A Snapshot of I Can’t Remember

celebrating or regrouping

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I came across this picture the other day and am trying to remember why the heck I took it.  I didn’t take it with my phone but with my heavy, bulky, big-girl Canon . . . which further tells me that this was a special moment that I wanted to record with my “good camera.”

Weird.  I’m not sure but I think that I was celebrating, having just moved into a fantastic temporary beachfront rental for what turned out to be four exquisite months.  This transition was one of those ideas that had been on my Wish List for years: Live on the beach during the stormy winter months to write.  This recent move Continue reading

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Vaporizing the Grumpies

maya-angelou-quoteI was on the ferry this morning feeling kind of grumpy.  Well, really grumpy actually.  The boat was running super late due to the crew performing practice emergency drills at the dock — some kind of MARSEC moment that put the crew through a feigned tizzy in the event of a credible security threat.

I was doing walk-on this morning and wishing that I had opted to drive on.  Brrrrrr!  It was cold.  I stood on the dock in the winter rain, cold, and wind for the added 15+ minutes, awaiting the go-ahead to board and wishing I had worn more winter layers.  I stood there, my back to the biting wind, my numb fingers texting Continue reading

Don’t Give Up Your Poetry

IMG_3112. true directionsExistence.  Being-ness.  Reality.  Mindfulness.  Presence.  Universal Time.  Whatever you call it, this Force we call Life has an inimitable way of standing silently behind us, removing its hands from our eyes, and bringing the unexpected to us in the most curious of ways.  Its gloved hands fly away from our eyes and behold!  This is now your life, lovely person.  Now what are you going to make of it? 

That’s the thing about Life.  It offers startling choices . . . even when our stuck-o-meter is flailing and railing wildly in the red zone.  Surprise can Continue reading

Things that make me happy: my new friend, Rico

 

Meet Rico.  I was working away at my office in town when who came in to make my acquaintance?  Rico!  Rico poked his head in to say, “Hello!  Life is good!  I see you!”  There is something about this face that says so much.  All you have to do is look in Rico’s eyes and you feel seen and heard.  Dogs.  They are beauties on earth.

“Dogs are angels sent from heaven

in order to help us to be better people.” – Robert Genn

“Angels are often disguised as dogs.”

“My earth angel came to me as a loving pet.”

“Please, let me be the person my dog thinks I am.”

10 Things I LOVE About Dogs:

  1. Dogs don’t judge.
  2. Dogs are always there to comfort and reassure.
  3. Dogs have a great sense of humor and they like to make us laugh.
  4. Dogs know more about my life than we do.
  5. Dogs have a keen sense of intuition that is reliably trust-able.
  6. Dogs know how to be in the present moment.
  7. Dogs are patient.
  8. Dogs are kind and empathetic.
  9. Dogs are beautiful — on the inside and on the outside.
  10. Dogs are warm and cozy and they smell good after it has rained.

Calling all dog lovers!

What do you love about dogs?  Please, share one (or more!) thing that you love about your dog or about dogs in general in the comments section.  Share your happiness about dogs with us, please!

 

Never underestimate the power of perspective. It can change everything.

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When you change the way you look at things,

the things you look at change.

Perspective.  What is it?

perspective: (noun)

  1. the art of drawing solid objects on a two-dimensional surface so as to give the right impression of their height, width, depth, and position in relation to each other when viewed from a particular point.

  2. a particular attitude toward or way of regarding something; a point of view.

Perspective. 

These two definitions connect well together and grab my attention.   Perspective as an art form and as a particular attitude.

As an art form, perspective is used to Continue reading

Spiralized Motion, Elevation, & Beauty = Baby Steps

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Baby Steps  

Baby Steps are immeasurable according to the Theory of Irrelativity.  Their measure includes added volume and weight that an ordinary distance cannot carry.  Sometimes the very smallest of steps in the right direction are enough to cancel out those giant steps that you feel were taken in less-desirable directions.  And these redeeming baby steps can end up being the biggest steps of your life.  Why?  Because you are honoring you, your preferences, and your well being.  There is nothing that says I love you, little ol’ Self like taking a baby step in the right direction.

My affirmation last month was one that surprised me.  It wasn’t prompted by any particular incident, writing, or reading.  It was like my Higher Self spoke to me in the plainest of terms in a louder-than-usual voice:

“I am brave enough to love myself.”  

This affirmation left a water mark, as I don’t believe that I have ever linked bravery to self-love.  In hindsight, I am guessing that I have always associated self-love with acts, rewards, success, attitude, generosity, earned deserved-ness . . . but not bravery.

As the month passed and I repeated my affirmation, I began to see how being brave could make a big difference in how I honor my preferences, my priorities, and my choices.

By being brave, I put myself forward into an Unknown that I intuitively trust.  And I take baby steps.  

And these baby steps do not feel like they are taking me in any linear path that can be measured in mileage, hours, or dollar signs.  They are taking me in an upward spiral that condenses the journey into a tightly-coiled experience that I can now see resembles what we call life.

I used to think of my stand-out memories in terms of fence posts.  I go through life with my tool belt and my wire . . . stringing wire until I reach the next fence post that snags my memory’s attention.  I pause while I attach the wire and then start walking toward some mysterious and unknown fence post that will make itself known in some splashy manner.

seashell-754015_960_720Now?  I am no longer thinking in such linear terms.  The spiral that this shell represents in this image is taking me on a different kind of journey that, rather than leading me away from anything, is leading me upward and closer on a tighter and tighter spiral.

“We have already climbed many steps . . .” Herman Hesse is right: It does indeed feel like I have already climbed many steps . . . but when I take a step off the spiral and take a good look and pause to reflect . . . it does look like there has definitely been some elevation gain — which explains so many things.  No wonder I get tired, out of breath, discouraged, and fatigued sometimes.  I am only human and this is the only life that I have.  Rather than thinking of life being on some kind of vertical timeline, I am shifting my symbol-delegating thoughts to something that has motion, elevation, and beauty: a spiraling shell.  “We are not going in circles, we are going upwards.”

My new affirmation for this month?

I am brave enough to spiral upward.

 

Freedom + Experience ∑ Education: Putting My True Self into the Equation of Education

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Purpose: (noun) “the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists”

Method: (noun) “orderliness of thought or behavior; systematic planning or action”

Purpose and Method.  Reason and Action.  Motivation and System.  I am a firm believer in the profound power of Experiential Learning Theory — a theory of learning that focuses on learning  through reflection on doing while incorporating previous experiences as guide, teacher, and mentor.  It involves being creative in the learning process and constructing meaning from the experience.  It isn’t that this theory is kind of fuzzy or that it needs to be proven.  Good common sense and Continue reading

Salad Spinner Mindfulness

grow your mindI caught myself fretting this morning.  Fretting about nothing, really.  In an attempt to distract myself and put all of this fretting aside, I now sit here in one of my favorite coffee shops and, the same as most days,  put words on paper.  Rarely do I sit here and do nothing.  Mainly I think.  Ideas and memories and perceptions are tossed around in some Binary Amphitheatre of the Surreal and the Real, whirling them around and shooting them out onto the page in salad-spinner style.

I find myself in this divergent universe . . . Continue reading

The Things I Thought I Wanted: Real Barbie Paper Dolls or a Deeper Authenticity?

paper-dollsBarbie Paper Dolls.  Oh my.  How I wanted these!  Of course I look back on this grand desire of mine and I wonder why.  I ask myself why this wonder woman with the impossible figure, cute clothes, and a long string of suitors so caught my attention . . . but maybe I just answered my own question.  Barbie was, and very well might still be, the paragon of Cool and Smart.  A model of Beauty and Sophistication.  Fun and Adventure.

And she had the cutest clothes and shoes.  Maybe it was this that so drew me into her Barbie world of pink Corvettes and hip pool parties.  It was only implied that Barbie was wealthy, but how else could a girl be so cool, perpetually-unemployed, always ready to party, and have any boy she wanted.  Her Funhouse did not come with a bundle of Barbie-size funny money, but we could all imagine her taking a bath in a tub of $100 bills.  In short, Barbie was pretty danged cool to a little girl living in a North Dakota farm town.

In an effort to assist me in my realizing the Barbie Dream, my Big Sisters made us our own homemade paper dolls.  These facsimiles may have failed miserably in the Cool Factor, but they made up for it exponentially in the Effort Department.  While Mattel was not about to go busting down our door to rob us of our yet-to-be-patented North-Dakotan version of Barbie (a doll that swore freely in Polish, wore galoshes, and whipped up funeral hotdish to take to the church in her Barbie kitchen), the Dakota dolls earned an A+ in creativity and fine craftsmanship.

The dolls were made by meticulously cutting out desirable models featured in magazine advertisements, which were then glued to the equivalent of light poster board.  I remember the girls using the light cardboard insert that came packaged with my father’s new shirts or the empty cereal boxes from the kitchen.  Gluing the models to the cardboard was cause for concentration.  It involved using the just-right amount of glue to prevent bubbling and wrinkling in the wrong places.  We’re talking Knock-Off Barbies here with the end goal of Barbie Perfection, and the dolls could not afford an unseemly bubble or wrinkle in an inappropriate place.

After the glue had thoroughly dried, the laborious task ensued of cutting out the outlines of the dolls and the tricky spaces between the arms and the body for those models who held their hands on their hips.  This was all done with blunt-tip school scissors and a pair of dull sewing shears that my mother kept by her sewing machine.  We could not afford fancy craft knives, and our parents were not about to entrust the Big Girls with a box cutter.  They used what they had, and I have to hand it to them for keeping a steady hand.  While it would have been easier to have dolls with their arms glued to their sides or completely away from their bodies, the Big Girls were committed to their craft and kept the arms-akimbo models alive in our collection.

Next came the clothes.  The dolls were traced to typing paper, and then cute dresses and pant suits were drawn and colored.  My sisters had this process down.  I suspect that there was a fair measure of failed attempts before they learned to put the doll face down on the paper so that the tracing lines could not be seen in the dress or top.  Again, those arms-akimbo spaces had to be cut out carefully from all fashions.  I now know why so many of the outfits were sleeveless — thus removing the necessity of cutting those spaces out of fragile paper.

paper dolls III.jpgAnd all I can say is a resounding Chapeau! to my sisters for learning how to place the fold tabs just so, ensuring that the dolls’ outfits would stay put and not just fall off.  I am sure that Ken would have appreciated the latter consequence, but the big girls were fashionistas who wanted their designs to remain on the dolls.  It was a lesson in critical thinking and trial-and-error, is all that I can think.  I remember when one of my big sisters learned that if you cut the fold tabs with an added angle, the clothes stayed on even better.  I fully expected this sister to go on and become a Barbie-style engineer, such were her talents with the Barbie clothes.  Such was not the case, but she grew into one sharp cookie when it comes to design.

The sisters made faux-mink stoles and evening gowns.  Gingham dresses and sweater sets.  They made outfits for a picnic and for the repetitive First Dates with Ken.  All I can say is Ken must have had a lot of imagination to create the illusion of a first date over and over and over.  Either this or Barbie had suffered amnesia as a result of crashing her pink convertible.  Still, either option explains why Barbie didn’t stray from Ken. Ken kept the relationship alive.

Ultimately, the dolls cut from the ads became templates for my sisters moving on in the design world and creating their own paper dolls from scratch.  These dolls included Barbie’s trademark ponytail swirl and other popular hairdos at the time.  They drew faces on the dolls and cleavage that would peek out of an evening gown.  Some of the faces represented some of Modigliani’s or Picasso’s earlier work, but I didn’t care.  And in spite of knowing that these dolls were a far cry from the delicate-featured authentic Barbie paper dolls, they certainly made me feel included — like I was part of a Girls Club that was all about being creative with what we had and not focusing on what we didn’t have.

paper-dolls-iiLooking back, I wonder if I didn’t intuit and recognize a Deeper Authenticity in the paper dolls that my sisters made.  What started out as Barbie knock-offs became their own style, their own brand.  I remember them discussing which models from the ads would make a better sample or how to make a more tab-friendly swim suit.  Perhaps it was the fashion discussions or watching their faces filled with preoccupation as they cut and traced that drew me in.  Perhaps it was the girl-power camaraderie to which they allowed me, littlest sister, entrance.

I remember the dolls’ edges becoming mildly curled from an over-zealous pencil tracing the dolls one too many times for the Fashion Department.  Once the edges on a doll began to curl, the clothes didn’t stay on so well . . . so new dolls needed to be made.  And I, being the youngest and most lacking in fine motor skills, received the cast-off dolls.  Talk about a win-win.

My preference now?   What I wouldn’t give to come across some of the paper dolls that my sisters made.  Alas, our house suffered a fire after we moved into town from our drafty, roomy, once-upon-a-time boarding house on the prairie. No paper dolls were recovered. But they live in my memory.  And in my admiration for my big sisters who knew how to get creative when resources were scanty.  I thought I wanted fancy and new and Mattel-sanctioned dolls that every other little girl in the consumer market had . . . but what I really wanted, and received, was the love from the Big Girls who were nice enough to include me in their World of Fashion and Creativity.   Thank you, Sissies.  I remember your creative kindness.  It is the sort of thing that I will always want and treasure.

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10 Ideas a Day

use-your-idea-musclesThis is a good-to-watch TED talk from James Altucher.

His main points are really good to note:

If you don’t make the choices in your life, then someone else is going to end up making them for you.  Someone else is going to end up making the choices for you, and they aren’t going to be as good as the choices that you make for yourself.

Failure is unpleasant.  View it as an experiment.

4 distinct things that were working for him when he was on the way up:

1. Take care of your physical health: Sleep well, eat well, exercise well, laugh more.  Make improvements incrementally that will improve your physical health.

2. Take care of your emotional health: Be around people that you love and trust and be around people that love and trust you.

3. Spiritual/creative gratitude: Complaining is draining.  Express gratitude.  Look on the sunny side.

4. Use your idea muscles.  Use a waiter’s pad. Write down 10 ideas every day.  Become an idea machine.

5. Share your ideas.  Come up with 10 ideas for someone . . . for “x.”  Give your ideas away with no expectation of them sharing back with you.  Life changes by spreading your ideas like currency.

Interesting ideas.  I especially like the idea of writing down 10 ideas every day and then giving them away.  Altucher promises that life will change if we are generous with our ideas.  Sounds good to me.  For someone who keeps notebooks in every bag, purse, and pocket, I especially like #4.  Now . . . the trick will be how to give them away.

I am not sure how this will materialize into action — this idea of giving away ideas — but I like the idea of thinking of ideas as currency.  If ideas are currency, then many people I know and love are rich and wealthy.  Idea Rich.  I like it.

Woot!  This makes me wealthy beyond wonder.  Do I have ideas?  Yes.  I have been told that I have too many ideas and not enough follow through.  Hmmmmm . . . maybe this is someone speaking who is simply envious of my wealth.  Someone who wishes that s/he, too, could come up with a real purpose for dark matter or who could contrive an extraordinary purpose for eggshells or who could invent a gizmo for churning garbage disposal waste directly into the garden as compost.

Ideas.  They are the things that grow and that grow us.  We conceive them and then are oftentimes daunted by them.  Who wants them?  What do we do with them?  How do we implement them?  How do we move them out of notebooks and into the hands of people who will develop them into reality?

After all, I read once that there are Innovators and Implementers.  And rarely shall the twain meet.  I am an Innovator.  It only follows that it is time to find an Implementer.  Caution All Implementers: Ideas Ahead.

I don’t know. This is all tricky stuff for an Innovator.  We are idea-based, not roll-up-your-sleeves-based.  But it is time to start giving Ideas away.  Perhaps not entirely unsolicited.  I don’t want to wax eloquent to the stranger next to me on the ferry about my brain storm for the next Super Bowl ad . . . I can see them switching seats now.  But I actually have one.  It involves breakfast cereal and babies and all sorts of action moves.  There.  I just gave away one of my more brilliant ideas.  Sweet!  Only 9 more to share before the day is over.

 

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