Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Us Versus Them

(Image copyright L Wilson, 2009)

I randomly came across this article on It describes "innumeracy" or a lack of knowledge of basic mathematics. The author claims this is a primary reason of the recent economic troubles...people honestly not understanding the adjustable rate mortgage or the pitfalls of having 30% APR on a credit card.

I'm not writing to debate the causes of America's economic troubles. Nor am I writing to discuss whether Americans are mathematically knowledgeable as a whole.

It was the comment section at the end that truly sparked my interest.

As with many other online news sources, people can leave comments that are basically left to self-moderation (save for threatening or "inappropriate" language). This almost always leads to a debate (or argument) between several readers. The debate very frequently veers from the topic of the article, turning instead into personal attacks.

This was where a red flag was raised, at least in my eyes.

The "Us Versus Them" mentality.

"We" can do basic math and can't believe "They" can't even calculate a tip.
"We" aren't that good at math, but "They" aren't teaching it right.
"We" know what's best - "They" are "big stupid lumbering morons".
"We" may be ignorant but could still kick "Their" butts.

Get the idea?

In actuality,

We are all afraid.
We are all powerful.
We are all ignorant, some in mathematics, some in other areas.
We are all wiser than we think we are.

Every single member of "Them" is in some way an "Us".

It would be far more beneficial to look for how we are all, well, US then trying to fight THEM. Celebrate differences, that we aren't all identical (how boring!), that we have issues to debate and explore, that we have such a broad range of life to recognize in other humans, animals, stones, etc. Never forget, though, that we are all in this together.

Monday, December 28, 2009

I See You

Holiday connections had temporarily suspended my blogging. From connecting to the road, to my family, to my children, my husband, my mother, my siblings, and to the pervasive spirit - I was a bit busy. As I'm sure we all are. I thank all those who continued to blog over the past few days...please know I've been reading & thoroughly enjoying them.

I went last night with my husband to see Avatar. We generally aren't movie go-ers (though the fact that both children now sit through a whole one may change that) and I am not a typical sci-fi person. However, we were kid-free for a night (thanks grandma!), and we'd seen a preview for the 3D version of Avatar at another movie and knew it had to be on our list of to-do's.

(Image credit here)

I simply cannot express my amazement.

It is sticking with me like very few others do. Not only is it a beautiful movie, as my husband expressed, with fanciful plants and worlds & graceful movements, but the message(s) are awakening something within me.

I dreamed in Pandora last night. I worked out this morning imagining running through the beautiful forests. It may be a bit odd, but it is working.

For those who have not seen the movie - first, I highly recommend that you do. While I cannot promise you'll like it (as we all have different tastes) - you may find a message in it that will speak to you or, at the very least, be treated to a sensory feast. Second, I will try to not throw in any spoilers here.

I see you. The Navi use this phrase alongside their beliefs in a pervasive energy, one that connects them to all living beings and their ancestors. Similar to "Namaste", it is a combination of words that is running through my mind.

I see you.

Do you see me?

Take a breath, suspend beliefs for one moment, and see me...and you...and the light energy radiating from your computer screen in front of you...and the breeze out the window, gentle or fierce, carrying the breath of one you may never meet and those your love who have long since passed. See that we are one. That a frown towards a fellow human traveller is a stomp on our own heart, that a careless waste of energy today is a deliberate pull of energy from our grandchildren, that a simple kind word in the morning can spread through many to save a life in the evening.

Take a breath, and realize that you are only one person. See that is all you are - and that is everything. We cannot take on the pain of everyone, of our whole being, but we can take responsibility for it. Awaken to what is.

I, like many others, are forgoing New Year's resolutions in the recognition that they rarely come to fruition. However, there is an obvious swirl in the energy pool as thoughts swim towards change, possibility, fresh starts, awakening from a winter's rest into growth. If nothing else, these thoughts and casual conversations ("So what are YOUR resolutions??") create a change in how I (and others) feel during our days.

I embrace this energy. I put out the intention to keep playing with this energy, like a kitten with a ball of yarn, to keep spinning it. I put out the intention to not forget that calling that a "simple" movie inspired within me. I put out the intention to start today - not waiting until January 1st - to live connected, peacefully, energetically, and aware.

Happy Awakening.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Winter Solstice

Silence without sleep.

Around my home (in this hemisphere), it is the longest night of the year. It is nature asking us to rest, to go within, to swim and drink in the darkness. It is a hard thing for us to do, we busy creatures, thriving on success through action. Yet it is of no use to fight nature. Our body may survive but our soul quickly dies without inner rest.

It is a balance we must keep - to find a peace, a rest - without going to sleep. Allow the eyes to close and dreams to come but keep the fire burning. This inner retreat that nature requests of us is so that we may recharge, learn and discover what lies beyond that which spring and summer may cover over, fertilize the soil that honest growth may occur as the days grow longer. If we sleep through it, allow the fire to die out, growth that will come with the sun will simply be dry and quick to death.

I wish for myself and for you a peaceful retreat into the self, a restful and insightful evening, and a wakening tomorrow from your deepest sleep.

***A Poem from Rumi***
The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don’t go back to sleep.
You must ask for what you really want.
Don’t go back to sleep.
People are going back and forth across the door sill
Where the two worlds touch.
The door is round and open.
Don’t go back to sleep.


Namaste. (The divine within me recognizes and honors the divine within you)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

How A Gingerbread House Is Supposed To Look

After weeks of begging from my son, we finally bought a gingerbread house kit. I figured since we were "cheating" with the kit, the process would be fairly easy.

This is how the box showed the finish product:


1) Purchasing the countless other ingredients instructed in small print on the box (cornstarch, powdered sugar, etc) (even though the big print states "Everything's Included!")

2) Reading the instructions to learn the afore-mentioned ingredients are really not needed,

3) Discovering the instructions said it takes one hour for the icing for the walls to dry & two hours for the roof icing to dry, thus

4) Disappointing our son because there are only so many hours after school therefore evening number one was just spent in "construction",

5) Re-moistening the icing (which hardens within minutes) because "gingerbread-house-night-number-2!!" turned into "horrible-day-at-school-thus-punishment-in-the-room",

6) Taking at least 45 minutes cutting little gum drops in half, green, gummy, leaf-shaped candies into something that is supposed to resemble "evergreen leaves", and a little red bow out of a flattened red gum drop,

7) Giving up on trying to flatten gum drops into "rectangular window shapes" because gummies don't stay flat...they ooze back into their original shape no matter how much pressure you apply with a rolling pin or how many curse words are said,

8) Finally sitting down to decorate the house on night #3 with both kids only to discover that the icing simply won't come out of the decorating tube (& adding water only makes it easier for it to squirt out of the back of the tube & onto the floor & the dog),

9) Releasing into what is, scooping the icing out of the bowl with my hands, glopping it onto the gingerbread house & letting the kids have at it with applying whatever candy they want in whatever format they want....

We discovered the fun in making a gingerbread house and revealed what a gingerbread house should look like:


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Finding Beauty

Location: White River Gardens, Indianapolis IN (next to Indianapolis Zoo)

The indoor greenhouse is beautifully decorated for the holidays. Tucked in one corner is this small fountain and pond.

We'd been over at the zoo, cheery but quite cold. Stepping into the greenhouse we were greeted by very warm, moist air. As if settling into a warm bed, we dreamily wandered around.

This mystical sight unfolded before me as if I was supposed to be there, as if I were being welcomed home. The gentle sound of the water dropping into its source, the twinkling lights reminding me of tiny fairies and making me giggle.

If only for this moment I was totally in a blissful peace. It is this feeling I wish for you.

Monday, December 14, 2009

How to Handle Negative Stress

Step 1. Take a breath. (Inhale, exhale)

Step 2. Suspend everything you think you know.

Step 3. Let go of your plans.

Step 4. Take a breath.

Step 5. Repeat.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Spread the love, Not the hate

Spread the love, Not the hate.

It is worth repeating.

Perhaps I was predestined to have this thought....after all, the afternoon did involve my husband, mother, kids & I going to see A Christmas Carol (the 3-D movie). VERY highly recommended - the story was brought to life in a way I'd never experienced & the graphics, sound, and methods of portraying characters were stunning.

I walked out of there feeling just plain good. Shortly after, we ventured into the chaos that is holiday shopping. Hubby & I were on a mission to find a few last kids gifts while my mom kindly watched the kids. During one trip across a parking lot, one driver chose to speed along without stopping while we were trying to cross the street. We weren't in any danger, just inconvenienced. I looked over & saw a frown on my husband's face.

Now whether he was reacting to the driver or deep in his own thoughts I'll probably never know. But I realized in that instant that the people walking out of that store had frowns on their faces too....that being frown-y was the default state of being. Everyone had their own reasons for holding the look on their face - many were probably doing so unconsciously. I decided right then & there that because I was conscious of my emotions, because I had an awareness of myself & others, that it was my job to spread the love, not the hate.

A simple smile on my face. A generous thank you to someone holding the door, the person who took our order, the waiter who brought out our food. An honest compliment to a woman with a beautiful blouse. It really wasn't much effort. But I could feel the positive energy swirling within me and knew - just knew - it wasn't mine to keep. I could also feel the sleep-walking depression all around me.

It is quite the tricky idea to be conscious of our consciousness - to be aware of the moment. There are many traditions that describe this idea, some identifying it as a witness consciousness. To be able to look at what is going on in this moment (our feelings, the actions we & others are taking, the events & environments around us) as if we were hovering above it all as a simple observer. No judgments.

That is where I found myself this afternoon. I saw all of the hurt that people were feeling, even if they weren't admitting it to themselves. I saw my own hurt, my own switch that was patiently waiting to be turned "on" again...that switch that puts me back in the mindless state of being. All the wants, desires, aversions, & ignorance guiding us through every moment. Breath after breath I remained aware of this...and carrying a smile on my face, life was simply jubilant. People continued to frown around me, the kids screamed, diversions to my plans happened, but like the calm depths of the ocean I remained at ease.

I'd like to say I stayed like this forever. I'd like to say I sit down to write this blog still with the smile on my face & calm in my heart. But I am a work in progress. I slipped in and out of mindfulness. I am aware that this will continue to happen. I am aware that my feeling of "success" comes not from staying in that state of being, but how quickly I return to it after anger or jealousy or want of change slips in. With an inhale I bring in the love, with my exhale, rid myself of all I know longer need.

I invite you to take today & perhaps even tomorrow to just be aware of your default state. If it is one of frustration or indifference, I invite you to move into a state of beauty. Buy the gift with love in your heart, do your job knowing that whatever it is you are doing, you are making a difference. BE the beauty & radiate it. Little by little, lets all try to spread the feelings of love that we all crave and lessen the feelings of anger and hatred.

Just try.

And if you get a chance, catch A Christmas Carol in 3-D before it leaves theatres. It's refreshing to feel so warm & yummy!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Creative Dining

Christmas cards have been mailed! (Ok, I still have a few more...) It is amazing the load that takes off my mind...yet the creative-outlet hole that is left is fairly big.

We've been sprinkling a bit of creativity here and there, just enough to keep the energy flowing until I move into bigger projects.

We followed a wonderful project suggested at Maya*Made using tp rolls (ya know, those leftover rolls that fill up the recycling bin? It's way more fun to give them a second life.) She is amazingly creative...and while ours didn't exactly measure up, it was tons of fun to make it. Instead of a gift card holder, we made a little purse for Dilana.

I think next time we'll gesso or paint it first. I love the rough-look but it still looks a bit "tp-roll" to me. Maybe add the sewing too?

We also had a great Tyler-night-only tonight (he's been asking frequently for time with mommy & daddy alone. I feel honored he's missing us). He spontaneously made his own art at dinner:

(It's ok - I'd almost rather him play with his french fries than eat them. He'd already finished the healthy stuff!)

I'm excited to use the next week to delve into a few more projects: art journaling, pulling my sewing machine back out, finally using those pastels I bought ages ago.

On a side note, I'm feeling a bit down about my lack of discipline in training. The sudden cold weather & Chris back to his regular schedule means limited time outside (too cold to take Dilana out anymore) thus more time at the Y -- and I REEEAALLY don't like running on the indoor track & treadmill. So many excuses.

But I'm staying positive -- Sure hope I can sleep with all of these creative/mini- / tri-training/philosophical/nutty ideas swirling around!

(Still love to know what you think of the new design...!)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Tryin' It Out

After much playing I think I'm going to stick with this blog template by .

I need to play around with it to make sure there aren't any "hidden" changes (html things) that may throw me off...but I love the overall feel of it! I'm hoping to add some more navigational tools as well as an overall description of the blog.

Let me know what you think of the design!

Please Forgive The Mess...

...While we undergo construction!

Over the next few days, I'm hoping to learn and implement some design (and possibly functional) changes to my blog. If you visit often, you might notice things changing...then maybe changing back.

This is going to be a process of learning how to do something, trying it, and seeing if I like it. I'd love to add pages & more functionality -- but my knowledge of Html is VERY limited and I don't have the $$ to pay someone to do it.

However - that doesn't mean I can't change a few things here and there!

I want to make my blog a warm, inviting, cheery, and thought-provoking web-stop for visitors. I want updates to be immediately visible and the basics (what this blog is about, for example!) to be easily accessible for new visitors. I really want a banner that reflects all of this.

So please forgive the mess. I hope to have something "final" by this weekend (as Christmas cards are almost ready for the mail and I now have juuuust a bit more free time on my hands!). I hope you hang in there with me through it all!

Monday, December 7, 2009

First Snow

Unfortunately it had melted by the time he came home from school, so our promise to play in it will have to be delayed...but it looks like not for long.

Winter is so much more fun when one has kids -- or even a child-like attitude.

Cards & More To-Comes!

What a weekend.

Nothing stunning from the outside, but boy-oh-boy are there some inner changes going on.

Because there is so much I'll need to make several posts (and share several photos!). I hope in the midst of finishing Christmas cards, dealing with my daughter's ever-growing interest in climbing on very tall furniture, allowing the kids to explore our first snow-fall of the year sans snow gear once my son gets home from school (still not sure how that will work), and re-starting laundry that I was just caught up on a few short days ago....

...that I get to share the multitude of blessings I've been given over the past few days.

For now, I am desperate to get these cards finished.

(Spoiler alert: Some of you will be getting one of now you'll know what's coming!)

Each one, unique. Each one a labor of love. I have enjoyed every minute of making them. Some I'm not so happy with (but know that may just be my perfectionism coming through), some I love. Each outside is an experiment with a different craft (stamping, embossing, using the cricut and/or xyron, etc.).
The inside was an experiment itself: Figuring out how to adhere vellum without glue marks. (Xyron to the rescue!) (I used a fun metallic marker to make the tree on the card then adhered the vellum over it....I found after the first few that clear vellum on white paper doesn't give much of an effect!)

A few last cards to design, a few more vellum insides to adhere, signatures from each family member, photos to insert, stamps...and off they go. So many lessons learned for next year - so many awesome crafting ideas still left to explore for other cards & projects.

(Then hopefully a li'l more blogging!)

I love this time of year.

Friday, December 4, 2009

What Not To Say: Part II

Dilana: (from the kitchen - I'm in the bedroom) Mom?

Me: Yeah?

Dilana: I think I'm doing ok!

Me: That's great!

Dilana: You won't see my chiiiip!

Me: What chip? (Walking towards the kitchen)

Me: (After arriving and seeing her munching on something with another chip in front of her) What's that?

Dilana: .... You can have a bite, if you want.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Letting Go and Letting Be. Again.

I'm busy & I'm blessed.

The little things are starting to pile up. Remember how I wrote about "not having time" versus "not making time"? Generally, I'd say I haven't had time to keep up with various errands and chores. But to be honest...I haven't made the time.

I woke up early enough to get Tyler to the bus stop and head over to the YMCA with hubby to get in a 3.5 mile slow run. (My "to-do" on my training log.) We went to lunch, picked up envelopes for Christmas cards at Hobby Lobby, & headed home. He went off to work - I took a quick nap (exhaustion set in quickly), then woke to feed Dilana her snack, get our things together - then off to pick up Tyler from the bus stop and back to Hobby Lobby. (I decided to purchase something I couldn't decide on earlier. More on that to come...) We got home, prepared dinner, did some crafting, baths, and bed time.

I mention all of that just to indicate how busy the day was - yet how clear it becomes about the decisions I made that took up my time. (A nap & two trips to Hobby Lobby probably wasn't in my best interest.)

Yet it takes all I have to sit down and write this blog - I tripped over two piles of laundry to get here.

I'm finding that if my mind starts to get overwhelmed, if I start to feel busy, then the TODO pile starts to topple. If suddenly I have two or three or ten things that seem to all need addressing, I get stressed. Yet if I can let go of the pressure to do more than I have time for -- clock time and time based off my energy -- suddenly the list doesn't seem so bad.

An example:

I went back to Hobby Lobby to purchase the Xyron 900 -- for those who aren't familiar, it's an adhesive/laminating/so many cool things machine. Non-electric, very easy to use. The final straw was needing a way to adhere vellum for our Christmas cards...the Xyron was calling too loudly to ignore. That, and Hobby Lobby had it for 50% off -- the best price I've seen anywhere (even with online searches).

(The Xyron 900) (photo from xyron website)

When I got home, I was anxious not only to play with the Xyron but to try and finish some cards. So I printed on the vellum and went upstairs to try and put it in the machine.

For those who have used it, vellum doesn't dry quickly. Even leaving it through dinner didn't work. I'd heard somewhere that using a heat tool can dry it fast, so I pulled out my embossing heat tool and used it in few-second increments over the writing. Not only did it not completely work, but it ever-so-slightly warped the paper. Thus, when I rolled it through the Xyron, the laminate bubbled up and the text slightly smeared. Not to be deterred, I went ahead and cut a few to adhere it to cards. I now have two cards with slightly bubbly, smeared-text inside greetings.

I had it in my mind what I wanted to accomplish and was going to try and fight even the laws of physics to get it done. Bad idea.

I have now printed off the other vellum sheets and am going to let them dry overnight. (Hopefully that takes care of it.) I am still stressed by the other little things -- the toys that have been left out because the kids were past their bedtime once we got everything else done, the laundry (clean and dirty) that is piled high because I've only devoted 5-minute spurts of time to getting it clean/put away, the cards that aren't even going to get sent out tomorrow (for lack of some addresses, etc).

Yet I realize that as long as I keep balanced inside - open and receptive to the Me that guides me - what "needs" to get done will get done. The family will have clean clothes to wear (even if they have to pick them up off the futon). Christmas cards will get out before Christmas (even if some have a more "shabby chic" look to them). I will finish the mini-marathon next May (even if I back off some on my training right now).

I know this post is getting long but this is really tapping into something for me. I won't keep typing for fear of making this post rather pointless. I will, however, probably revisit this.

There is a difference between letting go (i.e. doing a Homer Simpson by putting the car on cruise & letting go of the wheel) and letting go to let be. I'm not sure how to put it into words, but I FEEL it...and hope at least from time to time, you do as well. It's happening when things flow.

So again I will try to let go of my priorities to recognize MY priorities - those of the greater "me" that is guiding me. What'll be will be.

Hopefully that includes dry vellum tomorrow morning.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Just Another Day.

I sit here in front of my laptop screen not at all sure what I want to write. My mind is deflated.

I choose to honor my committment to blog and know I have several beautiful thoughts in there, but I need to let them simmer some more or they won't taste quite right.

So for now, just a quick recap on my day -- a day for a runner/triathlete in training, yogini who all too often neglects her practice, artist who is still finding her voice, mommy who recognizes the value in silence and letting go of plans, and a wife who is thankful for her hubby.

I am currently following a training plan for the mini marathon, set up by Michael (remember - Kearns Chiropractic?) :). I'm only on day 2 of the plan, but today was a cross-train I hit the pool again. Frustration is sitting in because I am realizing how LOW my endurance is.

So after arriving home, hubby, Dilana and I went to Borders to find a few books on nutrition - the thought being is that I / we can train as much as we want, but if what is going in isn't supporting the energy that needs to go out, nothin' is going to happen. Being a vegetarian (a poor one, I must admit - but I've survived doing so for over two years now), I am not really sure how to balance proper eating with the new amount of energy I need to focus. We found one that looks great - Nancy Clark's Food Guide For Marathoners. (I also caved and picked up Zen and the Art of Running: The Path To Making Peace With Your Pace by Larry Shapiro. I know the use of Zen is far too trendy, but I'm sadly hooked...and am realizing how much I need to get my mind in shape if I'm going to do 13.1 miles without headphones. I also had Borders Reward Bucks to use!)

The rest of the day was focused on Christmas cards (getting family photo printed out, playing with stamps, embossing, etc.) and researching a Xyron machine.

By the way - anyone have the Xyron Creatopia? I'd love to know your thoughts...I can't justify the money yet but am so intrigued.

Now, my brain is mush. So much creative output, so much mothering, so much thinking about gifts for the kids & where life is going after all of this holiday stuff....

Awaiting possible snow tomorrow, not quite sure how I'm going to get the 3.5 mile run in that is on my training log, fighting the urge to move into hibernation.

Still smilin'.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A Timely Responsibility

"I didn't have time".

That phrase, whether said by me or someone else, always seems to rouse my inner thinker. The note that we each have as much time as did, say, Einstein, definitely holds true. Yet how many times do we use that phrase...even in one day?

Sorry, I didn't have time to give you a call. I didn't have time to help with that. I didn't have time to relax today. I didn't have time to get that writing or art project or report done. I didn't have time to ....

I'm not saying that we aren't all supremely busy. Today's lifestyle, especially with its focus on success as measured by output, is a hectic one. Yet as I've mentioned before, how much is reason and how much is excuse?

What if we replaced every instance of "I didn't have time" to "I didn't make time"? Ah, warning flags go up in my head, too. It is an ultimate form of responsibility that even the most virtuous among us might shirk away from.

Yet....just try to think about it for a minute. If we truly took responsibility for every action, every thought, how would you form your time?

When those things occurred that went against our pre-planned schedules or beyond our control (a traffic jam, kids not getting ready, etc.), perhaps, "I couldn't find time today" would be an appropriate response...acknowledging the event yet remaining aware that time is not something we "don't have".

Try for a bit to ponder what your life would look like if you made time for those things you want to do, but frequently claim you don't have time for. What would it take to get the excuses out of the way?

If your time was truly your responsibility, your life was yours to create, to design, what would you decide to make time for...and what to push aside?

Personally, I'm finding that the more I take responsibility for my time the easier it gets to make time for things I previously couldn't find time for. Even laundry, dishes, errands all seem to fit easier into the schedule. I don't know why this is, and I choose not to spend my time questionning too much.

I do know that at the very least the awareness that my time is my own - and indeed, all I have and all my responsibility - makes each and every moment more precious.