Friday, March 25, 2011

Joy to You

"What we have once enjoyed,
we can never lose.  All
that we love deeply becomes 
a part of us."
-- Helen Keller

I'm off on vacation for the next week.  With luck I will be soaking up sun and sustenance on a cruise to Mexico with friends as we review our lives and contemplate what's next.

Much joy to each of you.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Today's Great Idea

Here in the Sierra foothills near Yosemite we are experiencing Nature ... a heavy, wet spring snow fell on already saturated ground resulting in downed trees, rockslides and power outages.  We have been without power for three days and estimates are that it will be another 3-4 before it's back.  We are faring well ... all the basic necessities are covered ... but the psychological adjustments are amusing.  Countless instances of forgetting ... pushing doorbells and expecting them to ring, reaching for a vacuum to clean a dust bunny, flipping a lifeless light switch, over and over the body reacts to the familiar luxury of electricity on demand.

This morning I woke up to the idea of making bread pudding with all the leftover breakfast biscuits I've collected and were now thawing in the freezer.  The frozen bananas were also now soggy so in they went along with the eggs, craisins, walnuts, agave and cinnamon.  The mixture was ready to pop into the oven and I was anticipating the warming of the kitchen that would accompany the baking.  That is until I realized that the oven wouldn't work without the thermostat ... electric, of course.  So, I fried the bread pudding on top of the stove but the house was so dim with just candle light that I really couldn't tell when it was properly browned on the bottom.  It worked ... sort of ... and made a nice if unconventional breakfast.

The cooking was challenging but the clean-up was really a mess what with boiling water a pot at a time, once for washing, once for rinsing, once for cleaning the counters.  During the process I began to think about the long line of women before me who rose every morning before daylight and prepared breakfast for their families.  Biscuits made in the dim light of their kitchens baked on wood fire stoves at best.  My thoughts also went to the villages in Japan and all the areas in the world where war has devastated the infrastructure and people live without power or on a limited few hours per day of access.

So, as I sit in a coffee shop borrowing access to the internet, I wonder about how we've become such an extension of our technology and what we would ever do without it.  We have three dogs and they don't care at all about the lack of electricity.  They seem to actually be reveling in the increased level of attention they have from their boredom-bound humans.  Perhaps there's a lesson here in returning to the comfort of companionship and quiet.

All that aside ... I really hope the power comes back soon.

About the image:  Lewis Creek before the storm

Monday, March 21, 2011

We're All the Same

I just bought tickets to a Yanni concert that is coming to Fresno in May.  Yanni does great concerts and he is a gifted and generous musician who offers other musicians a bigger stage to play on.  This quote of his makes me think he is a truly generous spirit.

"I want you to remember one more thing:  Every great thing that has ever happened to humanity since the beginning has begun as a single thought in someone's mind.  And, if any of us is capable of such a great thought, then all of us have the same capacity because we're all the same."      
        -- Yanni, "Live at the Acropolis"

Enjoy this example featuring a digeridoo.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Social Media: Hidden Secret

I get about 50 emails a week from people who are willing to share their secrets with me.  Of course, they are all on a path leading to selling me something but each secret is ABSOLUTELY FREE! ... of course.  (They all have very active capitalization keys.)

So, I'm joining the club and sharing my secret ... but this may be the only one I have so there's no path here to a 17 1/2  week program that will open the doors to wealth, fame and fortune.  It's just this one small secret about social media:

     In a few key strokes you can change your identity.
A few months ago, I decided I wanted to change my name ... just slightly by running my first and middle name together into Joyceann.  It's what some of my favorite people called me when I was young and it felt fun to embrace those feelings.  Now, I've decided that Joyce is just fine so in a gnat's eyelash of time, I changed my profile on Facebook, Twitter, Linked-in and here.  That may seem like a small thing ... but it's rather liberating to be able to proclaim to the world a change that I decide to make in my life.  It's an invitation to experiment, not only with different hats, but with whole new costumes.

Think about it ... one day on Twitter you could be an armchair explorer rediscovering the Amazon ... the next you could be deep into restructuring the horticultural disaster known as your backyard.  You can try on new identities like t-shirts to see which ones fit.  Keep the one that excites you and intrigues your friends ... or move on to a different possibility.  We are not one-dimensional puppets so why shouldn't we try out all the parts of our kaleidoscopic selves?

Friday, March 18, 2011

Resetting Our Possibility Meters

Take a concern for the effect of global warming on the coral reefs and a science writer and her twin sister professor and what would you get?  Crocheted coral forms, of course.  This video which was posted this morning by Maureen at Writing without Paper and it reminded me how connected the world is and how much power there is in surprise.

It turns out that there is a great deal of science and math embedded in crochet and it is a perfect medium for replicating coral forms but the first thing that hits us is the delightfully odd idea of doilies turning into coral reefs.  Putting two things together that would normally never be in the same room is a standard exercise in innovation and creativity thinking and this video is a perfect example resetting our thinking about what's possible.

If you haven't seen this video, don't miss it.  And, thank you once again to all the TED folks.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Hi Energy Playlists

In case you're interested in what's on my high energy playlists, I have three with some duplication across the three:



Long Caye Melody

Long Caye Melody 

by Joyce Wycoff
For Jes Karper who introduced us to the mysteries.
There is a line
That divides the world.
Sky above; 
Water below.
Sky flaunts its charms
In a never-ending show.
You can sit in a chair and watch
Sunrise throw a paint party of pink and gold.
Minutes later the colors are whisked away
By purple-black cumulus dropping squalls
Across the line.
Then almost before the last rain drop falls,
Black and white frigate birds ride
Thermals across the sun-washed, too-blue sky.
Sky has nothing to hide.
Most people stay on that long line
Where sky meets water, happy
To sail along the surface past the spot
Where the peregrine falcon perches
On a dead tree limb punctuating 
The gap between two islands.
The line is a knowable place.
But, water, oh that dark, bright water,
Reflecting sky, challenging the line,
What mysteries lie beneath
Where even the rocks live and breathe?
Dive in and visit one interlaced community –
Coral reef, turtle grass and sand –
Where sponges, orange, gold and iridescent blue,
Filter water for food, wiping clean the view,
While rainbow colored parrotfish chomp
Coral into sand in their pursuit of algae meals.
In anemone-hosted cleaning stations, 
Tiny, almost invisible shrimp eat sea lice
From groupers that turn dark 
To highlight the parasites then flash back 
to their original shade when the cleaning is done.
Schools of blue surgeon fish swim
Over brain coral and around waving sea fans.
Lobsters and arrow crabs dart into dark recesses;
An octopus absorbs dinner on a star coral overhang;
Grunts, jacks, wrasses, barracuda, mackerel,
Chromis, hogfish and a thousand juveniles
Swim in and around the coral fingers and
Sponge baskets … feeding, playing, living.
And, supporting it all,
Feeding sunlight to the coral,
Being fed by the coral,
Unseen and for millennia unknown,
The lowliest algae of all –
Zooxanthellae, in some ways
Mother of all.
Back on the line in the Long Caye dining room,
Marie Sharp reminds us that she has succeeded
And offers us this hot advice:
Dive in.  Dive in.  Dive in.
Written 1/10/2007 -- notes and more info:

  1. Jes Karper, adventure guide extraordinaire, naturalist, and hat weaver is also a musician. His eco-spiritual gentle tunes can be heard at .
  2. Long Caye (pronounced key) is a tiny island in Glover’s Reef atoll off the coast of Belize.  More info at:
  3. Zooxanthellae, pronounced zoo-zan-thell-ee.  More info:
  4. Marie Sharp is the creator of a line of terrific hot sauces and jams that spiced and sweetened our week in paradise.  More info available at

Japan and the Law of Attraction

The Law of Attraction simply says that you attract into your life whatever you think about.  
Your dominant thoughts will find a way to manifest. 
-- Steve Pavlina

I want to believe the law of attraction ... that thinking positive thoughts and imagining good will attract good.  I do believe that there are energy forces we don't yet understand and that being in alignment with those forces, whether by happenstance or focus, creates synchronicities and new opportunities.  I want to believe that we live in an abundant, meaningful universe rather than a random collection of molecules playing pin ball.

But, the earthquake in Japan and Haiti, the tsunami in the Indian Ocean and the 1931 floods in China which may have killed 2.5 million people all make me sure that those actions were not a result of the law of attraction.  People in a small fishing village in Japan weren't thinking negative thoughts which caused their village to be washed away.  The natural forces of the earth did that.

So, where does that leave us with the law of attraction?  Perhaps all the gurus of this belief system could back off a bit in their fervor.  There is an underlying foundation of truth ... people who passionately focus on what they want in life tend to get whatever it is they want more often than people who don't.  They are more focused, more vocal in letting people around them know what they want, more energized by their own passion and the energy they get from others who begin to support them.  But maybe we could call it the "Power of Attraction" rather than a "law" ... somewhat like we talk about the "power of prayer" and not the "law of prayer."

We shouldn't use this "law" as a club to beat people over their heads as if their cancer, their unemployment, their ten-year-old car, or their lost fishing village was the result of their negative thinking.  Teaching people to stretch into their best selves, to reach for new possibilities, to find their deepest talents and gifts are all great things.  We have far more potential than we use and the world needs the full brilliance of each of us.

My personal belief is that life is not either/or but rather both/and.  Life and Death.  Pain and Joy.  Meaningful and Random.  We live in a meaningful, abundant Universe seasoned with random, chaotic forces.  In the tragic wake of Japan's earthquake, which is completely meaningless and random, there will be a million meaningful stories of heroism and connection.  For those of us untouched directly by this disaster, it is a reminder to be kind to each other, to connect with our neighbors, to find joy in each moment.  The random forces of nature are fast and strong ... to survive we need each other and a firm belief in the power of our indomitable spirits and the Great Spirit that connects us all.

About this image:  A common oil slick but it reminds me of the both/and idea.  An ugly bit of oil on  pavement becomes a radiant display of color when mixed with a little water and sunlight.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Conversation with Yoda

I really don't want to write this book. 

Truly passionate about writing this book, I thought you were.

Well ... I am but ... I don't have anything important to say.

A journey you have been on ... lessons to take back you have.

There are other, more important stories.
To others their stories belong.  You to share only is yours.

I don't have all the answers.

 Answers no one expects ... your story only.

What if it's not enough?

What if it is?

Do I have to try?

Do or not do.  There is no try. 

Many years ago I fell in love with Yoda, the Jedi Master in "Star Wars" who has great power and wisdom and an odd but compelling syntax.  His voice came back to me in the last few days as I've been trying to sort out my next steps.

An idea for a book was born about a year ago and in January I started actually writing it as an entry into Hampton Roads'  "Top Self-Help Author" contest. When I found out that I had not advanced to round 2 of the competition, I was disappointed (See Drinking Lemonade ) but it left an opening for a new idea ... and then other new ideas ... and then revisions of ideas.  The title changed, the focus changed, the book changed.  Feedback from the initial readers was encouraging ... with suggestions ... which I had hoped for ... but which left me wavering and uncertain about which way to go.

For the past few days, I questioned the whole enterprise and explored possible formats ... paper book, through a publisher or print-on-demand; eBook with graphics and interesting formatting, or ePub book for readers such as Kindle, iPhone and iPad but boring informat.  I'm in the midst of THREE internet marketing programs (which, in itself is crazy) and all of them have me focusing on questions such as:  Who's the reader?  What problem of theirs am I solving?  How can I become a "trusted authority?"

My mind tangled like spaghetti and I couldn't find a loose end to unravel the mess until this morning when I started the conversation with Yoda.  One of the problems with Yoda is that he doesn't tell me what to do ... he leaves the choice in my hands.  It's my choice:  do or not do.

I think I know the answer.  I really want to write the book.  But, I don't want to write it with one eye on the marketing mindset of a possible publisher.  I know I'm supposed to want to write it as a service to my readers.  And, I do hope that happens but, actually, I want ... I need ... to write it for myself as a way of understanding myself and my journey, especially these past four years.  Only by putting myself soul naked on the page will it be a service to myself or to others.

So ... this is step one ... more to come.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Love and Best Wishes to Coleman Barks

The month of January on this blog was dedicated to Rumi and Coleman Barks who gave the great gift of Rumi to the entire western world.  During that month of sharing videos of Barks reading Rumi, I fell once again in love with both of them.  Rumi's words translated and read through the molasses-rich voice of Barks resonate deeply with millions of people around the planet.

Now I've learned from Maureen at Writing without Paper that Coleman Barks has experienced a stroke which has mainly affected, of all things, his voice.  The message he has sent to his friends and fans is included below, but it seems most appropriate to share another video of Barks ... this time one of his own ... and, very deliberately selfishly wish him a most speedy and complete recovery.  We need you, Coleman.

Louise at Recover Your Joy has also published a video of Coleman's this morning.

Message from Coleman Barks:

Trying to explain my silence, and my inability, maybe, to say poems in public for an indeterminate while. Please forgive this group emailing. Last Sunday morning (Feb. 27, 2011) I had a stroke. I was talking on the truck Onstar phone to my love Lisa Starr. I began to slur words, and then became completely inarticulate, then fairly coherent, then not, then back to some clarity. Driving down Milledge, I turned left on Springdale and drove myself to the St. Mary's Emergency room (a Gold Plus Stroke Center). They immediately put me on TPA. 

So I have been tremendously lucky, actually. In three months, my neurologist doctor (Van Morris!) says (by early June), we will see 80% of what improvement (in my half-smile and my speech) is possible. I plan to work with speech therapists, hypnotists, and whoever else, to get better. Larry Dossey and Fran Quinn say prayer is also a big help.Grace and practice. So there is my challenge for the short run. I am mostly sleeping as much as I can (grace) and listening to recordings of my old voice in my kitchen and talking along (practice). 

I am not answering the phone or the door, or emails (only a few). Please forgive me these reclusive measures. Think of me as an old dormant bear, healing. Lisa is here. Benjamin and Cole and Briny are close by always. Plenty of helpers. I should also tell you too that my cognition is working. I can read and write just fine, and no motor functions are impaired. Arms and legs active and strong. It is really just a slightly droopy right eyelid and my having only half a smile. Speech is, to me, the big problem. It radically comes and goes with its effectiveness. Hopefully, the brain will re-route itself back to normal.Love to all, Coleman

(Please forward thi s to anyone who might be interested.)

Friday, March 11, 2011

Survey: What Do Fearless, Fabulous Women Want?

I'd like to invite all of you fearless, fabulous women to participate in a new survey.   The purpose of the survey is to find out what women at our stage of life truly want ... with the possibility of creating books and other information products that would help you live life more confidently and creatively.

               Click here for the survey

Please feel free to pass the link along to your friends, and post on facebook and twitter.  It's short ... only 10 questions.

Why fearless, fabulous women?

Mainly because I love women who have experienced life and earned their wisdom stripes (sometimes called crow's feet and gray hair).  While some women become fearless and fabulous early in life, for most of us, it shows up in our 40s and 50s.  There’s something that happens to us at this age.  Some things slow down; some things speed up.  Our bodies change and our spirits, now free from the prime responsibility for child care and the frantic multi-tasking required of working mothers, reach out in new directions.  Creativity, simmering on the back-burner sometimes for decades, boils over and claims it’s space on the page, on the canvas, in the garden, in the music room, on the dance floor, or on the world stage.

There is a jubiliance about this time, a breaking free after a long chrysalis stage as we try new wings and look in wonder at the never-before-seen bright colors of ourselves.  I remember being at a writing workshop with Natalie Goldberg in Taos not long after I turned 50.  Each morning I would go for a long walk and suddenly poetry started bubbling up.  It was a shock and one poem said, “I’m a practical person, I don’t write poetry” and finished, “So what is this stuff oozing up from the cracks in my life in these Taos mountains?”  For several years after that, poems flowed like water.

At the time, I thought it was just my own repressed creativity breaking free but since then I’ve talked to dozens of women who report a similar experience of something new coming forth in their 50s.  We think of that age, with the onset of menapause, as a “drying up,” a loss of vitality, when, in actuality, it is a birthing of spirit.  And, everyone who has given birth, whether to a child or a new project, knows that birthing involves pain and a widening of things that sometimes don’t want to widen.  Birthing something new is done in the dark, uncharted territory of Dragon Country.  The uncertainty of a new creation is part of the joy and fascination that pulls us forward and gives us the energy to take the risk involved.

This survey is part of a new birth ... I hope you'll help mid-wife it.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

What do you want to do before you die?

Life list.  Bucket list.  Or just one secret wish you've held close but never expressed.  What do you want to do before you die? brought me this thought on this crisp, almost-spring morning.

Candy Chang is a public installation artist, designer, urban planner, and co-founder of Civic Center who likes to make cities more comfortable for people.  She recently completed an installation that invites people to share their hopes and wishes.  She states:
"With a lot of help and support from old and new friends, I turned the side of an abandoned house in my neighborhood into a giant chalkboard where residents can fill in the blank and remember what is important to them in life. It’s also about turning a neglected space into a constructive one where we can learn the hopes and aspirations of the people around us."
If you were in her neighborhood in New Orleans, how would you fill in the blank?  Many of the blanks have been filled in with things like:  have fun, see my daughter graduate, go to the Galapagos Islands, save a life, make a difference, go 200 mph, finish school, write a book and so on.

I thought about it for awhile and, restricting myself to only one blank, I had to dig a little.  But I finally came up with:

Before I die I want to ... deeply experience connection with the Universe.

Feel free to use the comment section to post yours.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Rabbit Holes

I spent the weekend in a rabbit hole.  It wasn't Alice's rabbit hole but there might have been a tunnel that would have connected us ... if I had looked.  But, I had a return ticket in my pocket which I held tightly, closed my eyes and repeated the mantra of "home" hoping it would keep me safe.

It was only as I was leaving the gravitational pull of the rabbit hole that I began to realize that I had missed an opportunity to explore a new land.  In my rearview mirror, I saw a a sign shrinking with each mile ... "Winnie ... come find me ... Tigger."  It was too late to turn around.  My homeward bound ticket held me in it's single-minded thrall.  But, something deep within me whispered that I had left a door unopened, a flow of creativity and connection unfelt.  

Suddenly I knew that I could have opened my eyes, opened my heart, opened my mind to the strange world around me.  I would have still been safe and I might have carried home a new treasure.  "Two roads diverged in a yellow wood ..." and I took the straight one home and will never know what difference it made.  Next time maybe I will choose differently.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Power of One Word

My blog sister Diane has passed on something called a Memetastic Award, so I feel honor bound to honor it and pass it on again to some other wonderful bloggers.  So here's how it works:  when you get the award, you have to...

✦ Link back to the blogger who bestows the award. (✓) Contemplative Photography

✦ Display the image from the award creator. (✓)

✦ Pass the award on to five (5) other bloggers who must follow these rules. (✓)

✦ Link the post back, so Jillsmo can follow its trajectory. (✓)

✦ List five (5) facts, four (4) of which must be lies.  (✓)

Here's a list of blogs that I think deserve this award:

Robert Genn   is a most generous, encouraging artist and shares his thoughts twice a week .  I highly recommend subscribing to the email versions so you don't miss any.

And here are the five things ... one true ... will it be the most boring or the most interesting?
  • I was born a poor, white child and dropped on my head while traveling across country on the train.
  • I lived with a hot dog-eating rooster, a pet of my cotton-boll tobacco chewing grandmother.
  • I married my double-half-step cousin in Arkansas.
  • I dived under a burning car on the beach in San Felipe, Mexico.
  • I spent six months traveling around New Zealand.
(HINT:  There's only one word difference between the true and the false.  I'll even tell you the one word:  almost.)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Drinking Lemonade

I am sitting here drinking lemonade ... literally and figuratively.

About six weeks ago I signed up for the Hampton Roads "Top Self-Help Author" competition. At the time the email arrived talking about the program, I had been thinking about writing a book for about a year. The timing clicked and I jumped into the program, made a video, set up a mini-website asking for votes and started writing the book. Yesterday I finished the first section of the book and the book proposal, both of which would be required for authors moving on to round 2.

Today, I got the email that said that I did NOT advance to round 2. I was shocked. And even more shocked to find that other authors that I had rated as possible candidates for the Big Win did not advance either. Right or wrong, several of us decided that number of votes may have weighed much more than we believed. I hope that's not sour grapes.

I asked two of the other authors who didn't advance how they handled their disappointment. Suzanne, the woman I had decided was going to walk away with the prize, said:
"The first thing I did is Denial. Did not believe that I did not make it to 2nd round. Not because of my writing yet, but because of my video pitch. I felt it was pretty good. Second I lived my emotions. I cried. I cried in silence then in the arms of my big man. And I will probably let myself be sad for tonight. But tomorrow is another day. Nobody is going to discourage me from writing this book, even if I have to publish it myself."
I understand the initial denial ... I went over the list three times before I could believe that I didn't make it. I liked Suzanne's acceptance of her feelings. I tried to dismiss mine just as I've tried to pretend that other disappointments along the way didn't matter. But, I am disappointed. It is a rejection and as much as I've learned that writing is a path filled with pebbles, rocks and boulders of rejection, I wanted this to be easy, a slam-dunk invitation to play on a new stage. I have loved writing the book and I wanted the comfort and security of the possible book contract. Now that fantasy has popped like a soap bubble in the sun.

Another author, Joan said:
 "How do I handle disappointments? I know everything is the way it is supposed to be... these disappointments lead your life in a direction that will be better for you ... you just don't know it yet... I have CERTAINLY had many disappointments in the past...but it is so much easier now to go with the flow..."
How true. I know that six months or a year from now, I will recognize the perfection of this moment, this so-called "rejection." So I sit with my lemonade, bitter-sweet and refreshing, and ideas and patterns begin to break apart and form into new images. Tomorrow is indeed another day ... another day of writing my book and knowing that new possibilities and opportunities are on the way.