yep, it's true.

Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Iceland, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain and Sweden

Friday, April 13, 2012

Where Ugly Lives

#1 - Being offered two tickets to Farvi conducts Rachmaninoff at orchestra hall.

#2 - I'm home a little bit sick today. I always feel bad cancelling things I've committed to because I'm sick and it makes me wonder how people can handle it that have a lot more influential lives than I do. Like what if I had a big concert that a bunch people had bought tickets to, or I was in government and had an important meeting with a foreign official or I was in the Olympics and my big event was that day. Anyway, I'm glad that though it can be disappointing to not do something I planned to, the impact of my sickness is pretty small.

#3 - The understanding I received (as opposed to pressure to work anyway) when I told let them know I was sick. I was told something like "feel better before the weekend."

#4 - Having R.W. Knudsen Morning Blend juice on hand. (One of my favorite, especially when I am sick.)

#5 - "The first time I was ever called ugly, I was thirteen. It was a rich friend of my brother Carlton's, over to shoot guns in the field.

'Why you crying, girl?' Constantine asked me in the kitchen.

I told her what the boy had called me, tears streaming down my face.

'Well? Is you?'

I blinked, paused my crying,'Is I what?'

'Now you look here Eugenia'...'Ugly live up on the inside. Ugly be a hurtful, mean person. Is you one of them peoples?' (73)"

The Help
Kathryn Stockett

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Beauty from the Internet

Today's gratitudes are all going to relate to things I've come across on the internet.

#1 - Starting with Brene Brown's video I recommended a few posts back. I rewatched it last night because I wanted to write down some quotes. I went back today to decide which are good enough to end up in the front or back covers of my journal. Here is what I am selecting:

"Vulnerability is our most accurate measurement of courage."
Brene Brown

"Shame drives two big tapes: never good enough and, if you can talk it out of that one, who do you think you are?"
Brene Brown

"Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change. "
Brene Brown

#2 - How Plastic Bottles Can Light Up the Darkness

First time I've been excited about a plastic bottle!

#3 - When I needed a laugh today I went to the video on the AV page on Bushwalla's website. It made me laugh when I first watched it yesterday, and it had the same effect today.

#4 - “..They pointed the Hubble space telescope into a part of the sky that seemed utterly empty, a patch devoid of any planets, stars or galaxies…This was a somewhat risky move by the scientists, after all, observing time on this telescope is in very high demand and some questioned whether it would be wasted trying to look at nothing…Nevertheless, they opened the telescope and…when the telescope was finally closed and the images were processed, the light from over 3000 galaxies had covered the detector producing one of the most profound and humbling images in all of human history. Every single spot, smear and dot was an entire galaxy and each one containing, hundreds of billions of stars…” from Hubble Ultra Deep Field 3D

#5 - Another reassuring reminder that there is a whole lot going on in NOTHING.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

MN United for All Familes

On November 6th MN will either become




If it becomes #30 that means it will have followed the 29 (or 30) other states that asked voters about constitutional amendments limiting marriage to same sex couples.

If it becomes #1, it will be the first state to reject such amendments.

Today I went on Minnesotans United for All Familes first door knocking. During the intro they explained that what has been learned for the losses in all these other states, is that it takes personal stories to make a difference and they asked us to take a bit of time to consider our personal story that we could share.

I didn't really have one and I started wondering why I was there.

Pretty quickly this was answered by the person I was paired to door knock with. "Anne" has been with her partner 20 years and they are raising three children together. Suddenly my lack of personal story was sitting right beside me.

As we did our door knocking practice/role play I came closer to my truth and story. I want to live in a state where people feel safe and supported to be fully themselves. I don't want to live in a state that asks people to hide who they are or feel ashamed of who they are or tells them they are worth less for who they are.

I figured Anne had a lot more power for persuasion with such personal experience, being able to say, "I want to get married." (She did get married in '95 in a church in MN, but not legally of course.) But this also makes her more vulnerable. I've done quite a bit of door knocking, and it still makes me nervous and especially on an issue this personal. And this is WHY I need to be there.

Neither of us had any unkind experiences, though a couple did disagree. Anyway, I'm grateful for this experience and Anne and all the other volunteers and the six rockin states that allow people to fully love who they love. (And seriously if Iowa our neighbor can be so cool, we can too.)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Kale. Yeah!

Okay, there is this man at work (not man as in my dating age range man)- that I think is cool. We've only had very brief conversations, but once for example, we discussed the Dalai Lama and he ended up telling me he once opened a restaurant he called the Deli Lama! HA! Anyway, I don't believe I've ever talked to him more than five minutes, but he recently went to Costa Rica with Habitat for Humanity for a week. I told him that I would love to hear about it and said maybe we could talk about it during lunch one day. He agreed.

Well, today I sent him an email asking if tomorrow would work. (I am only working at this extra job briefly - three half days a week.) I figured I'd pack a lunch and just stay and eat there if it worked.

#1 - He wrote back an email with four sentences - all of which had two exclamation marks at the end. That's right, his email had eight exclamation marks! Because he had an "incredible" experience he is excited to share.

#2 - Instead of me packing a lunch. He said we would go out to lunch "no arguments."

#3 - "Do you want kale?" My friend to her 2 1/2 year old.
"Yeah." the 2 2/1 year old.

#4 - My soccer captain making me laugh by turning his requests for a sub into a poem.

#5 - Realizing that the Literary Speed Dating Event (speed dating at the library where you bring a favorite book) is not only incredibly cool already, but also the money I will spend for it will be going to the library itself. Yeah!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Lingering Refreshment

#1 & 2 - My favorite toothpaste and this yummi peppermint, both of which had a lingering refreshment effect today after eating a meal with plentiful garlic.

#3 - Having completed the first couple steps of the Curried Lima Bean and Rice Salad with Tempeh ahead of time, so I felt motivated to continue when I got home.

#4 - Getting the Park and Rec summer brochure in the mail with the tennis league. (I didn't play at all last summer because something was going on with my shoulder). It feels much better now.

#5 - Remember this list of books I am trying to sample this year?

Here is my progress thus far -

Books I've began but rejected - Friday Night Lights, Peace Like a River, The Book Thief and Ender's Game

Book I read but considered stopping many times - Wintergirls

And now to the point of all this -

Books I really enjoyed - Because of Winn-Dixie, Zeitoun and the crowning touch, a book whose cover I detest, title I dislike and story summary I find appalling, a book I normally would never read, which is the whole point of going through this World Book List, but actually turned out to be quite a compelling story The Hunger Games. And the movie is about to come out and lots of people know about it and I am grateful to be one of them.