Friday, May 28, 2010

Informed or Affected?

Louise at Recovery Your Joy, included this in her post this morning and it was so meaningful to me that I wanted to share it.
Ken Wilber, philosopher, psychologist and a founder of the Integral Institute, suggests that when a person or thing in our environment informs us, when we receive what is happening as information or a point of interest, we probably aren't projecting. On the other hand, if what they are doing, or what is happening affects us, if we're pointing our fingers and judging or we're "plugged in" in ways that engage our emotions negatively, chances are that we are a victim of our own projections.
Recently I think I've been more affected than informed.  I've found myself in conversations about banks, Arizona, tax rates and other political issues where I was definitely being judgmental and affected, getting riled up about things that I had no intention of trying to actually change.  I was just venting my projection.

So, now I'm going to stop ... or at least be more aware of the distinction between being informed and being affected.   I'm also going to try to stop passing my projections along to others.  It may be hard.  The "aren't the politicians (of whatever persuasion), the banks, the media ... the whatever ... stupid," is a form of socializing and bonding but it is also projecting all that venom across the landscape.  My game stops here.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Lust? Sloth? Pride? Gluttony? Be Gone All of Ye!

Evil thoughts about your neighbor?  Lustful musings about a cute behind?  Feel guilty about sneaking the last lemon creme out of the Valentine's box?  Worry no more, wipe the slate clean by confessing to the blessed mother Gabby who promises you redemption and a squeaky clean soul.  You don't even have to slip into a confessional ... just head over to and confess away.  What could be easier?

Political (or Religious) Disclosure:  I've already confessed my sin of irreverence ... please forgive me if I have offended you in any way.

About the image:  A view from the Stations of the Cross at San Luis, Colorado


Thought for today:

"If I were to wish for anything, I should not wish for wealth and power, but for the passionate sense of the potential, for the eye which, ever young and ardent, sees the possible.  Pleasure disappoints, possibility never." 
  -- Soren Kierkegaard

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Private Struggle of the Artist

"One may have a blazing hearth in one's soul and yet no one ever comes to sit by it.  Passersby see only a wisp of smoke rising from the chimney and continue on their way."
 -- Vincent Van Gogh

One of my favorite email newsletters comes from artist Robert Genn.  It's always full of tips and advice, not only on art techniques but on the life of an artist ... and life in general.  This morning he quotes a letter he received from Keith Wright, an Australian artist who despairs his life as an artist. "I have a studio full of paintings and a wife who denigrates my career. I have no money, no sales, no hope. I can no longer believe in myself because no one else believes in me." he says.

I look at his art and wonder why he's not selling ... his work is lovely.  And then I wonder at the thousands of artists who do not sell.  And, then, of course, I think of myself.  I haven't done art in almost four months.  I blame it on the move and the chaos of my life.  But, also, there's the fact that I had my first gallery showing and sold nothing.  Which is it that's keeping me away from creating art?

And, even deeper, why does our belief in our selves depend upon someone else believing in us? Genn talks about Van Gogh and his struggles with depression and belief in himself and offers a thought for today:
"Success or no success, joy or no joy, we are alone. And it is to this private struggle that we must consign our energy, our focus, and our lives.

Vincent tells us that one needs only to listen to the voice of nature to be fulfilled. That only the beautiful mind is needed. The idealist in us finds this to be true. The pragmatist doesn't. Vincent himself could not live up to his own standards. He too was depressed. 'What am I in most people's eyes?' he asked. 'A nonentity or an eccentric and disagreeable man?'
Truth is, when we're able to kiss off the expectations laid on us by ourselves and others, we have the chance to overcome." 
Kissing off the expectations of others ... a worthy goal ... and a timely reminder.  I just finished a project that did not meet the expectations of someone I wanted to please ... someone who is paying the bill.  The project can be reworked and I think we can get there but the lack of approval still stings.  I have to remind myself of the joy I had doing the project and that I did the best work I'm capable of doing.  That has to be enough.  I can only put out my best ... I can't be responsible for how it is received.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Unseen Perfection

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

What you can live
will make plans
for the vitality
hidden in your sleep.
-- David Whyte, House of Belonging
A friend sent David Whyte's poem to me this morning and this part of it leapt off the page and said, "See this is what I've been trying to show you."

I've been trying to plan my way to where I wanted to go, scrambling around trying to make it become a reality.  Yesterday the universe tapped me on the shoulder and said, "Here's perfection ... it was coming your way all along, you just couldn't see it, couldn't believe it." 

Two months ago I fell in love with a house ... a spectacular house ... a house that was a stretch financially but I "bought" it and even posted a picture of the view here.  I flew into action, signing papers, digging up tax returns, speeding down the road toward the goal ... and hit a speed bump.  The inspections didn't come out right, things were wrong at the core of the house.

Shift gears to house #2 ... a wow! house ... incredible rock outcroppings, amazing deck but a true fixer.  A bank-owned property, there was nothing speedy about this process except my own pushing to get it done.  But it was stop and go.  Put in papers and wait.  Put in papers and wait again.  My patience thinned and frustration thickened. 

Two nights ago, out of sheer frustration, I prowled through the MLS listings to see if anything new had shown up and there were a couple of new things and one sounded interesting but there weren't any pictures available.  The next morning the bank finally responded with a counter-offer that was where we had been two weeks ago.  I was frustrated and irritated but ready to accept the offer because I was so tired of the process ... and, after all, it was a wow! house ... or at least it would be after much money and time went into the remodel.

On more of a whim than anything else, I suggested to my agent that we see these other two properties before we did the acceptance paperwork and she agreed.  Enter house #3 ... an aaaahhhhh! house.  Not spectacular, not a wow! but comfortable with six lovely outdoor living areas ... and the price is right and no remodeling necessary.  We turned in an offer on house #3 and it was accepted in 3 hours.

I think I'm going to try a little harder to believe in the unseen perfection that surrounds us. And, remember David Whyte's words, "What you can plan is too small for you to live."

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Fog of Fear

This morning my blog sister Louise (Recover Your Joy) took me to a new place with a quote and story about Florence Chadwick ...
"Look, I'm not excusing myself, but if I could have seen land I might have made it."
-- Florence Chadwick, explaining why she gave up her goal of being the first woman to swim from Catalina to the coast of California one-half mile from her objective.  July, 1952.  Two months later she achieved her goal in the same icy waters with the same fog that obscured the coast but with the understanding that land was there, it was just her fear that was obscuring it.
If I could have seen land ...  If I only knew that where I'm trying to go was within my reach, I could keep going.  But, isn't that always the case when we're trying something new or stretching into something where we can't see the end?  Fear is always the fog between us and our objective. Life is about continuing on through that fog.  Doing what we know we need to do, depending on the muffled voices telling us to keep on, that we're doing fine, somehow holding the picture of the distant shore in our mind and just keeping on.

When the fog of fear fills me, I think back to Dory in Nemo who repeats over and over ... "Just keep swimming.  Just keep swimming."  But swimming is clear, a physical activity ... you know when you're doing it.  It's in the murky depth of relationships and our spiritual development where we often lose our bearings.  What do we just keep doing?  What is the shore we've lost sight of?  Are we headed in the right direction or swimming south toward San Diego instead of directly toward Los Angeles?  The fog of fear creeps in on these uncertainties and we have to shake our heads and ask, once again, once again, Who am I?  What do I stand for?  Where am I headed? What should I be doing?

I am lost in the fog about a family situation where one person is hurting other people I care about.  I have a small piece of leverage that I can use to ... possibly ... make him do the right thing.  It would create great anger if I should choose to exercise that leverage ... and most likely would not create the desired end.  My thoughts, though, are filled with the heroic effort and the triumphant results and, admittedly, some satisfaction at having a bit of power in a relationship where I have always been powerless.  But what is the shore I've lost sight of?

I always want love to be my shore so I ask myself:  what is the loving thing to do?  Unfortunately, the answer is muddled and mixed.  Loving to whom?  Him or the people he's hurting?  I can feel the fog creeping in obscuring the shore.  I want to ask someone to pull me out of the icy water and wrap me in a warm towel.  If I could only see land ...

Over the years, I've used a set of Rumi cards as a source of wisdom and have been amazed by their guidance.  So rather than end this post with the previous paragraph as I was tempted to, I drew a warning card and received the following advice ... a "warning" card:
Support patiently the disagreements inflicted by ignorant men.
Fight against fools and you make the matters worse:  Keep calm.
Stay calm ... that I can do.  And, a weight rolls away as I realize that it's not my job to make someone else live up to his better nature.  My job is just to live up to mine.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Push Through

I've been transcribing interviews for the Minarets High School* video for the past few days.  It is tedious work since I've heard the interviews before when we were doing the actual filming.  But it has to be done before I can find the 10 minutes of script that will come out of the almost 9 hours of audio.  I have to take it in chunks and set the timer to force myself to do a certain amount of time before taking a break.

Yesterday the voice of a young student broke through the almost rote transcription. Cheyrese is a sophomore afflicted with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis that struck her about three years ago.  Since then she has been in and out of hospitals, isolated and home schooled, and forced to relearn how to walk.  Her journey continues as she faces more surgery, more pain and more challenges.  But this is what I listened to her say yesterday when we asked her if she had anything else she wanted to tell people:
"If you do have something like this, just don't give up on yourself.  Don't make it seem like the end of the world will happen, because it won't.  As long as you push through and you do what you think you're supposed to do, you stay in school or go to college or anything, you're going to make it.  I'm not going to lie ... there are going to be bad days but everybody has bad days.  But if you can push through your bad days, then that can motivate people to push through any of their bad days." 
Push through.  How simple but how wise.  At least for today, when things might not look as rosy as I'd like, I'm going to remember those words.  If Cheyrese can push through, surely I can.

About the image:  Minarets High School.  * For any of you interested in learning more about what's going on in schools these days, you might want to look at the other blog I'm writing.  There are some great sparks of hope out there.  Perhaps, just perhaps, they will soon form a great beacon.  For more information about Minarets and other new school models, please go to

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Dare to Imagine

"We are all guilty of crime ... the great crime of not living life to the full.
 But we are all potentially free.
We can stop thinking of what we have failed to do and do whatever lies within our power.

What those powers that are in us may be no one has truly dared to imagine.

That they are infinite we will realize the day we admit to ourselves that imagination is everything.

Imagination is the voice of daring." 

 -- Henry Miller    
What am I not daring to imagine?  When I first started thinking about this, my mind went to doing things ... being a doctor, ballerina, a trekker in the Himalayas.  While I can imagine doing those things, they don't capture my imagination, as a matter of fact they make me very tired just thinking about all the work it would take to do them.

So I turn my imagination to being things ... something that's always been much harder for this confirmed doer.  What can I imagine being? ... completely loved and loving, completely safe and comforting, completely heard and understanding, completely peaceful and sharing, completely open and accepting, completely joyful and inspiring.

I can imagine a planet where love and peace and truth spread across its surface, stilling the waters of dissent, dissatisfaction and disregard for the beauty and abundance that surrounds us, gradually returning to its state of balance and harmony, gently wrapping us in a blanket of love for all.

While Gandhi's great quote has been reduced to bumper-sticker status, it fits perfectly this morning's flight of imagination ... I must be the change I wish to see in the world.

What are you not daring to imagine?

About the image:  Three Figures by Henry Miller

Monday, May 17, 2010

Deep Hunger

"The deepest hunger in life is a secret that is revealed only when a person is willing to unlock a hidden part of the self."
-- Deepak Chopra, The Book of Secrets
Chopra likens the quest for this secret to diving for the most precious pearl in existence and states:  "Finding the hidden dimensions in yourself is the only way to fulfill your deepest hunger."  I have to wonder if finding the hidden dimensions within ourselves is like science's search for the bottom and the top of the universe.  The deeper they go ... through each layer of "matter," the more they find another layer leading to nothing, although that nothing is also brimming full and inviting a deeper search.  As the Hubble travels through the Universe, one of its explorations was pointed at an "empty" spot in the sky ... where it found thousands of galaxies ... not just stars but whole galaxies ... where an "empty" spot might lead to even more galaxies.

An ancient wisdom says, "As above so below."  Perhaps we are a microcosm of the universe, an endless layering of dimensions and our hunger is to know those dimensions of ourselves.  But, even with our own personal Hubble telescopes, perhaps we will just discover more dimensions, an endless expanse of dimensions of self.  Perhaps our hunger can never be satisfied until we relax into the infiniteness of our self and recognize the we are, each one of us boundaryless, all and a piece of all, a dust mote within the Universe which also encompasses the Universe.

As I head into my day, I wonder if these thoughts help or just bewilder me.  But there is a quiet feeling inside that says it doesn't matter ... that nothing really matters while at the same time the most microscopic things matter infinitely.  Yesterday I wrote about balance and now I feel the truth of the thought that a thousand angels can truly dance on the head of a pin.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Out of Balance

I'm out of balance.  My body knows it, my spirit knows it, the world around me reflects it ...  and now I know it.  I know it makes sense; many of my life tie-downs are missing and my sails are flapping in the wind.  I haven't made art for almost four months.  After two months, I still don't have a permanent place to live and my stuff is scattered between here and Colorado.  And, the every day things that keep me balanced and peaceful ... eating, exercising, meditation, blogging and photography ...  have all been erratic at best.

The reality of how out of balance I am became apparent this morning as I was taking my granddaughter home after an overnight visit.  I was taking her home early because I had work to do and errands to run.  Yesterday we went to the lake, had a sushi picnic and watched a movie of her choice.  It was a nice time but I was only partly there and partly wishing I could get on with my work.  On the longish drive home this morning, she began to open up to me about her life.  She's 8-years old and half of her life has been spent in chaos created by the adults around her.  She's a bright kid, but like most 8-year-olds, she's awkward, messy, noisy, self-centered and overly-dramatic.  She's the type of kid who gleefully tells me my hair looks like a bird's nest and that there are hairs growing out of my chin.  Basically, she's a normal kid but she's having a hard time and when we stopped at a fruit stand and she was messing around with a piece of ice on the sidewalk, she unconsciously drew a heart ... broken into two pieces.

I suddenly realized that I was putting work and errands ahead of spending real time with her.  She is more important to me than the errands I needed to run and the work that remains undone but my actions were telling a different story.  It was too late to undo the taking her home early mistake but on the way back, after running my very important errands, I decided to get my life and my thinking back into balance.  So the boxes and bags of stuff from the errands are scattered across the kitchen floor while I sit on the deck listening to the birds sing, sipping fresh berry lemonade trying to figure out how to bring back balance.

My first reaction was to do a 21-day "balance boot camp" ... to eat right, exercise regularly, meditate and blog daily, and make a lot of art.  In other words live perfectly ... make up for my imperfections by being totally, completely, unquestionably perfect and balanced.   It didn't take long for me to remember I've tried being perfect ... many times ... it never worked before and I know it wouldn't now.

But as I watched the trees with the leaves moving gently with the breeze, I was reminded that balance is not about rigid control, it's about flexibility and allowing everything to always be slightly out of balance as part of the continual shift that is balance.  As much as I admire people who can say, "I've exercised every single day for the last 30 years," that's not me and it's not my form of balance.  There's a mobile hanging over my kitchen sink and it has several pieces of minerals hanging from it's arms.  If you push one part of the mobile, it swings wildly out of balance and then gradually comes back to a gentle motion moving to the unseen currents of the kitchen air.

Perhaps that's the balance I seek, keeping all the pieces of life that are important to me in motion and flexible.  Letting life's currents send one piece into play for awhile and then another so that it's the gentle, unpredictable action that makes it interesting and in the long run, balanced.  My life as a mobile is much more compelling than a 21-day boot camp, but less dramatic and probably requires more awareness and a moment-by-moment reflection on what's important and how I'm spending my time and my energy.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Fibromyalgia Awareness Day

Today is Fibromyalgia Awareness Day and my friend Lynne who was diagnosed with it a year ago has written a letter to friends and family explaining a little more about this widely misunderstood disease.  She has agreed to have it shared ... so please pass it along.
To my Friends and Family,

This is a letter I have been thinking about for a long time. I write this in hopes of making a difference in the lives of those who have faced the challenge of Fibromyalgia.

Today is Fibromyalgia Awareness day. Some of you know this - but this is news to many of you - just over a year ago, after months of life-changing and confusing symptoms, I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. At the time, I didn't know how to spell it or pronounce it correctly, let alone understand it. In the months since then, I have devoured information, learned a great deal about it, and in the process, have met others who have shared similar stories to my own.

The most tragic stories I've heard were not about the discomfort, confusion and fear over Fibromyalgia, or the challenges and the cost of treatment. It was the mis-information about Fibromyalgia and the effects of that mis-information on diagnosis, treatment and worse, the support and understanding of family and friends that is so vital to anyone who is confronting a life-changing illness. 

The majority of what is known about this disorder has been learned in the last 15 years. While the exact cause is not understood yet, much is now understood about the chemical imbalances that cause the pain, chronic fatigue and brain fog (fondly called 'fibro-fog) that is fibromyalgia. There is a tremendous amount of information now about treatment options. I do find that much of it, especially what is coming out of pharmaceutical companies and traditional doctors offices these days, is geared toward alleviating symptoms, not eliminating the contributing factors and strengthening the body's immune system. The best of the new information seems to be embraced by Naturopathic Doctors (ND's) who treat FM/CFS holistically rather than symptomatically. This is my own two-cents worth after my last year of personal experience.

I have had an amazing journey and gifts of love and support from friends and family that have been overwhelming to me. I can truly tell you that I don't know how I would have managed this last year of my life without the love, emotional support and yes, even the financial support provided by friends and family.

At the same time, I have met doctors whose medical training was older than 20 years who said Fibromyalgia does not exist and recommended anti-depressants. And I have had people in my life question the 'realness' of the disorder.

I write this today in hopes that my experience may help someone else out there who faces the pain, confusion and fear that goes with the journey of fibromyalgia. I write to their friends and family - to you I plead - there are links below for the FM Aware Magazine and the National Fibromyalgia Association. Please read, learn, love and support someone in your life who faces this journey. It is real. There are tons of medical evidence now to support that it is real. Anyone these days who questions the reality of this disorder is basing their opinion on outdated medical information and mis-information.

My journey has brought me to a Naturopathic Doctor who through lab results, supplements and food changes and has helped greatly improve the quality of my life and my ability to manage FM/CFS. I'm re-engineering my professional assessments business to enable more work at home. With my business partners, we are helping organizations and individuals match the right people to the right jobs, develop top talent performers, improve retention and job satisfaction.

I am recovering not only my strength, but my happiness. I am making a major life and climate change to support my healing process and in the next month will be moving to Oakhurst California. It's the gateway to Yosemite National Park and there is enough beauty and temperate climate there to last me and my camera a lifetime. 

Please feel free to forward this to anyone who you think may benefit from this information. I send it with love and a commitment to healing, happiness, sharing information and most of all hope.


Monday, May 10, 2010

Doorways to Dreams

Louise at Recover Your Joy says this morning: 
May we all be moved by beauty today. May we all feel the passion and be moved to take flight into our dreams.
And, Diane at Contemplative Photography quotes Rumi:
A human being is essentially a spirit-eye.
Whatever you really see,
you are that.

--Rumi, A Year with Rumi (May 10)
On this gray morning after a glorious weekend, I'm sitting in a coffee shop in Portland getting ready to go spend some time with my new adopted mom.  A chasm formed last August when my second mom died.  I became motherless and thought that at this stage of life, that was to be expected.  It was part of my lot.  But, on Friday I met Marzenda, a water sprite who lives in Portland's house boat community ... the image here is of her front porch.  Almost instantly I changed my mind about accepting my motherless condition and asked her if I could adopt her.  She graciously accepted and my heart feels fuller already.

So the question for today is: what else is out there waiting for us if only we look with spirit-eyes and take flight into our dreams?  The world is so full of wise and generous souls.  I feel surrounded, loved, safe in an abundant Universe that may send me challenges but always, if I choose to accept the lesson, as doorways to greater love.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

A More Creative Society has created a series of 25 talks designed to stimulate your thinking. One that caught my attention is this one by Mitch Resnick ... here's the introduction:
A few years ago, the government of Singapore summoned Mitch Resnick to help crack a problem. Although thousands of schoolchildren in that country were designing and building robots using the Lego Mindstorm kits Resnick helped invent, Singapore businesses complained that when these same students hit the workplace, they lacked creativity and initiative. Resnick discovered, in conversations with teachers, that robot building was an after-school activity, and classroom time was devoted to math and science drills.

This is Resnick’s issue in a nutshell, he explains. “The way technology is getting out there is limited.” If the “richest learning experience happens when people are actively designing, experimenting and exploring,” then why can’t we extend this approach into the school curriculum? Computers and technology should not be used merely to impart information, but to engage kids to design, create and invent – much as little kids do with blocks and paint in kindergarten.
Resnick demonstrates the creations of children who participated in special engineering and software designing courses. He had posed the challenge of inventing something that could be useful to them in everyday life. The results included such unique items as an odometer for roller blades, a diary security system, an automatic toilet paper dispenser and a mobile, wearable juke box. Resnick has launched Computer Clubhouses in locations around the world where kids often have no access to computers. He believes that “success for an individual or a country as a whole will depend on acting creatively.”

Audience questions focused on how to encourage U.S. schools to adopt Resnick’s ideas, given the emphasis on teaching to the test, and the lack of teacher support.
The video of the talk is available at ... a little over an hour.

About the image:  A snow plant found at Mammoth Pool, CA

Monday, May 3, 2010

My Tribe

This morning I feel like writing but there are no thoughts in my head ... or at least none clamoring for space on the page or that seem worth writing about.  So, I've turned to My Tribe for stimulation.  My Tribe is a diverse lot including my blog sisters who constantly stimulate and inform me.  For instance, this morning Louise at Recover Your Joy asks in a witty and serious post, "Where's the elephant in your life?"  I know I need to stop and contemplate that question but it feels like too much on this lovely, sunny morning.

My Tribe also includes the Steller's Jay who screeched on the picnic table outside my window, demanding some sort of fruit stuff and then didn't even say thanks when I obliged him with some wrinkly grapes.  And also the dog barking in the distance, barking his loneliness and dissatisfaction into an unresponding world.

But My Tribe also includes the wisdom of the present and the ages.  Over the past 30 years or so I have collected quotes.  It's actually the only thing I collect and I lost them for awhile.  Too many computer changes and a decision that I was "done" with quotes ... so they sat dormant on a CD while I went on my way.  Several months ago I discovered the CD and realized I hungered for their wisdom.  So, a technogeek waved his magic wand and suddenly they were back ... like a long lost friend.

This morning here is some of the wisdom My Tribe shared:
“Be realistic. Plan for a miracle.”
-- Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh

"Your work is to discover your world and then with all your heart give yourself to it."
-- The Buddha

The old storytellers of Native America tell us --
 "The real power of the story is that as you tell it,
it begins to happen;
Human beings live by stories.
Whatever the story is you tell yourself -- consciously or unconsciously--
That is the life you will bring forth; --
Choose your stories carefully;
Choose your stories consciously; --
Choose wisely the image --
The story, you will bring forth and give birth to.
  -- Lakota Sioux
The story that I tell myself today is that I am connected to the wisdom of the ages.  If I open my eyes, my heart and my mind, that wisdom flows into me and then out into the world.  I am a wisdom channel ... I only need to keep the channel clean and free of my own fears and distortions.

Thanks, Tribe!