Sunday, December 30, 2012

Ending a Year of Intentional Thinking

Cairn: A mound of stones built as a memorial.
2012 was my year of intentional thinking. I set intention on a roll by focusing on a different intention each month. If you have followed this path with me, you will know we have improved our lives twelve times over. Here is the year in review:

I Intend…
* We sometimes forget about where we have been when looking at what we still have not done.

While I end the year of intentional thinking, intentions have become a reliable way of moving forward for me. Intentions are my choice and provide a more balanced approach to my life as I consider where I have been this year. Because there are always going to be those things we still have not done, let us all celebrate where we have been as we look forward to the year ahead.

Twelve photo courtesy of  Mrs Logic
* Thanks Viv for reminding me of this every now and then

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Special Occasions

We celebrate many things throughout the year: birthdays, anniversaries, various holidays and on and on. Each celebration denotes a special occasion for those of us doing the celebrating. Recently, I received a bag of holiday treats from my friend Ann. In large white lettering on each purple side, the bag seemed to be screaming, “Life is a special occasion!”

Ann’s goodies are always yummy and appreciated, but I was quite taken by the Hallmark, Inc., slogan on the bag. It made me smile and think, yes, yes it is. Life IS a special occasion. I now have the bag hanging from a doorknob inside my home to remind me of this very special message⎯just in case I get a bit caught up in whatever it is I am doing and forget.

While we mark our special occasions with celebrations, let us not forget to celebrate life. As I have noted on the bottom of the home page of this blog, “Each day is truly the best gift you can give yourself. Don’t waste it!” Celebrate each day because it IS a special occasion, and one you can share with others. Don’t wait for a bag to scream it at you.

Peace, love and light to you all this holiday season and every day.
Shruti celebrating Holi (Hindu festival of color) photo courtesy of Sukanto Debnath

Monday, December 17, 2012

A Lifesaver Sweet Story

One Christmas, when I was in elementary school, I received a Lifesavers Sweet Storybook as a gift. When I opened it up, inside were twelve rolls of Lifesaver candy ⎯six on each side of the book with each roll a different flavor. I treasured the sweet candy book as if each candy was a little jewel. Being someone who still had Halloween candy at Christmastime, I'm sure I had the little candy book for a good long while.

I hadn’t thought of this sweet gift for years, but during the last few Christmas holiday seasons, I have seen Lifesaver Storybooks popping up in many of the drugstore advertising flyers⎯although, there are now only six rolls of Lifesavers in each book. Whenever I see a picture of the storybook, I smile and feel a slight glow come over me. I think about how much I enjoyed this simple, inexpensive gift. I don’t remember the last time I had a roll of Lifesaver candies, and I only received the Storybook one Christmas, but it must have made a real impression on me.

I did not have the Lifesavers Storybook on my Christmas list that year. I have no idea what was on my list or what other gifts I received, but I do remember my little candy book. I share my sweet story to remind us all, simple is always best.  Oh, and my favorite little jewel⎯butter rum!
Photo courtesy of amanda_munoz

Monday, December 10, 2012

It’s Beginning to Look a lot Like Christmas

Yesterday I was hanging wreaths on the fence posts around my front yard. I do this each year to celebrate the holidays and the winter season. Although they are artificial, they look quite real, particularly when snow is hanging from them. About ten years ago, bundled up like a child heading out to play in the cold, I was hanging wreaths and heard Christmas carols being sung in the distance. As my neighbor and her two young boys pulled into their driveway, they finished their song and rolled up the car windows.

I was quite taken by this little moment in time. Not only did it put a smile on my face, I, too, started singing holiday tunes as I finished decorating my fence. Since then, each year as I hang my wreaths, I think back to that day and begin singing and humming away. It never fails to make me smile. I cherish this flash of holiday spirit and carry it with me each time I glimpse the wreaths hanging from my fence throughout the winter.

We do ourselves a disfavor during the holiday season, when it gets so crazy-busy, to not notice the little things making up the moments of our lives. It seems those simple moments add up to so much more than the big complicated ones

Little snippets of life connect like garlands decorating our lives. How will you decorate your life this holiday season? Is it beginning to look and feel a lot like Christmas?
Wreath photo courtesy of Clark family

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Simmering Love

Year after year it never fails, as we draw in the last days of autumn, the thought of a hearty bowl of homemade soup pulls me into the kitchen. Making soups, chowders, stews and chilies goes back to when I was a teenager. Yes indeed, I have been chopping away and throwing all sorts of food mixtures into a large pot for many years. You don’t even need a recipe. Some of the best soups I have made come from clearing out my refrigerator. I would consider it a bit difficult to make a bad soup when the ingredients going into the pot are those you love.

I enjoy the process of preparation as I set the ingredients out before me and start peeling, chopping, slicing and dicing. It is rather a Zen feeling as I focus on the matter at hand. Yes, for me, soup begins as a state of mind and moves my hands to create a bowl of simmering love. You heard me right; preparing a meal of any kind is a gift of love to those seated at your table. But the sheer simplicity of a bowl of soup seems to transcend all other food. I can almost taste the soup as I throw each ingredient into the pot. The moment I engage the sense of smell and taste the hearty concoction before me, this bowl of love warms me from the inside out.

Don’t let the thought of making soup strike fear in your kitchen. Engage your senses and nourish your spirit, join me in a bowl of simmering love; and don’t forget⎯any kind of soup is good for the soul.
All you need photo courtesy of Dennis Skley

Monday, November 26, 2012

December: I Intend to Count My Blessings

For many, December is a month of celebration; although, the expectations we all bring to the table can take the meaning out of any celebrating. So instead of focusing on overrated expectations, I intend to highlight my blessings every day in December. How will I go about doing this?

  • Each morning I will repeat my intention for the day. 
  • I will say thank you, and really mean it, throughout the day.
  • I will let others know how much they mean to me.
  • I will thank others for continuing to be a part of my life.
  • Each night I will repeat my intention and do a mental review of my day.

By counting my blessings, I intend to shine a light on all I am grateful for, and not get caught up in those things that really don’t matter in the end analysis. Join me as we wrap up our year of intentions with a month of focused daily blessings. By doing this, I guarantee December will bring many heartfelt moments, smiles and peace within.
Candlelight photo courtesy of Bracketing Life

Monday, November 19, 2012

Celestial Hug

Like planets orbiting around the sun, each of us have people who revolve around our lives. Some may be closer in, others further out, but orbiting indeed. At this giving time of the year, I am reminded of those in my life who are in need of more attention. These people usually drift along on the outer reaches of an orbit through choices of their own or present life circumstances. It is up to each of us to reach out, give them a big celestial hug, and remind them one very important thing: they matter!

"Reach out and touch somebody's hand make this world a better place if you can."
 Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson

Letting someone know they matter could just be one of the most important gifts you could give another human being. If you were struggling, due to whatever reason, wouldn’t you want someone to reach out to you?
Hug in hand photo courtesy of Dyanna Hyde

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Catching My Z's

"Your brainwaves have more structure when you are asleep than when you are awake. It’s kind of like defragmenting your hard drive, only it’s much more important.”
Dr. John Wilson, neurologist and co-director of the Sleep Lab at Loyola University’s Gottlieb Memorial Hospital in Maywood, Illinois

I think of my brain as an endless series of file cabinets. When I am more tired, I see these file cabinets with drawers open, files pulled out here and there, and papers scattered in all directions. Like my computer, the constant updating of information and the addition and deletion of files results in pieces, or fragments, of information floating around. This slows down my computer and my brain. I know when my brain is in this state because I tend to be more muddled, I make mistakes and become even more drained of energy. When my computer slows, I run a defrag program. When my brain becomes cluttered and I feel my energy lacking, it is time to defrag my brain by making sure I am getting the sleep my body needs.

“In studies of humans and other animals, they have discovered that sleep plays a critical role in immune function, metabolism, memory, learning, and other vital functions.”1

“Research has revealed that people who consistently fail to get enough sleep are at an increased risk of chronic disease.”2

Basically, if you don’t get your Z’s, you are more prone to a host of problems. Information on the benefits of sleep abounds, but for me, I know I feel better and function at my best when I catch 8 to 9 hours of hibernation time. I would like to have more awake time in my day, but I’m not doing myself any favors by cutting back on my sleep. Getting the Z's I need is a choice and keeps me balanced. My body works twenty-four hours a day, and sleeping is when I am able to let my body recover from what I may have put it through during the day. Sleep allows my body to heal.

With autumn daylight growing shorter, I feel my natural rhythms of sleep falling into step as I reset my internal clock. As these days gradually grow shorter, I feel more of a draw towards hibernating. Join me⎯defrag your brain by making sleep a priority, and discover the power of sleep⎯one Z at a time.
Patch taking a nap photo courtesy of mike@bensalem

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Tears of a Clown

The ghosts and goblins were out last week in celebration of Halloween, and my friend Lynn’s children stopped by for trick-or-treating. Her twelve-year-old daughter, Charlie, was unrecognizable under her rainbow striped clown costume, orange yarn wig, makeup and owlish looking swim goggles. Charlie was having a great time clowning around with her younger brothers. Later that evening, Lynn’s family got together with another family they know from church to trick-or-treat. Charlie assumed the two girls in the other family would be dressed for the occasion. Wrong! One of the girls was a year older and ignored Charlie, the other girl was a year younger and was busy with her own friends. Charlie tried to have a good time but she just could not pull it off.

At home, through tears, Charlie told her mom she couldn’t understand what she did wrong. Lynn spoke to her for a bit, but it didn’t seem to help much. Before too long, she could hear Charlie shouting to her brothers about sorting through the candy. Lynn said Charlie seemed to be her happy old self again.

Lynn and I were talking about how, at times in your life, you are caught between being a kid and being a grownup. Charlie got her first taste of what that is all about, and she figured out how to move on and make her own happiness. It’s really quite a sweet story, no pun intended, but we can all learn from Charlie. We should embrace those times in our life when we can feel like a kid again. It gets a bit stuffy being the grownup all of the time. And in those times when you can’t seem to find happiness, it is up to you to choose to turn things around. We cannot leave it to others to find happiness for us. Only we know what truly makes us happy. So don’t get caught clowning around without a smile, and any clown knows it can be dangerous shedding tears when wearing goggles.

I would like to thank Lynn for sharing Charlie’s story as a reminder to all of us.
Sad Clown photo courtesy of Pink Sherbet Photography

Monday, October 29, 2012

November: I Intend to Drop My Leaves

The leaves at home have started their annual migration as they release themselves from the trees and fall to the ground. By shedding their leaves, trees drop the potential of pests and disease following them into next years growing season. Let's just say it's Mother Nature's way of providing a healthy balance.

Like the trees, I will follow suit by dropping my leaves before the sap starts to rise. As we close in on the end of the year, I intend to drop any undesirable habits or negative mindsets I might have accumulated during this past year.

Now is the time to consider what leaves you might want to let fall to the ground. Join me, shed a leaf or two, and rid yourself of the pests you have accumulated. After all, Mother Nature knows best.
Red trees photo courtesy of joiseyshowaa

Monday, October 22, 2012

Name That Tune

“Lend me your ears and I’ll sing you a song, and I’ll try not to sing out of key.”
"With a Little Help From My Friends" Lennon/McCartney

I can name that tune in 3 notes, sometimes less. Really, I’m pretty good at it. My mom’s side of my family tree has music in their hearts. Whenever we get together, someone sits down at a piano or pulls out a guitar and starts to sing. We can’t help it⎯music seems to move us and comes from somewhere deep inside.

My Grandpa John seemed to be attached to his accordion. That is how I picture him today even though he died many years ago. I think he was happiest when he was with his family making music. We would all sing and play various instruments, and he would smile from ear to ear no matter what kind of sounds we were making. When I was a child, I wasn’t the performing type. I did what was expected of me at family gatherings, but it just was not my thing. I was much more comfortable with a baseball mitt in my hand, lobbing pitches over home plate or swimming down the stripes of a pool. Nonetheless, my mom made sure we were exposed to many different kinds of music, and seemed to always have music playing in our home as we grew up. Many nights I fell asleep to a stack of records playing in the background of my dreams. 

Whether oldies but goodies or rock and roll, song verses from somewhere in my past history come to mind when just a note or two, or a word or two float through my head. My husband says it’s a bit scary. Recently we were scrolling through Netflix movies, and I saw the title, Once a Jolly Swagman, roll by. Immediately my “Name That Tune” mind started searching words like an old jukebox listing in my brain. I said, “That movie title is in an old song.” My husband looked at me and just shook his head. I could not let the name go, and before you knew it, I was singing "Waltzing Matilde," …once a jolly swagman sat beside a billabong… Just a few weeks prior, in the background of a movie we were watching, I could barely hear a group of children singing some sort of tune. I started singing along but could not quite get the whole song to come to the surface. Low and behold, before I went to bed, I was belting out "The Gypsy Rover,"...ah dee doo ah dee doo dah day...

Music can set the beat of whatever I am involved with. Like the stack of records of my youth, I have music swimming in my head while I’m gardening, cooking, showering, skiing, running, and of course swimming. I have a tendency to hum and sing a little tune when I am happy. Although, I have found that planting a seed of a song when I am not so happy has a tendency to give me a lift.

Scary as it may be for my husband, the gift of music in my heart is happiness unfolding in a song. It is this can’t-help-it kind of happiness I embrace as each note leads to another. More of us need to let our voices sing and celebrate⎯whatever the song may be. The momentum of the song will lift your spirit and help move you through turbulent times. Name that tune and let music guide you through your dayeven if you do sing out of key. My grandpa would love it!
Music notes picture courtesy of Koji Minamoto

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Should've, Could've, Would've

A few weeks ago I was driving in a city I was unfamiliar with. I had two people riding with me. Ann needed to catch a bus at the city station; Kay needed to attend a meeting at work. All was great; I had turn-by-turn directions to the bus station on my smart phone. We made great time, exited the freeway, made a few turns, then oops⎯no directions on the smart phone. I was on a one-way street in heavy traffic, so I pulled over at the first opportunity and tried to get the last few turns back on the phone. I could not, for the life of me, go back to where I had been on the smart phone screen. I tried to start over and got nowhere, and I tried a GPS (Global Positioning System) application to no avail. In the meantime, I could hear tick-tock, tick-tock in my headwhat time was that damn bus leaving?

Finally, after much consternation and feeling my blood pressure going through the sunroof, Ann said she would get directions and hopped out of the vehicle. A moment later she returned with the comment, “When you need directions, ask a homeless person.” Off we went, and a few turns later, I was able to drop Ann off at her destination.

Tick-tock, tick-tock. Looking at the clock and feeling a bit more composed, I once again tried the GPS app on the smart phone. I had not used this particular application more than a time or two in the past, and had struggled with it just a few moments prior while I was having my complete technological breakdown. Now, more focused, I had the GPS babe calling out my turns while making my way back onto the freeway through the one-way downtown maze⎯simple, and easy. Oh, and Kay made it to her meeting with a whole minute to spare. Tick-tock.

I was not happy with how I handled this situation at all. I am a normally a more focused and composed person, but as all of us do at one time or another, I lost myself in the moment. Losing one’s self in the moment is great if it is an amazing moment⎯this was not even close to an amazing moment! Not wanting to be in this type of situation EVER again. I mentally reviewed what I should have, could have and possibly would have done differently.

  • I should have read through all of the directions before starting out. I could have had a better impression as to what I needed to do and would have more than likely arrived at the destination without pause.
  • I always print a hard copy to take with me when I need directions, but was unable to because I did not have an available printer⎯I could have made a few handwritten notes.
  • I should have known more about the available technology I hold in my hand. If not, then perhaps I could have done it the old fashioned way and carried a map.

Should have’s, could have’s, would have’s⎯not something I like to reflect on. Ultimately, rather than allowing the negative energy to escalate, I should have taken a time-out  to breathe and focus. I would have been able to think through the problem in a more rational manner. This doesn’t mean I won’t have another technological breakdown somewhere along the way, but at least I will know how to get to where I am going. If not, then I'll take it from Ann and ask a homeless person.
Which way to go photo courtesy of sjsharktank

Monday, October 8, 2012

On Being Vulnerable

My dad is disabled. One could say he is physically challenged. You see, he died 21 years ago this past July. There is not a July that goes by without a flood of thoughts about him flying by in my minds eye. I am fully aware of what July represents to me⎯the loss of one of my very best friends. I don’t dwell on his memory or go around morose on the anniversary of his death or anything like that. But I do find it interesting how many feelings crop up for me.

I think of him off and on throughout the year, but it is July when my loss seeps into so much of my life. We were much more than father and daughter. We were two peas in a pod, somehow an ageless connection. He got me, I got him⎯it was that simple. We shared many ups and downs of life, and it is that particular thing, the sharing, I miss through the ups and downs of my daily life without him.

It is interesting how vulnerable and disabled I am to these feelings as they percolate to the surface from time to time. I still think of him anytime I want to share the good or the bad news, as we always had in the past. As these thoughts surface, I smile to myself or comment to him out loud as I express myself to the universe.

I never know when a story, a song, a word or a glance from some unknown person will set my thoughts of him reeling. Sometimes these thoughts bring an immediate upwelling of tears. Again, I find myself chatting to the universe as I say, “Miss you dad.”

I know he is as much a part of me as he always has been. His little sayings or singsongs come to mind often. I smile to myself as I use them in my everyday chattering. Yes, I may be vulnerable to these feelings after all these years, but these feelings help keep me linked to one of the best friends a girl could have, disability withstanding.

Vulnerability crops up in our lives when we least expect it. This vulnerability can disable us if we allow it. Death gives us a glimpse of mortality and the fragility of life. There is nothing wrong with any of this, but it is up to us to realize it all for what it is, deal with it, somehow cherish it if need be and move on; after all, as my dad would say:

  • “It’s enough to make a man drink his own bathwater”
  • “Don’t take any wooden nickels”
  • “No skin off my teeth”
  • “Try and try again”
  • “Sometimes a little rain must fall”
  • “Onward and upward”
  • “Home again, home again jiggity-jog”

I write this in an attempt to deal with the fullness in my heart, which I carried in July of this year, as I celebrate the life of a man worth knowing. I now share my feelings with the electronic universe as I say, “Miss you dad.”

Note: the above dad sayings are phrases we have heard from past written words in rhyme, books and movies. These dad sayings must have meant a great deal to my dad as he used these and many more throughout his lifetime.
Together photo courtesy of Spirit-Fire

Sunday, September 30, 2012

October: I Intend to Encourage Others

We can all use a kick in the butt to get us moving in right direction. For whatever reason, at times we get lost and make the wrong choices. Maybe, we just need the proper motivation. This month, my full attention will be on the intention to encourage others⎯be it family, friend or foe, or perhaps the occasional stranger thrown in for good measure.

A few years ago, as I was parking at a grocery store, I happened to notice the person pulling into a space in front of me. As I hopped out of my car, I flashed this elderly gentleman a smile⎯as if to say hello, I notice you are there. He immediately ran around his truck in my direction and said, “Thank you, I needed that smile today.” He proceeded to tell me about his wife being ill and that he had to keep an eye on the young man traveling with him. It all seemed to be such a chore for this elderly gentleman. When he stopped telling me his story I said, “How fortunate for this young man that he has you, and enjoy the rest of your day sir.” I went about doing my grocery shopping. As I was heading down an aisle, I see the elderly gentleman poke his head around the corner at the other end. He ran down the aisle toward me with his young man in tow and said, “Thank you, I hadn’t thought of it that way!”

It just goes to show how just a few simple words of encouragement may gently or not so gently:
  • Transform a thought
  • Make a difference
  • Change an attitude
  • Alter a course
  • Modify a behavior
  • Build confidence
  • Adjust a mindset
  • Save a life…
This month I plan on highlighting the intention of encouraging others as I wake each morning. Perhaps the moment will present itself at some point in the day, or maybe I’ll pick the person I want to encourage as the intention crosses my mind in the morning. However it happens, a few encouraging words in the right direction just may inspire someone to move in the right direction. Let an encouraging word highlight your day as you help me kick some butt this month.
Kick Butt photo courtesy of teeejayy

Monday, September 24, 2012

One Turkey of a Summer

I say one turkey of a summer, but there are actually five⎯and I’m not talking about relatives or friends. Yes, this was the summer of honest to goodness turkeys⎯as in the bird. My neighbors have had domestic turkeys for the past few years. This year, seven newly hatched poults figured out they could fit through their fence. Mamma turk decided she needed to be with her poults, so over the fence she flew. The seven turks didn’t make it two weeks before predators reduced the number of the brood to three, and months later there are still three. After the two-week brood reduction, one of the other hens decided she should join this new free-ranging family⎯and who could blame her.

I have thoroughly enjoyed watching this odd family of five turkeys gradually pace back and forth through our property. It’s really quite meditative as I watch them. Ah, the “zen” of turkeys! They slowly roam and peck their way along, as if on a grid, “with a cluck-cluck here and a cluck-cluck there,” that even old MacDonald of farm fame would be proud of. I understand chickens aren’t the only cluckers and it’s the male tom turkey who gobbles⎯hmm, who knew.

As I watch the mamma hen, I see how patient and protective she is. My neighbor tells me her first brood did not survive. By free-ranging, she seems to have learned a thing or two⎯become one with her surroundings. Her response to fear, with a dog or coyote literally on her tail, is instinctive and sharp. She reacts when necessary, and then goes back to what it was she was doing, shedding her fears. She truly has captured the meaning of "it is what it is" by dealing with whatever it is and moving on.

This clucking family of five has brought many smiles and hours of zen-filled entertainment. As I move into fall and celebrate one turkey of a summer, I will consider the free-ranging patience I have been reminded of. I will also reflect on the importance of letting go of fear⎯before, during and after whatever "it is" that has caused the disturbance of patience, and thereby peace, in my life. By keeping patience and a sense of peace in front of me, I will be able to become one with my surroundings, wherever I may be.

Summer is over and I am back to my weekly postings. I’ve missed sharing my meanderings with you. Join me as I begin my third year of blogging.
Female Wild Turkey courtesy of Andrea Westmoreland

Friday, August 31, 2012

September: Intend to Set Boundaries

With summer winding down this month, I too need to wind down. This time of the year I have a tendency to try and squeeze in too many things with what time there is left. Last month, by creating an island of calm, I may have let a few things slide. Oops and oh well! The best thing for me this month is to remind myself to set boundaries and focus on that which is most important before summer’s end, and I’m not just talking about work-oriented things but the fun stuff too!

In order for me to be at my best, it is best for me to intentionally create my own boundaries. I will do this by consciously choosing what it is I need and want to do. As I go about each day, I will strive to be an active participant in what it is I do. As with all my intentions, it helps to start the day by planting the seed of intention in my brain. Throughout the rest of the day, I am able to feel my best self take-hold each time I consciously choose my intention.

Setting boundaries, limits, restrictions, or whatever you want to call it, helps me focus and gives me permission to make the best choices for me. How about you? Will you give yourself permission to be an active participant in your life?

Girl in Stripes photo courtesy of D. Sharon Pruitt

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

August: I Intend to Create an Island of Calm

“It’s a smile, it’s a kiss, it’s a sip of wine, it’s summertime, sweet summertime!”
Kenny Chesney

When the warmer days of August finally roll around, I start feeling anxious. I get the feeling summer is almost over before it really has gotten a chance to even begin. I plan on changing that anxious feeling this year by changing my attitude. This is my choice and I intend to create a summer island of calm. On my summer island of calm there is no end until I say so, or perhaps I give into the musty smells of fall days as they gently pull and coax me into the next season.

My summer island of calm includes some of the very best of summertime:

  • A nap or two in a hammock swinging in the breeze
  • Reading a book I cannot put down
  • The flavors of mint and basil in my morning smoothie
  • Many helpings of fresh seafood
  • An obscenely large ice-cream cone
  • The smell of a barbeque hissing and spitting away
  • Flashes of garden color and scents so sweet they fill me with sunshine
  • Gliding along on a paddle board or kayak
  • The crack of a watermelon as I begin to cut into it
  • Lounging in the warmth of the day
  • Gentle breezes billowing the curtains within my home
  • A chorus of bird songs playing in the background
  • The taste of a juicy tree ripened peach
  • An ice cold drink of whatever stirs my fancy
  • Time lost in the company of friends/family

What will your island of calm include? Choose for yourself and create an island of calm today. You must start your day with the intention: I intend to create an island of calm. Let the invocation surround you with calmness each day this month. Bask in the endless days of summer.

 Water Nymph photo courtesy of Steve Jurvetson

Sunday, July 1, 2012

July: I Intend to Try Something New

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do.
So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor.
Catch the trade winds in your sails.
Explore. Dream. Discover."
Mark Twain

There are times in all our lives when we long to try something new and break the strains of routine. Perhaps it is as simple as a new hairstyle⎯especially when you have been wearing the same one since high school! Whether you are in a rut or just want to see what it’s like, whatever that something might be, this is the month to dream, explore and discover.

When vacationing in Hawaii, I would occasionally see a person standing on what looked like a surfboard, paddling their way along smooth water bays. It looked effortless and somehow seemed as if they were walking on water. Lately, I have noticed these stand-up “surfers” on lakes around my home. Watching them glide through the water looked like it might be akin to aquatic meditation.

This month, I intend to try something new by taking a stand up paddling (SUP) lesson. Perhaps I will really enjoy it and add it to my repertoire of “things I do.” On the other hand, I might find it really isn’t my cup of tea, but I will have thrown off the bowlines and given it a try. No longer will I want to know what it is like. No longer will I wonder if I could do it. This is the month!

When I wake each morning, I will remind myself of my intention. I will dream, explore and who knows what I’ll discover. Sail with me away from your safe harbor of procrastination. Don’t just dream it. Figure out how you can do it and go for it!

Photo courtesy of Nick Hewson

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

June: I Intend to Stretch Time

Tick-tock, tick-tock⎯we all know time has a way of getting away from us whether we are doing something enjoyable or not. As June begins to roll by and turns into summer, Mother Nature provides us with longer days, so I aim to make the most out of whatever I am doing. I am going to add just a bit more time to my day to enjoy what is happening in my world.

How does one stretch time? As with all my monthly intentions, when the light of the day comes into focus, I will focus on the intention of stretching time. As I find myself stretching time, I will remind myself of my intention⎯this should prove to be infectious. By stretching time, I will slow down and take heed of the moment⎯I will be mindful. This mindfulness will be good for me as it will assist me in letting go and just being in and of the moment. I intend to stretch time while…

  • Meditating
  • Drinking my morning cup of tea or coffee and listening to the birds as I sit on my front porch,
  • Enjoying friends, family or my dear husband,
  • Holding my yoga poses and breathing deeply,
  • Taking a break from anything work or chore related,
  • Having a glass of wine,
  • Doing whatever it is I would appreciate more time with!

In March my intention was giving myself time. I look at giving time and stretching time to be similar but different. Time unto itself is an issue for everyone. It takes gentle reminders in my life on a regular basis for me to get in touch with it once again. As time passes, it is what it is, but why not grasp every tick of the clock and be present. I am going to stretch time and enjoy every last second. Shall we grasp the hands of the clock together and enjoy the longer days good old Mother Nature has given us? Tick-tock, tick-tock...

I will suspend my weekly posts until fall, but will continue to share my monthly intentions at the beginning of each month. Enjoy the summer ahead!
Time photo courtesy of Alan Cleaver

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Thriving and Growing

“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt."
Margaret Atwood

When the rains of the fall season started last October, my husband and I planted a small grove of deciduous trees. These were all cuttings we had received from friends, which I rooted in pots the previous spring. As of the last few weeks, I am happy to report that all cuttings have new leaves.

I love starting new plants, whether by seed, cuttings or simply dividing the root mass. Although, it’s the propagation of shrubs and trees over the years that really gives me a certain sense of wonder and satisfaction. There is truly something magical about planting a small tree and watching it thrive and grow. The soil on our place is made up of rock and clay. It is definitely an experiment in “tough love” when one plants anything in it. With my patient hands, and yards and yards of compost, I have learned how to give plants the love and care they need.

Of the many things gardening has taught me over the years, patience has been one of its greatest gifts. It takes patience beyond measure to watch a tree cutting grow into a mature specimen. I have taken this patience and spread its seeds into many areas of my life. With patience, I grow, I thrive. When one is patient, and smelling like dirt, life has a way of rewarding us one leaf at a time.
Photo courtesy of Nate Steiner

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Lilacs in Bloom

Lilacs and the month of May go hand in hand. My light purple lilac bush has started to bloom. Each year the heady fragrance evokes memories of days gone by. I gently hold the panicle of blooms in my hand as I draw the scent deep within. When I do this, I can detect a slight taste on my tongue of what must be the taste of light purple. There is no other scent like that of a lilac in bloom⎯and one must simply adore the mere presence of any shrub with heart shaped leaves.

As I draw in the intoxicating scent each May, the movie reels of my mind begin to play and I am drawn back to:
  • The lilac shrubs in the backyards of my childhood⎯as they would beckon me to leave winter behind to join them outside to play⎯many a mud cake was decorated with these fine flowers.
  • The May procession down the center aisle of our church⎯when the statue of mother Mary was crowned with lilacs, and huge bouquets of lilacs filled the church with spring and the scent I so adore.
  • The huge light purple lilac shrub growing at one end of the clothesline on the backside of my grandparent’s home⎯the very plant my light purple lilac bush originates from.
  • Giving a bouquet of lilacs to my mommy on Mother’s Day⎯which she lovingly accepted even if those were the only flowers growing on the shrub.
  • The white double lilac bush currently just waiting to bloom and memories of the home my husband and I once lived in⎯and yes, where my white double lilac originated from.
Such memories remind me of the rhythm of the seasons⎯month-to-month, day-to-day. Scent is such a powerful enchantress. She gives us the surprise of bygone days and brings us back to those moments when we least expect it or just seem to need it. So take a breath, and draw the scent deep within.

Photo courtesy of nightmares in technicolor

Monday, May 7, 2012

Faking It

I have to admit there are times when I fake it. I’ve faked it:
  • first thing in the morning and last thing at night,
  • in the car, on a plane and a train,
  • while talking on the phone,
  • in the garden, and more than once hiking in the woods,
  • looking in a mirror,
  • during several parties, a lecture or two and a musical Broadway hit,
  • in the changing room at the department store,
  • while at the gym
  • sitting, standing, lying down and every possible position in between,
  • at school, work and multiple times in every room of my home.
In fact, I fake it wherever and whenever I possibly can, and I know I’ll fake it again and again. Why? Because by faking it, I might just begin to enjoy it for real⎯and real is what we are all looking for. It is the feeling we are trying to express, and if slapping a smile on my face is what it takes to motivate me towards happiness, joy, or something close to it⎯I’m going to:
  • smirk,
  • beam,
  • show my dimple or that twinkle in my eye
  • and grin from ear to ear.
So how about you, where do you fake it? You can tell me⎯I know you want to.

Photo courtesy of Pulpolux

Monday, April 30, 2012

May: I Intend to Turn My World Upside Down

I am a very routine oriented person. I actually feel better when I get up, eat and head to bed about the same times each day. I find that routine helps me work discipline into my life; otherwise, I would lack the structure I need to keep up with the housekeeping or do my workout routines⎯aha, there’s that word again. Could routine be getting in my way though?

I am so routine oriented, I just might miss out on something better, fun, new or just plain different.

Spring is always a great time to start something new, so this month I intend to change my routine and tweak it just a bit. No longer will my routine be repetitive, predictable or monotonous. Here are a few routine busters I am considering:

  • Brush my teeth with the opposite hand - this will force my brain to think differently, it will be good for building better coordination and not to mention having a good laugh.
  • Drive, walk or run a different route to work, home or wherever - who knows what I'll discover just around the corner?
  • Shop for groceries or clothing at a different store - I might find something I have been searching for.
  • Try a new recipe - it could become a new favorite.
  • Eat dessert first - I know, it will spoil my meal⎯oh well!
  • Order a menu item I wouldn’t normally consider - expanding my tastes sounds good to me.
  • Completely change whatever I had planned on doing - what a surprise!

This intention will not only tweak my brain, but also pave the way for changes. Who knows what fun I’ll have this month turning my world upside down. You can turn your world upside down too by starting each day with the thought: I intend to turn my world upside down. This intention is guaranteed to breathe new life into the old repetitive, predictable and monotonous routines. What will your routine busters be?

Photo courtesy of Care_SMC

Monday, April 23, 2012

Words to Live By

Before you say anything, ask yourself:
Is it kind? Is it true? Is it useful?
(Buddhist principle)

It is the simplicity of this principle that drives it home to my very core. As I consider it, I have to ask myself why I might even think of saying something unkind, not true or not useful? What is my intention? When I do this, I learn more about who I am, then I can ask myself if this is who I want to be?

When I focus on my intention, at any given time, it wakes me up. Words have the ability to fill me with motivation or not⎯it is my choice. Wake up and join me⎯find the motivation behind the words. Simply ask yourself:

Is it kind?
Is it true?
Is it useful?

Photo courtesy of Helga Weber

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Back to the Table

As I was enjoying waffles bathed in real maple syrup this morning, I thought back to a Teflon coated waffle iron we had received in the 1970’s as a wedding gift. I loved the waffles my mom and Grandma Mary used to make. Any waffles I had from my childhood slid right off the surface of the non-Teflon griddles. Instead, my waffles cooked right into this non-stick surface. If you haven’t chipped away at waffles cooked into a griddle, you have no idea how awful a waffle can be. I tried different recipes and different oiling techniques for the non-stick⎯ha, surface. I discussed my waffle madness problems with my mom and my grandma, and still I was chipping away at my awful-waffle iron. It was so horrific to clean this thing, I finally threw it away. So, I made pancakes instead.

Years passed, my grandma passed, and I now have her waffle iron. This waffle iron is a 1929 Hotpoint/General Electric chrome griddle, which sits on a chrome tray with butterscotch Bakelite handles and the original electric cord⎯it’s a beauty. Yes, I said 1929! I know this because my grandma always said it was as old as my uncle. I’ve used the griddle for years now. I never have had to oil it, as it is well seasoned and makes perfect waffles every time.

Whenever I use this griddle, I think of my grandma, I think of little me sitting at the blue Formica and chrome kitchen table eagerly awaiting a waffle on my plate, I think of my uncle as a baby from pictures my grandpa had taken and how glad I am to still have my uncle in my life, and I think of all the wonderful waffles my family has enjoyed over the years. It is such a simple thing⎯a waffle, but it has brought many a family member to the table over the years. That is something we seem to have less of. Perhaps it is time to get family back to the table. Perhaps it is time to serve up a well-seasoned waffle, pancake or whatever and start a new tradition; one that someone, like me, can remember even after my well-seasoned grandma has passed.
Photo courtesy of Brendan C