Sunday, December 27, 2015

Beaded Gift

#1 - The beaded Christmas gift of he and I made by the oldest of the sweet man's daughters.

#2 - Finishing the "move the TV into the basement" project at the sweet man's.

#3 - Telling him to go upstairs with his oldest and spend some alone time together as it looked like she needed it. He said, "That's a good idea," and she smiled and took his hand and led him upstairs.

#4 - My brother lent some cross-country skis to the sweet man for his daughter that doesn't have any.

#5 - News of a possible winter weather advisory because it would be really awesome if we had enough snow for a couple things I have planned later in the week. The first is my Christmas present to the sweet man's girls - to go snow tubing.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Bowl Cousins

I often have a hard time getting my cousins out of bed when they visit and we have morning plans. This AM I woke them up playing my new (to them) song on guitar and one of them jumped out of bed after I was done, hugged me, and said my songwriting has come a long way!

Then we went to yoga class – for free – because afterwards we helped the owner of my studio move some supplies (blankets, bolsters etc.) for the remodeling project.

After that we met the sweet man for lunch (first meeting for them) which went splendidly. Soon my brother, sister-in-law, niece and nephew arrived for my niece’s first bowling experience. The ball was of course too heavy for her but it didn't matter.

“Hi,” the sweet man as he sat beside me at bowling.
“Usually when you say that it means you want to kiss me.”
“I do want to kiss you.”

Talking over Christmas plans with my sister-in-law I tell her I'll be spending a few days at the sweet man's house. "I'm so happy, she's such a special person and sweet sister to me," she says to him and I see just a hint of tears in both her and his eyes.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Broadway for Kids

On rare occasions I get restless legs when I'm at a performance. Today I wondered for the first time if it had a correlation to the carbon dioxide in the room. I really wanted to enjoy the musical but I was distracted by my ansy legs. Then someone opened the door of the auditorium to let in some fresh air. Soon enough they relaxed. I'm not sure there is a correlation, but now I'm curious about this possibility.

I was at my first school event with the sweet man's kids, a musical theater. I met him at the school and learned how the pick up process goes at the end of the day, then we went out to dinner nearby and returned for the performance. I actually really enjoyed it and found most of the acts engaging. They did a scene or two from 8 different musicals so that lots of different kids could have starring roles. This worked well and kept things moving.

The sweet man's daughter clearly was enjoying herself and happy to be there. Her Dad waved at her when he first spotted her on stage. He better enjoy that because she is close to being the age when that would be embarrassing, not quite yet I guess :).

One of the other kids in the play is a son of a guy I play soccer with. It was so sweet when he came on stage to watch how he'd sneak looks at his parents, making sure they were watching him.

I'm really glad I started off on a positive note with their mother. Our interactions are minimal, a mutual friendly wave in today's case, but it genuinely did feel that way - friendly.

After the play I went back to their place, the girls climbed into bed and I read the three of them The Neverending Story. I started reading it to them on the long car ride over Thanksgiving. We only got to page 260 out of 400 though, so we still have a bit to enjoy together.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Last Butternut

#1 - The last of the prolific butternut squash that grew from the compost was made into Moroccan Butternut Squash soup today.

#2 - My Dad happened to arrive right when the aforementioned soup was ready so we ate it together.

#3 - I am reminded as I sit here and search for gratitudes unique to a personally uneventful day to think small. As I scan my day I'm reminded of the dream my alarm awoke me from. The characters in my dream were from my favorite show in high school - Beverly Hills 90210. A show that almost seems like it does not belong here because it does not fit my current image. But then again, this also shows how much of a typical teenager I was, and sometimes being typical just makes life easier.

#4 - I'm grateful that it is unusual for television images/characters to cross my mind, because I just realized, it's been 20 years since I stopped watching television! I'm still exposed around other people some, but I have college to thank for changing that aspect of my life. There were just too many other interesting things to do. And I certainly spend enough time staring at screens on the computer.

I've also been thinking about this as I may watch a movie with the sweet man this weekend. In the 9 months we've been dating, we have watched one movie together. I've had four movies I'm interested in on suspended request at the library for months, but I always think of other things I'd rather do with my time. This weekend I am ready to watch one.

#5 - My niece seems to really be engaged/captivated by art activities. I signed up today for an ornament making class to take with her through community education.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015


#1 - Last night I saw that my neighbor was throwing away a loveseat (I guess that is the word for a small couch?). I went over to look at it in the dark. There didn't seem to be anything broken or wrong with it. As part of moving the television into the basement at the sweet man's place it would be nice to have an additional place to sit in the living room. So I called him up and asked what he thought. He had similar thoughts to myself, so I grabbed it and brought it inside.

However, a principal concern remained. How was I going to get it over there? My one thought was a good friend of mine's father who lives nearby and has an SUV. I would have liked to call him before I grabbed the couch off the curb, but it was 10pm.

#2 - So I waited until this morning and then hesitantly called and asked. I was apprehensive to do it even though I was 90% sure he would be happy to help. It can be so hard to ask! Anyway, I just called and he not only said he would but...

#3 - He said he'd come by this morning and we could get it done today!

I feel so wealthy.

#4 - I was planning to bus to the sweet man's later this AM anyway so this really couldn't be more convenient!

#5 - I like to have the steps all figured out before I act. So it takes a leap of faith for me to act before I have the steps in place.

But I'm glad I did.

And as a bonus...a little spoken word

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

French Father and Son

I had other things but...

to the strength of the father,
the openness of the child,
the receptivity of the reporter
the station who led me there (NPR)
and the video itself.

(And I guess I'll add to this, that I embedded this video before the copyright claim revoked it. Now I've found it in another location though it cut it off 10 seconds early in my opinion. I don't know how to embed this link.)

This is a longer clip and they often get rotated on Tolle's site, but for now -

Monday, November 9, 2015


#1 - I just signed up for the first volunteer event the sweet man, his kids and I will do together.  It's preparing donated bikes for kids.  We will be preppers which basically involves cleaning/scrubbing the rust off of bikes.

#2 - Do you know what seriously is one of the most appealing things about having a kid is to me?  Reading with them.  So it is no surprise that since the aforementioned four of us will have a 10 hour drive (round trip) over Thanksgiving, I have made a few requests from the library.  I just thought of another book that would be awesome to read together -The Neverending Story.  I just added it to my request list even though I already had books planned.  Who knows maybe they've already read one of them, best to be prepared.  Then again I've already read all these books...I'm still excited.

#3 - I also scheduled the date for my New Years ritual.  I had no idea we were starting a tradition when two friends and I honored the New Year in a reflective way 10 years ago.  We haven't stopped since.  It usually involves a potluck meal, some writing and whatever else we have the inspiration to explore.  The last few years it has involved selecting a word of the year. 

This year my word of the year is ripe.  I was completely afraid of this word when my body selected it.  I was playing with words in my head, it was already a couple weeks into 2015 and nothing was coming to me.  "Maybe I won't have a word of the year." I thought.  I started playing with water imagery and then r words ripple etc. Then "ripe" popped in my my mind and my entire body responded.  Well, everything except my brain.  My brain said, "What the hell is 'ripe' in my life?  Absolutely nothing."  I felt I had chosen words of the year before that I wanted but never materialized. I did not want a word of the year that I would feel I failed at.

But I couldn't let it go either.  Ripe chose me.  It still has a couple more months, but it fulfilled its mission long ago.  I am no longer afraid that nothing in my life is/was ready.  Hopefully, in a couple months another word partner will come my way.

#4 - I listened to Macklemore's Downtown as a break today.  It just made me smile.

#5 - I received an email from a friend about the difficult week she had last week and feeling alone and vulnerable.  I'm glad she felt safe and willing to share that with me.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Fairy Tale Hike

#1 - When I pulled up at my friend's house - her child was kneeling at the living room window waiting for me.  When I got inside he gave me this.

#2- The sweet man and I went for a short hike with his kids at a nature area.  I told them when we arrived that I often see wild turkeys here.  Sure enough we had barely begun and about 7 or 8 turkeys came barreling down the path - almost right at us - then went around us by 5 feet or so and continued on their way.  Only the last one in back kept a more respectable distance and went in the woods to avoid us.  I said that was the highly sensitive turkey.

#3 - The look on the youngest's face when her normal talkative self became silent and her jaw dropped as the turkeys trotted by.

#4 - When we got to a bridge we decide to act out The Billy Goat Gruff, then we did Hansel and Gretel, Sleeping Beauty, then Rumpelstilskin, Snow White, Cinderella, Jack and the Bean Stalk and Rapunzel.  Almost the whole 1.5-2 mile hike we were acting out fairy tales.  I have never done that before.  I can say that for certain.

#5 - Everyone including the sometimes selective eater - enjoyed the lentil, apple, carrot, sweet potato soup that I made for lunch.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Big Magic

#1  - I went to a cancer prevention session this AM and they brought up a few things I already intended to talk to the sweet man about.  It was a nudge/reminder to make that happen.

#2 -  I’m vastly enjoying Elizabeth Gilbert’s new book – Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear.  I didn’t want to read it this afternoon though because it’s a book I don’t want to read too fast, it has some points I want to give myself some time to absorb and ponder.

I did want to read today though so I happened to have checked out The Frog Prince – A Fairy Tale for Consenting Adults by Stephen Mitchell.  I’ve read it previously but I can’t remember anything beyond the fact that I enjoyed it.  It’s a short book that can be guzzled down for enjoyment, which is what I’ve done today. (#3) – in the sunshine on the ground in the backyard after I took out the rest of the plants in the garden and raked some leaves.

#4 – There is a some advice that I heard quite a while ago from the Buddhist monk/author/Nobel Peace Prize winner Thich Nhat Hanh that I employed today.  He said if you are angry, say to your anger, “You are safe with me.  I will take good care of you.”  Today I did that with my hurt.  I had enough space inside to tell my hurt, “You are safe with me.  I will take good care of you."

I put Jason Mraz's (well Buika's song) on while I typed this as that takes good care of me too.  I thought about how I was carrying my own weight - not blaming anyone for my hurt, not denying my hurt.  Just seeing it there and saying, "I'll take good care of you."

"At the end of the day, you gotta carry your own.  No matter which path you take when you roam.    You gotta be ok with being alone.  Your body is a temple better make it your home... is where you heart is beating.  You are not the only one who's bleeding.  All you need is the air you're breathing and to just keep on believing, in you, and everything you do, then move aside and let the dream come through..."  - Jason Mraz/Buika

Gilbert was writing about this too - creating/holding/protecting space in your life for inspiration and creativity to come through.  It isn't ours, we just make the space.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Carry Your Own Weight

Still grateful for this man, and for a public that supports him, so encouraging.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Gym? Gymnastics?

#1 - Memorizing a Herman Hesse poem (Libros) in Spanish while I walked at Moose Lake State Park.  It gave me something positive to return my thoughts to when they'd wander to irrelevant places.

#2 - Most of my walk my mind was speaking uselessly.  I was almost done and going to return to the car when I saw a small trail to my right.  I was ready to leave but gave into the instinct to follow it.  It ended up being the most beautiful and peaceful part of my day.

#3 - A the top of the stand of pines were some yellow maple.  There were red leaves too but they were only on the ground.  I slowed down and did some walking meditation and then spontaneously sat for a bit.

#4 - The way the water of Lake Superior meets the sky in the golden light of late afternoon and the end of the fall leaves.

#5 - A mini-adventure in search of a gymnastics open gym.  The first place my cousin and I went didn't seem to have any gymnastics equipment. It was the wrong YMCA so the evening didn't go as planned, but nevertheless we enjoyed spending it together.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Supportive Groups

#1 - Often times I would rather be alone than with a group of people, however there are some exceptions.  Last night I went to a restorative yoga class.  Basically you prop yourself up with a few blankets and lay there.  "I could do this by myself," I thought.  But it's not the same.  Being in a room with other people who are committed to resting is a powerful experience.

Tonight I'm going to a writing and meditation group.  Once again it is pretty simple  - sit in silence for a certain number of minutes, then write for a certain number of minutes.  I could do it by myself,

but it's not the same.

#2 - I have a cold this week and it's nice to have simple nourishing activities - and the flexibility to take an hour long nap in the afternoon - which I just did.

#3 -  The poem I read with my breakfast.  Improvement by Danusha Lameris.

#4 - I checked in with an extended family member about bringing a few extra guests to Thanksgiving.  He responded,  "...Plus we would like to meet him.  I will be on my very best behavior."

#5 - I sent an email about a month ago to a friend from over ten years ago.  I told her I was proud of her, which felt a little weird - I didn't mean it in a condescending way which is how it kind of sounded to me - but it was the best way I could describe how I felt.  I had googled her and found where she worked/what she was up to.

I didn't hear back so I didn't know if the message came off as kind of annoying, until today.  She wrote

Tammy, your message brought me to tears. 

Thank you for always touching my heart. 

Wednesday, September 30, 2015


#1 - Harvested the first of what looks like about 20 butternut squash that grew by itself out of the compost.  Today I made butternut squash soup.  On Friday I plan to make Butternut Squash and Black Bean Lasagna.  My sister-in-law took a couple and I have a few people in mind for a few more.  That still leaves me about a dozen.

#2 - My Dad was telling me about a book about two WWII pilots.  One of them was an ace German pilot.  He saw this American plane that was all torn up and the people inside struggling.  The German didn't think they'd make it back to England so he tried to motion for them to land in Sweden.  They didn't understand and thought he must be out of ammunition.  The German decided to escort them out to sea so that they didn't get attacked further and stayed above the American plane as their only gun that still worked was beneath.

Despite what appeared hopeless the plane made it back to England and the two men inside survived.  This kind of story was censored however as they didn't want good/kind news about Germans to come out.

Decades later, the German lived in Canada and there was some sort of WWII gathering.  He was hesitant to go as he expected to be the only German there.  He went however and all the Americans treated him like a brother.

The German and American also met at some point many years later.

"Shows the pointlessness of war," my Dad said, "They should have all high schoolers read this book."

Despite my Dad saying this, I haven't known him to take the time to read a whole book so I thought he was summarizing what he'd heard from the friend who gave the book to him.  But nope (#3) he did read the whole thing.

#4 - Having limited access to a car causes me to invent creative schemes that also have the by product of reduced emissions.  Today or tomorrow I plan to bike over my soccer stuff to my friend's parents, who will drop it off at my friend's (where they are going anyway), who will drop it off at my sweet man's house (where my friend and I are meeting) so that I can bus from there to soccer without having to carry too much stuff.  It's complex, but is also a skill, a muscle training me for some other complexities in life...

#5  - I love having a clothesline and during at least 6 months of the year, time my laundry with sunny weather.  Despite this fact I found myself, once again today, rushing to get my clothes hung up.  No matter that it was a beautiful day outside, no matter that the earth felt soft beneath my feet, nor the sun on my face, nor the cool air on my skin.  I am getting this done so I can get to my next task.  And yet, there is a space inside me that also knows, "You don't have to be like this.  You could hang your clothes in another way."

Tuesday, September 22, 2015


"The original definition of sacrifice moves more inwardly. 
 It means to give up what no longer works
in order to stay close to what is sacred."

 Mark Nepo


"Creativity is the way I share my soul with the world."  

Brene Brown


"The life of expression
is the tuning fork
by which we find our way
to the sacred
to what matters."

Mark Nepo


"I used to believe, before I did the research for the Gifts of Imperfection, I used the believe that there were creative people and there were non-creative people.  Umm, and now I absolutely understand, personally and professionally from the data, that there are no such thing as non-creative people.  There are just people who use their creativity and people who don't.
 And unused creativity is not benign."

 Brene Brown


"When you are taking on creativity, you are taking on soul work."

Brene Brown


"We can't bypass the human journey. 
 It's the cocoon that releases our spirit. 
 And a lot of times we want to get out of here. 
 It's painful.
  It's hard. 
 It's difficult. 
 Another reason we need each other."

Mark Nepo


"...How many other people have a similar story like that
where they just shut down
and were never allowed to be makers again. 
They were never allowed to be participants in creation again. 
They could only be consumers, you know, you are not allowed to
contribute to the evolving story of the universe that is in motion,
you just get to watch
 and buy
and purchase things
and that's all you get to do."

Elizabeth Gilbert


"Failure has a function
it asks you
if you really want
to go on making things."

Clive James


"You are
a born maker
and we need
what you can bring to us
because you are the only one
 who can bring it."

Brene Brown

Monday, September 14, 2015


I planned to go to yoga tonight, though I saw on the schedule someone was subbing for one of my favorite teachers...then the sun and the breeze and the temperature enticed me outside. I quickly shifted gears, packed up the leftovers from the food I made yesterday and headed to Medicine Lake.

The first time I walked around this lake was during a low point in my life - I think in a February. Snow covered the ground and though it was not a particularly cold winter day, it was probably in the 30's or 40's. I was taking a short walk to try and shake up something in myself, I guess it started to work because as I walked I asked, "I wonder if there is a path that goes all the way around the lake?" I kept walking. Then, "I wonder how far it is around the lake?" I kept walking. I only came across a person or two, "Maybe I should ask them how far it is?" I kept walking. It speaks to the sense of desperation I felt in my life that I didn't care, I just kept going. Or maybe it speaks to a lake called, "Medicine," that I have occasionally wondered about, but never taken the time to research until now.

Wikipedia says, "The name Medicine Lake is derived from the Dakota word Mdewakanton, meaning "Lake of the Spirit."


Not immediately, but soon enough I started walking around that lake one evening a week. I believe for at least a year or two I hardly missed a week - late winter to late fall. This year, on the other hand, I think it's my third walk around, and possibly my first alone.

It is a beautiful walk, but even beautiful things can turn ugly when they are done out of desperation or loneliness. Or maybe not turn ugly, but fail to live up to their potential. I often imagine the trees can hear my thoughts as I walk beneath them. A broken record of the endless cycles inhabiting my brain. I've enjoyed returning to that walk with fresh perspectives, new cycles weaving in my consciousness. I feel the trees take that in, or laugh at me, "Here she goes again."

Today I spoke to the trees about marriage. Years ago, I told a friend that if I got married I'd want a small/simple ceremony. Recently she asked me if I still felt that way, I kind of shrugged, I hadn't given it any thought. Today for whatever reason, as I began to walk, I did for the first time this year. I found my perspective hadn't changed. I also pondered the upcoming thanksgiving holiday with the trees - how that might look, what plans might be made. All of this was in the first hour of the walk.

The second hour, I think I quieted down, or at least whatever I thought about was quieter - maybe the flock of pelicans (do pelicans fly in V formation flocks?)overhead. Maybe the long hike my friend wants to take in 15 years (my hike today felt like plenty to me). Maybe the man who asked if he could list me as his emergency contact when he goes wilderness camping. Maybe being asked, "What did you mean?" to a line I wrote in a poem that no one has ever inquired about before.

Maybe - what in fact inspired someone besides me to call this lake, "Medicine". Maybe someone like the creators of this.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Interrupting Regular Programming

Well, it's only fitting that these are the last two photos from Asheville I have to share. I'm listening to an audio book today while I work - A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers will Rule the Future by Daniel Pink.

I don't find it riveting. I was already on board and didn't need the convincing for the left brain he does at the beginning, however I agreed with the premise and am encouraged by the perspective.

I'm about halfway through and I just got to this part

“Sydney Harman…the 80 something multi-millionaire CEO of a stereo components company, says he doesn’t find it all that valuable to hire MBA’s. ‘Instead I say get me some poets as managers. Poets are our original systems thinkers, they contemplate the world in which we live, and feel obliged to interpret and give expression to it in a way that makes the reader understand how that world turns. Poets, those unheralded systems thinkers, are our true digital thinkers. It is from their midst, that I believe we will draw tomorrow’s new business leaders.'”

I almost fell over.

A whole new mind or a whole new world?

Sunday, September 6, 2015


#1 - Hearing the thunder and rain at 4AM yet feeling calm/peaceful about how this would affect the market today.  It was still lightning when I got there for set-up, but within a half hour it ended and the light intermittent rain was nice.  I was filling in at a different market than usual.  The head of the board of directors at my market is affiliated with both and asked me if I was available to do so.  Since I don't really know what I'm doing there it's incredibly helpful to have two teenage boys that help with set-up and tear down there that know exactly what to do.

#2 - The former mayor of the city also is at the market every Sunday on an entirely voluntary basis which is also quite appreciated by me because she knows what is going on.  Like I didn't know the face painter should be paid $25, so when she asked for the money I looked at her a bit blankly.  The former mayor said, "They didn't tell you about that part huh?"

(Asheville, NC photo)

#3 - The woman who runs the market told me she'd email me the lay-out on Thursday night and asked if I could print it out, "Sure."  When I checked my email yesterday I still didn't have it.  I wasn't going to go off and on the computer looking for it all night.  I just got up a little early.

When I tried to print it at 6AM - of course - it wasn't working.  I actually kind of just shrugged, things don't work for me at the last minute, so I wasn't surprised.  Luckily I knew the market would be rather empty for the holiday weekend so having vendors in specific spaces wasn't going to be critcal.

Then I got the printing to work.

#4 - The morning musician played the keyboard for 3 hours.  His music was happy and lively and a woman I recognized as a nearby librarian started dancing the polka with someone.

#5 - I saw the woman who hit my friend when we were jogging last week.  She was stopped at a red light, turning right.  We started jogging through, she didn't see us.  It was low impact at a low speed in a small car, but  still a car vs. a person.  I imagined the woman feels pretty awful, but I didn't have her number to let her know how my friend is doing.  Anyway, there she was in front of me, so I spoke with her briefly.

(My friend, by the way, is handling the whole thing amazingly.)

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Close Call

My brother, my niece and I went to check out a frisbee golf course a block from where he lives.  On the walk home my niece wanted to try and catch a moth in the road.  It would fly a bit and then land again, then as we approached fly off and land again.  "You can't chase things in the road honey because if a car is coming you won't be paying attention," I said off handedly.  There was zero traffic and the road we were on dead ended at a school where nothing was happening.

About a minute or so later a small SUV came barreling through the intersection completely ignoring the stop sign.  My brother and I stood stationary in disbelief.

After a bit the vehicle came back around to the intersection.  The driver's window was open so I walked up and said, "You just scared us, we were walking across that intersection with a small child and you went through that stop sign without even slowing down."

"I did? I'm so sorry," she said to me (cell phone in hand).

It didn't really dawn on me until later how close we were to being in the middle of that intersection when that vehicle came through, how much I assume a vehicle will stop at a stop sign, how lucky my niece wasn't alone chasing moths...


I never knew people gave 4 year olds make-up - but someone gave some to my niece for her birthday and she loves it.  After applying four lipsticks and eye shadow to me, she asked her mom for face paint.  I actually really enjoy it because she is so quiet and completely absorbed in the task as she works.

It was a beautiful day to bike the 17 or so miles to their place, something I hadn't done yet this year.   Then I biked a few more to my friend's to spend time with her and the kids.  When the kids found out I was sleeping over the youngest said, "I love when you spend the night!"  The oldest agreed.  The children and I built a fort out of a new construction toy then put a sheet on top.  Later I curled into bed with the youngest at my shoulder and the oldest right beside for bedtime stories.


These photos are from a couple weeks ago, while I was in North Carolina - something beautiful opened.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

10,000 Gratitudes

You know the longing that sneaks up on you? The car behind driven by a man, his two daughters in back, no one on the passenger side.

Yesterday you spent two hours with that man in the woods – a compass, a walkie talkie, bright snow, bright sun.

You didn’t notice how easy it was - stepping in line with his family, consulting a map, charting a course.

You did notice how blue his eyes were, how quietly he led, how subtly he redirected. You did notice how all comments passed from him to his girls, or you to the girls.

His youngest invited you to dinner. His oldest kept tally.

Twinkle. Twinkle. Kira. Kira.

After finding the last marker you laid in the snow. The family returned inside.
You expected to luxuriate in the sun.

But now the space felt empty. You realize the ease of the last 2 hours. You recognize the lack, now at home, in your chest.

Many times you’ve sat atop a view and it’s been plenty.

It’s been enough.

But now they continue into their lives and you to yours
yet something lingers.

On the drive home he pulls out behind you, girls in back, no one beside.

He follows a while, then passes,
and is gone.

Ahh, so goes my weekend.
Ahh, so goes my life.


I wrote this in March, one week after finishing five years of writing gratitudes, on the way home from a cross country ski weekend where I’d spent a couple hours doing an orienteering activity with a quiet, peaceful man and his two daughters.

So I suppose it is only fitting that yesterday, when I reached 10,000 gratitudes, I was returning from my first camping trip with both he and his daughters.

Then again, it is also true that we all had been camping together before, in a big group, last August, though we never spoke nor noted one another.  I can vaguely picture them in my mind’s eye, because there were many adults, but few children.

I was scheduled to post yesterday, on my 10,000th gratitude day, however I arrived home at 10pm from camping and wasn’t ready for bed for at least another hour, and this morning was an early farmer’s market one. So I made quick notes in my journal instead.

  • “Let’s go lay in the hammock and watch the sunrise.”
  • The audio version of The Phantom Tollbooth ended just as we pulled into the drive, (like the book ended perfectly our last night in the tent).
  • Hugging good-bye, I pulled away and he said, “Ummm,” and didn’t let go. “I keep thinking about taking you home with me. Someday.”
  • Getting crabby because I am getting to bed late and I have to be at the farmer’s market at 6AM and I need to bike there and there are thunderstorms in the forecast and then I got on the computer quick to print out tomorrow’s market lay-out and there was a sweet message from the sweet man which he sent a couple hours before we left to go camping.
  • Despite the message, I was still getting crabby. Becoming aware of this, that my “pain body” was slowly taking over (instead of it unconsciously taking over), then being able to laugh it a little and at the fact that I almost had a meltdown when the kitchen was out of paper towels after I dropped some cantaloupe I was cutting for the next day on the floor.
So that was yesterday. Today I am grateful -

#1 - To have had the energy to bike to the market, to have packed a breakfast and lunch, to have grabbed my extra bike bag so I could bike home with produce, to spend the day outside interacting with people, that the storms didn’t come during the market, that despite it being quite windy I didn’t have to paddle against it, that I implemented my new eat breakfast at the market strategy so I didn’t have to get up before 5AM and that my childhood friend Becky came to shop.

#2 – I had not seen the aforementioned friend for a few years. Her husband was with her and he thanked me for encouraging him (when I last saw them at the market) to try the community ed tennis league. He said he’s played a few years and that he’d loved it. I didn’t even remember the conversation.

#3 – Being able to drive to clean the yoga studio because if I had to bike I would have had a serious attitude problem. I knew I was going to be tired, so after about 20 minutes of cleaning I took a 30 minute or so nap. It totally shifted me into a quiet space. I wasn’t in a hurry to get done, the only other “thing” I had to do today was type this and I surrendered to the task and the cleaning and I really enjoyed it. I lisened first to nothing, then to the Peter Mulvey CD I recently picked up at the library and then to Prairie Home Companion.

#4 – I’m pretty tired, but the house is quiet, the windows are open, the sky is a stormy shade of yellowish-grey, the rain just began to pour down and I’m about to take a shower and climb into a safe, sheltered bed.  Well, I was about to and then realized I probably had a couple emails I should respond to from last week.  And then I started getting crabby from being on the computer and then I took a deep breath and slowed the crabbiness down.

Slowed down enough to decide to stop, and leave you with this


Thursday, August 13, 2015

Waterski Show

#1 - Seeing my niece excited to actually "swim" because she knows she can do so now while wearing a life jacket.

#2 - Making up a song about the gifts my friend's child got for his birthday - carrots, mushrooms, a heavy watermelon that he had to roll all the way home and ice cubes.

#3 - Sitting quietly beside the sweet man on the banks of the Mississippi river while we watched the waterski show.

#4 - How my niece ran up to hug that man's youngest child when they arrived.

#5 - That he didn't buy his kids a foam sword (the souvenir of sorts at the waterski show). I doubt he realized it, but I would have had serious concerns if he did. I do not want to spend my time around children who expect to be bought things everywhere they go. You would think my niece was one of those children based on the way she insisted, no demanded, I buy her one. However, I know my brother is not that type of parent so I guess she was just practicing her leadership skills.

Which reminds me of a gratitude a while back. My niece was being commanding and my brother said, "Are you practicing your leadership skills?" Apparently he heard a story like I did, that when girls elicit such behavior they are often called bossy but when boys do so they are seen as leaders.

(Photos are still from Asheville, NC - Craggy Gardens to be specific).

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Asheville, NC

I could, like usual, focus on gratitudes for today. Like the new name given me by my niece, "Stunky Kofer". Instead I am grateful to have a format to share some stories and beauty from my recent visit to North Carolina.

These first two are at Chimney Rock State Park.

It was obviously a beautiful place, but in fact I enjoyed myself more at the Carl Sandburg Historic Site. I didn't think I'd have time, I only wrote down the info because Sandburg is a (unfamiliar to me) poet. But after I left Chimney Rock it was still early afternoon so I went.

Was it the fact that a poet lived here that made the place so peaceful?

Or the fact that poets in the U.S. don't draw crowds of people?

Didn't matter. I'm so grateful I had the time.


I wanted to spend a little more time at this waterfall than a quick photo. Maybe I could do some yoga?

However despite the beauty of this picture, there was a fair bit of trash strewn about. So I went and got a plastic bag out of the car and picked up all the recycling. Most of the trash was either beverage bottles or discarded clothing and towels. I didn't help with the clothing situation, but the trash situation looked better as I left. It also made me happy to know that if the sweet man were with me he would have jumped right in, because I've witnessed him do such things fairly early when we'd walk together.

I haven't been excited about a waterslide in 20 years, but when I heard there was a natural one near Asheville, it was my #1 priority.

I had been warned in multiple ways that this place can be really busy, so I planned to go on a Tuesday. When I arrived at 9AM or 10AM (I forget) there was ONE car in the parking lot. I'm glad some teenagers were there with their grandparents, otherwise I wouldn't know what to do.

Or get these photos taken by the grandma.


This is Mount Pisgah, my favorite hike. It was three miles from my campground to the top which I find to be the perfect distance.

Near the top

Although it seems like I went to North Carolina to enjoy the nature. The original prompting for the trip was guitar and folk week. So I'll end with some possible options for my album cover ;).

Tuesday, July 14, 2015


In my 20’s I spent a couple years on staff at a holistic retreat center. Guests would come for weekend or weeklong workshops on an immense variety of topics: meditation, yoga, drumming, reincarnation, tennis, cooking, dance, writing, poetry, shamanism, painting, singing etc.

One day I walked outside and 100+ couples were spread out across the lawn. It was a striking image of non-verbal communication. As my eyes scanned the scene – some couples were turned towards each other, some turned away, some were touching, some were feet apart, some looked into each other’s eyes, some avoided the other’s sight. But no matter what my assessment, I felt a deep respect for every single one of them. Here before my eyes were people who were doing the work,

“Work is love made visible.” Kahlil Gibran.

“For one human being to love another; that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks, the ultimate, the last test and proof, the work for which all other work is but preparation. “ Rainer Maria Rilke.

They had all set aside the time, set aside the money, and set aside themselves in an attempt to be there for another, to attempt to be there for a relationship. That day a seed was planted in me which I recently started to water.

I requested an audio book by the leaders of that couple’s workshop – Harville Hendrix and Helen Hunt. The foundation of their work is a process called the Imago Dialog. I first attempted it on a jog with my friend. Later I told the sweet man about it and he was open to trying it. It went really well and he said he felt really close to me afterwards (I felt the same). However, today was the first time we actually used it for an issue/frustration. When I asked the sweet man if he was available for a dialog when I came over tonight (first step is to make an appointment), he said he wanted to go for a walk first. So we did, take a short walk. He told me about something he liked in an Elizabeth Gilbert book which she does with her husband. You say to the other person, “Tell me a story about _____,” and they tell you about something in their life related to whatever word you said.

“Maybe we could do that sometime.” He said.

“Let’s try it now.”

So we sat on a bench and he said, “Tell me a story about rain.”

“The first thing that comes to mind is - I don’t know why this is, but usually people don’t go swimming when it’s raining. And though you can get a ticket in Minneapolis for swimming across a lake with a boat, it’s not illegal outside the city. So when I lived with my brother sometimes we would take his kayak to a lake and take turns swimming beside it. One day it was raining, not a downpour, but not a drizzle either. I was swimming and it was immensely beautiful to watch the rain hit the water and bounce back.”

I suppose this isn’t surprising as the memory that popped out as today I participated in the Open Swim in Minneapolis for the second time. A few times a week (it’s only free on Tuesdays though) you can swim across a lake without getting a ticket, and instead actually have lifeguard support. I tried it for the first time last month not sure how I’d do (I easily made it across and back) and today I went again. I did start to think of the other swimmers as torpedoes. There are a LOT of swimmers 95% doing front crawl WAY faster than my breaststroke and, despite their goggles, seemingly oblivious to my slow moving form in front of them.

It’s such a great work-out and so different from other things I do – total body, no impact and you aren’t hot and sweaty afterwards – interesting! When I swim back and forth at a beach I have to decide how long to swim, in this case all that chatter is gone, I swim until I get across. Plus in the way that it is motivational to jog or bike in places where other people are doing those things – it is motivational to have lots of others swimming (without the stress of a race which I’m sure many of them are training for).

After I told the story about swimming in the rain we did the Imago process about a time I reacted to something the sweet man did and I didn’t feel listened to – or rather taken seriously – when I asked him about it. It had to do with camping and bears and food storage. I told him about it and tonight I did feel listened to, and of course it was bigger than this. It had to do with things I see people doing (like feeding ducks) that seem benign but actually are harmful to wildlife. I get upset when people are unaware of the impact of their actions. This realization helped him understand more why it upset me.

In addition, as I drove home I thought about one of the principles of Hendrix and Hunt which is that we attract partners to help us heal our childhood wounds. “Is there a childhood wound this relates to?” I asked myself. I didn’t think of anything at first, but then in an instant, one of my stronger childhood memories came to me. I was at a lake with my father, I think we were camping, and a man was fishing from the dock. He caught a fish, which I guess he didn’t want, because he ripped the hook out and threw it back in. Before he threw it back it languished on the dock a bit. I can still see the eye and it's gills move in an attempt to breathe.

I was dumbfounded by the lack of empathy or respect for the being he had held in his hands. In fact, it planted a seed for my desire to become a vegetarian. It wasn’t until I was much older that I learned people can kill and eat meat in a reverential way. I didn’t see anyone do so for at least 15 years.

I’m not going to call out my five gratitudes today, but I’m sure they’re in here. They include taking the time to write this out (even though it’s way past my bedtime and I just wanted to go to sleep) because I have a commitment to this process. I knew I had something to say, and I have a small audience for it that I greatly appreciate. And also there's that sweet man who is willing to try new things.

Monday, July 6, 2015

I don't have a title

#1 - Finding out that someone I respect bought her first swimsuit in years. She said she may never wear it, but the purchase itself is an act of faith, strength and life.

#2 - I printed a couple maps for my upcoming trip to North Carolina. I'm actually excited about them. I enjoy seeing daily life. Since I will be gone two weeks, I plan to wash clothes. So I found the closest laundromat to my last campground, and a nearby library.

#3 - I have plane reservations, campground reservations and, of course, reservations for the impetus to this trip (guitar and folk week). Today I made my last reservations - for a rental car.

#4 - I've never gone to live comedic show. I now have a 4th name - Hari Kondabolu - for the list of people I would be interested in seeing. Also included are: Ellen Degeneres, Paula Poundstone and Louis C.K.

#5 - A simple first sight - the back of the sweet man standing at his bathroom sink, shaving his face.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Only in the Movies

Years ago my friend asked me to go camping with her and her child/children when they got a little older because her husband doesn’t like to camp. Of course I would! We planned to go the last weekend in June and added my niece (as her 4th birthday present).
As the scheduled weekend approached, my friend’s husband decided he didn’t want to miss his son’s first camping trip. So the crew continued to expand. It ended up that the aforementioned four of us went up on Friday early afternoon and then on Saturday my friend’s husband, their 3 year old and the sweet man in my life joined us.

#1 – I asked my friend to take a photo of that man and I. I have meant to do so on more than one occasion, but as of yet I had zero pictures of him. I looked at the photo in my camera before I went to bed and was struck by how happy/beautiful I looked.

#2 – The rain which began during the second night, which quieted the campsite, but stopped before morning so that we could pack up in the sun and leave camping as a positive experience for the new/infrequent campers.

Note: This rain did not affect another noise. Sometime in the middle of the night I asked the man next to me, "Is that a car alarm or a bird?" We've both camped a lot but neither of us have heard such a sound. It was incessant and continuous and some sort of animal/bird. Apparently 4 year olds don't wake for such things, but us adults were all quite aware.

Additional Note: I have learned the bird was a whippoorwill.

#3 – The almost 6 year old didn’t want to go home – he was busy building a road in the dirt by our picnic table. My niece on the other hand, when I asked if she wanted to go home or go for another swim, whispered in my ear, “Go home.” She had a good time too, but 48 hours is a while to be gone from mom and dad.

#4 – Reading the sweet man, while sitting in a meditative position and staring into each other’s eyes, the gratitudes (one for each year of his life) that I’d written for him for his birthday. At the beginning I could tell it was a little hard to hear. He’d read them all before (I sent them in the mail a while back), but what do you do with so much goodness? It’s interesting because I was looking at some books by Harville Hendrix and Helen Hunt recently (a couple that writes about relationships). They have one called - Receiving love : transform your relationship by letting yourself be loved, whose whole premise is that sometimes it is actually difficult to let yourself be loved.

One of my gratitudes was about when we were at a park one evening with his kids and my niece. It was starting to cool off so he went to his car to grab a fleece long sleeve shirt. He came back and wrapped it over my shoulders even though I was already in long sleeves and he was in a t-shirt. As I read this gratitude to him today I added, “I thought they only did that in the movies.”

“Was that on there?” he asked.

I was touched that he was familiar enough with what I’d written to know I’d ad libbed.

#5 – My friend remarked, as she and I drove to the campsite, about a recent discussion with her husband about the sweet man and I and thinking that the next step for us was to move in together. As she said this I kind of shrugged my shoulders inside – maybe at some point. It didn’t feel like anything in the near future. Then two days later as I dragged on the process of leaving his place to go home, he finally said to me in the kitchen by the door, “If you’re not staying you need to go. Someone has to take charge here.” it suddenly felt a lot closer.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Big Decisions

#1 - My first gratitude today is that I don't make any big decisions - decisions that will affect the lives of 10 or 100 or a million.

It was supposed to be the opening day for the farmer's market. The market happens rain or shine. However lightning or high winds will cause a suspension of market operations. Even medium winds can be difficult to keep the tents in place. So this morning when we arrived for set-up at 6AM it was lightning. At 6:30AM we cancelled today's market. At 8AM when the market should open it was just light drizzle. At 10AM it was bright sun.

So was this the best decision? Probably not. Was it based on the info we had at the time and the radar showing another front coming through? It seemed to be.

It wasn't even my decision but I still feel a bit bad about it.

I'm glad I'm not in charge of anything monumental in this world.



#2 - Two girls showing me a floor plan diagram of how they want to rearrange their room. "When are you going to do this? Let's do it now."

#3 - The three of us stacking their two single beds back into a bunkbed while their dad made dinner in the kitchen. Then some leftovers from that dinner mysteriously ending up in my bag when I got home.

#4 - The girls and I biked to the store to pick out a father's day surprise (something they already planned to do and now could without their father since I was there). They picked out a card then searched for a gift. I made one minor suggestion on that which they readily jumped on.

#5 -

Child: Are you going to sleep over tonight?

Me: No. Do you want me to sleep over sometime?

Child: Yes, you can sleep with Daddy. He has a big bed.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Friday, June 5, 2015

Last Night's Poem

What are we waiting for
a crack of dawn amidst
this infinite silence?
I hear birds call, reason
has left the room and the humid
air moves across my bare skin.
Somebody told me once that silence
can be painful.  I
didn’t believe that story nor
the one that followed. 
You live in a place
where words follow the direction
of a tongue.  The place
 where darkness comes
behind the backlit leaves
is an invitation.  Turn off the light.  Turn off the light.
Turn off – what is holding you here – to this world
separated from wonder.