Friday, December 31, 2010

My Word for 2011

I didn’t have “a word” for 2010. I was introduced to the idea then, but it just didn’t click. This year, it seems to fit more…but in true Lisa fashion, I didn’t really think about it until now.

The last night of 2010. Nothing like a little pressure.

Honestly, I’d thrown around a couple of words. But in realizing I only have a few hours left, I’ve been searching Thesauruses (Thesauri??), cheating by looking at others’ words, meditating in hopes I’d have an epiphany, and gazing into my crystal ball. (Ok, maybe not the last one. But wouldn’t that be cool??)

I felt the pressure to find the right word. After all, it’s going to carry me through an entire year! What if I picked a word and then on January 2nd I think of a MUCH better one, like some perfect comeback that pops in your head two hours after the argument is over…what a failure I’d be! (*snicker*)

To my lovely sisters in the Tribe, I had offered “Dharma”. It had struck something in me. Seemed broad enough. Pretty unique. But it had only plucked one string…not played a chord.


Of course, the answer was the hat on my head that I’d turned the house upside-down to find. Right here. What has been floating around LifeUnity the past few weeks? What have I said it all begins with? (Quiz time – you get a happy face sticker if you guess correctly)


It all begins with awareness.

There are reasons I want to not use this word.

  1. You’ve already heard it. It feels like giving a big drum roll and then opening the 2-story red velvet curtain to reveal…….canned spam. Eh. 
  2.  It is “my word”. The biggie. The one that is already changing everything. How can that be a word of the year – just one year? What happens when 2012 rolls around? Can I use “awareness-est”
  3. It scares me. Honestly. To commit to this is committing to you (and more importantly, to myself), to LIVE this word. 

And while I can get over the fact that the big moment might have been a let-down (this doesn’t usually happen, promise!), and have faith that I’ll find an equally exciting word on Dec. 31st, 2011, that last reason is a stumper.

Living awareness means being constantly aware – of who I am and how I am consequently acting based off of that awareness. It means knowing my phenomenal self and taking responsibility for that self. 

It means that when I’m fighting with hubby and I’m aware that I’m turning into psycho-wife or that he may just be right (if it happens to be 1 of the 999 times that he is), I have to acknowledge that. Out loud. Yeah. Bet the thought of that scares you too.

Or if I read or see something that no longer harmonizes with my song (for example, business techniques that just feel…dehumanizing), being aware of my discomfort and not charging right along with the crowd. No matter how many thousands of people are dancing to the other music.

There are so many more situations I can think of to use as examples, but I’m getting a bit queasy thinking about them. Right here, right now, I’m shaking it off and moving into awareness.

So there you are. My word – my practice - for 2011: Awareness.

I will continue to blog about how this manifests in my life, how it ties in with Yoga and Buddhism and art and running and parenting and shaving and belly blob. I will probably become more adamant about you becoming more aware as well. (I love you and all, but I selfishly don’t want to constantly bump into a whole bunch of sleepwalkers.)

And we’ll continue our journey together, scratching out the 2010 for the next few weeks on documents as we forget our mindful awareness.

In full awareness and with wishes for many beautiful days ahead,

Namaste and Happy New Year.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Messenger

Last night, I had a chat with an amazing friend.  She is not only completely grounded and inspirational, but she also sees me.  That alone is invaluable.

Among other things, we discussed my ongoing awakening to my animal spirit*, the Hawk.

*Before I lose those who don't get animal spirits or feel it is a bit too whoo-woo, just think of it this way: There is something that keeps showing up in my life and it does so repeatedly and in frequently unexplainable situations.  It is odd enough that I am paying attention.  Sound fair?

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I've done a lot of looking into the meaning of the Hawk and have focused on the "seeing the bigger picture" aspect.

During our conversation, my brilliant friend focused on the fact that the Hawk is a "messenger".  That perhaps this is to what I am supposed to listen: I am to be a messenger.  I talk frequently about this...feeling that I innately understand "out-there" things, concepts that may be elusive to others.  Concepts that are crucial to awakened, peaceful living.  Concepts that are generally ignored in the plight of mundane living.  I'm also not willing to fly away to a mountain-top (yet) and meditate on these for years.

So perhaps I am to be the messenger here and now, to share that which (I and) others need, to do so in the muck of the real world.

This alone wasn't that new, but the other aspect she brought up - that perhaps I am afraid to do this - was like a punch in the gut.  A pleasant one, if there can be such a thing.

The fear that I don't understand the message well enough to share it.  The fear that I won't share it in an appropriate manner and the message will get lost in translation.  The fear that I'll get too preachy.  The fear that I won't get preachy enough and will just be a soft self-help guru while the true depth of message lies untapped and unheard.

I am continuing to be with this, knowing this is where today, tomorrow (and 2011, if I want to think in those terms) is taking me.  I know that those of you who read this need what I have to say in some form or fashion (be it about my personal story or other), and that i need to hear you just as much.

I am hurrying this post as life scurrys on around me - hubby & kids are ready to leave.  Time (and to-do's) march on.

But moving into who I am, I knew I had to share this message first.

(Please share: Is there anything you've heard recently - with ears or otherwise - that is calling you to listen??)


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Plans, Procrastination, Problems, and Inner Peace

The short version:

Plans for New Year's Eve fell through.  In my thoroughly chaotic mind, this connected to business-related success-driven actions and my recent aversion to all-things-"success-based" and caused a thorough review of my motivations and inner peace. (Yep, welcome to my world.)

I learned a lesson, am feeling more satisfied, but still have no plans for New Year's Eve.

The longer version:

We had plans to stay in a condo with family on New Years Eve.  Because of our procrastination (another lesson: don't make plans based on reservations that haven't been made), they filled up.  We are now left with the choice to go nutty (call all around to find a hotel with availability and hopefully a suite so the kids can sleep while adults stay up, find a place to board the dog, potentially spend way more than we were planning - all in the name of "doing something" on New Years) or staying at home for a quiet celebration.

I will admit - I'm bummed.  I tend to get easily disappointed when anything I'm looking forward to falls through.  The situation didn't even have to be an actual plan.  If the seed was planted in my head and then it didn't happen, it's just as disappointing as if an actual event fell through.

It's the same with the mini-marathon in 2011 (which I may not be able to run do to a possible surgery - more on that later) and a fancy new website.  I can deeply envision success with both.  I have my positive visions of crossing the finish line; of clicking on and visiting a site that makes me smile.

It is so hard to accept what is.  I stumble after what could be.  We all do.  The drive for success is completely based on what could be.

Now don't get me wrong.  I don't think this drive is bad per se.  It keeps us moving instead of laying in bed all day and wasting away.  To live, to experience new things, we must know and embrace change.  And why not dream about, have some sort of conscious part in that flow of change?

The danger comes because in clamoring after success or the race or the party, the "what could be" becomes "good" and the "what is" becomes bad - that which we are trying to move away from.

The more I focused on what could be, the more I didn't want what is.

And therein lies the problem.

Actions become motivated by aversion.  There is a big difference between acting (thinking, dreaming) while in acceptance of our current circumstances and acting to avoid those circumstances.  Change happens either way, but our inner peace differs dramatically.  2011 is going to arrive whether I'm ready for it or not.  Whether the midnight switch (and, depending on whether my lesson is learned, each moment after that) involves peace is up to me.

What is is all we have.  If we can't appreciate that, we certainly won't appreciate what was or what will be.  On Friday night, I will probably be at home with sleeping kiddos, clinking glasses with hubby at midnight as we watch the ball light up on t.v.  If I just observe that, I feel quite fortunate to be in that position. 

But just in case: if anyone in southern Indiana knows of any good (family-friendly but adult-interesting) New Year's parties, you can still let me know...

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


This holiday season, more than any other, I appreciate the meaning of "busy".

In the past 9 days I have driven over 1100 miles.  (And yet, I have not gone outside a 180 mile radius of our home.) In one day alone, the kids and I drove over 8 hours...starting and ending at our house.  I've attended 6 parties and spent the night at our own house less than half of those nights.

In the midst of all of it, I kept saying yes to each new opportunity.  I was exhausted.  The kids' bedtime became non-existent.  I drove on snow-covered roads where lanes were invisible and drivers just staggered themselves appropriately.  I all but disappeared from my blog, FB, and Twitter, the clutter in the house kept growing as we'd run in, re-pack, and head back out, and I'm pretty sure I missed an appointment or two in there.  (Sorry again, Kathy!)  

And I would do it all again.

The only difference?  I would remember my self in all of it.

We all tend to get busy -- whether it is a project at work, family schedules, an art project with a deadline (*ahem* - Sketchbook Project....), classes...  In fact, many people seem to thrive on it.  Yet most people, like myself from this past week, just wind up feeling exhausted and cranky.  (Yep - cranky momma.  Not a pretty site.)

What sticks out to me is two main points:
What exactly you are busy doing or being and Where You are in all of it.

I was fortunate to be busy connecting with others.  Seeing friends and family, sharing stories and drinks, travelling with well-behaved children and singing Christmas songs (over and over and over and over and...).

At the end of it, though, I just feel wiped.  In the interest of maintaining the "busy schedule", I let go of healthy eating.  I let go of my yoga practice.  I let go of connecting with all of you - even if just for a short "hello".  I let myself go.

So even though I was busy and happy, I was slowly draining myself of energy.  If I would have kept this up, I would have unconsciously started relying on others for energy (using emotional tactics to draw anger or sympathy, physically relying on others to do things I could have done myself, etc.).  If I had to guess, you know someone like this - or have been there yourself.  (We all have.)

As the days continue - holiday season, new year resolutions, exciting upcomings or not, I invite you to pay attention to your "busi-ness".  When and where and why are you busy?  Are you really there when you feel busy?  How do you feel when you are done?

As for me, I plan to hide some of this holiday chocolate and continue with the laundry.  I'll find the kids somewhere in their pile of toys and pull them out for lunch.  I'll continue to reflect on 2010 and dream of 2011.

But busy or not, I'll keep re-membering myself.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Still Here

Yes, I'm still here.

Amidst unexpected travels, nights away from home, unplowed roads, blessed times with friends and family, coughs and colds, family history - and stories - bubbling up from ancestorial depths, wine, far too much food, and repeated nights of no sleep until after 2 a.m. ....

I'm still here.

I have regrets that I haven't been able to share with you all that has occurred, to pass along some fascinating wisdom that will begin to germinate on this Winter solstice and grow into....well, an even more fascinating 2011.

I hope to return with more regular blog posts next week.

Until then, may you each enjoy blessings among the chaos.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

An Early Morning Reminder

Sometimes, we are asked to slow down.

This morning, I woke at 6 a.m.  It was, of course, a morning where I could have slept in.  School had been cancelled due to the snow and hubby was home until the afternoon anyway to help with rousing children.

My body had other ideas.

Instead of lying in bed trying to squeeze my shut eyes into submission, I gently shuffled into the kitchen and prepared some warm chamomile tea.  I then moved into the living room and turned off any lights behind me.  I sat in front of our large window, letting the tea warm me from the inside, and watched a quiet storybook before me.

The snow was still blue from the dark morning sky.  A substantial overnight storm had erased any traces of previous attempts to clear the ground, creating a glistening sheet that left no hints as to where the road might be.

The whir from the laptop fan started to enter my consciousness (a grating noise that before, I suppose, I'd learned to ignore).  I shut  it off and returned to the hug of silence.

And it was that that most held my awareness.  The silence.  Even the trees seemed to hold themselves in statuesque positions.  No movement.  In other scenarios, it might have been eerie.  Here, in that moment, I was deeply comforted by three words that popped into my head:

Death.  No breath.

Leaves were gone, all signs of emerging life blanketed under this light blue pile of glitter.  Everything held still.  No wind.  No breath.  And it was so absolutely beautiful.  It was as it should be.

With no breath, no cycle of in and out,
no seasons, no clearing out with the exhale and the winter,
no renewing with the inhale and spring,
life would cease.

I wonder - how close do we wander to death each day as we stifle our own breath...our physical breath as we limit deep breathing, rush through days...and our spirit's breath as we lay down in submission to "shoulds" and expectations.

I flirt with the thoughts of death that enter my head - not in a macabre way, but with the silent, still, pristine form that death brings to a vibrant life.  The transition that occurs.  The last exhale of this body so that we may inhale into a new space.

This morning, as my tea dwindled, I admit to returning to bed.  When I re-awoke, the snow plow had bustled up the blanket that had captivated me and the world was again panting all around.  But that beautiful moment of silence, that slow melting into breath and death through my living room window, has stayed with me.

For parents, for workers with bustling jobs, for anyone whose mind is not as still as the trees with no wind, I wish you even one morning where you too can experience this bliss.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Follow my Guest Post!

I'll share my story with you today....just not here.

I'm honored to be guest posting today over at Dirty Footprints Studio.

Go HERE to check it out!!


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Life Lessons From a Silly Band

First, I want to thank you all for the beautiful comments yesterday.  Knowing a post that I wrote from an authentic place spoke to so many is comforting and encouraging.


I continue to be tickled by the ways this emerging awareness manifests in my life.

Yesterday we were sitting down to dinner with our kids.  Our daughter had a frustrated look on her face, so I asked what was wrong.

Holding up her silly band* with both hands, she cried, "It won't go back!!".  (*For those non-parents, silly bands are a fun fad right now of flexible bracelets that have an original shape and will return to this shape once removed from the arm.)

I smiled and suggested she just let go.

Sure enough, when she stopped pulling at it and set it on the counter, it popped back to its kitty-like shape.

Not to be easily consoled though, she then furrowed her brow and said, "But it won't make a star!".


I won't go into our parenting techniques from this point forward.  Here's what I think is cool about this experience, though:

1)  Practicing awareness in yoga, when writing, when mediating, when breathing, when....leads to increasing awareness when I'm not intending to practice.  It would have been easy to suggest she eat instead of play and miss and very beautiful moment for us both.  Instead, I got a nifty blog post out of it.  (Ok, ok...the point being that the benefits of practicing go beyond the practice itself.)

2)  Let go.  Stop pulling at life to try to find what you want.  It really is right here if you'll just let what is, be.

3)  You can't make a kitty into a star.  (Imagination games excluded here.)  Why whine about what isn't?  Either go buy the star or appreciate the kitty.  Change the situation and/or appreciate what you have.


Monday, December 13, 2010

A Quiet Decision (Moving In)

My dear blog friends,

As I explained to my dear hubby this morning, a week away from a blog is like a month away from work.  An unexplained (of sorts) absence.  For this, I apologize.  Allow me to share what I can as to what has been going on behind the scenes.

This is how I see my social studio:

BLOG:   The main area of the studio - the lobby and many adjoining rooms.  A very open, airy space that smells of dried lavendar and chamomile.  Art painted by friends who have visited adorns the walls (sometimes painted directly on the walls).  White poofy chairs and couches, reclaimed wood tables, shelves full of books, and some display racks waiting to be filled with my art-for-sale surround the room.

I sit behind the "About Me" desk (yeah, I gotta get that written) and mull around adding more and more to the studios.  I throw yoga mats here and there, leave small wisdom notes tucked in plants for you to find, use the powder blue chalk to leave a joke on the tiny chalkboard plaque hanging by the window.  You explore, learn, and grow in awareness.  (And hopefully, you chat with me via comments as you have time.  Otherwise it gets kinda lonely sitting there.)

It is here that I greet you, that you get an impression of what "LifeUnity" is all about.  You can explore the classrooms of my ideas, stay awhile and take a class (meaning - for now - just pick up some information based off what I share - actual classes will probably be down the road).

FACEBOOK:   The cafe off to the left side of the lobby.  It is here that everyone sits down on unbelievably-comfortable-but-posture-supporting chairs & couches & floor pillows, shares a chai (I suppose you can still come if you don't like chai, but be prepared to be converted), and discusses.  It is where we share our stories back and forth.  We settle into comfy chairs or just stop in for a quick "hi!", toss out some random ideas, and laugh.  (Many times these conversations carry over into the blog as we move back and forth, but the smell of the fresh-baked croissants in the cafe certainly adds something to the ambiance.)

(Join us in the cafe here)

TWITTER: The display window.  There isn't much room but these windows can be chock full of colorful goodies.  (You'll find me hanging out at the front door sometimes too, so when you're at the window we may share a little chat!)

(See what's currently on display here)

NEWSLETTER:  This is the beautiful studio up the well-worn wood stairs that you can access once you sign up (in my studio, I envision a little clipboard with a pink glitter pen.  Virtually, you can just sign up here.)  It is the area that contains information not accessible to others just browsing around.  I'm still working around with what I'm carrying up those stairs, so we both get to enjoy the discoveries.

I'm on Flickr and SmugMug and Vimeo and YouTube and LinkedIn and all those...but I don't venture in those rooms often.  Someday I may move the boxes of stuff stored there into a main-floor studio room.  Or I may hire movers. Who knows.

So what does this have to do with my absence?

Before this, I was more interested in getting the rooms set up.  Creating an environment for you and for me, making sure to display items appropriately, pushing couches here and there, trying to get the "right" items in the display window.  I received a lot of positive feedback (thank you!) and encouragement to keep going.

But each day, I would leave my social studio.  I would go home to a house where I didn't practice yoga, I wasn't the same balanced me that wondered in the cafe, and where I all too often let paints sit unused instead of splashing it on the walls.  And I was getting tired.

I would return to the studio with less and less inspiration to paint, fewer ideas for conversation, total blocks as to what to include in my studios.  And absolutely no jokes.  I was running myself dry.

The past few weeks I have been here and there at the social studio, but have spent more time just meditating in my small corner altar.  What has it led to?

A quiet decision.

I am moving in.  I am moving into my social studio.  I am moving into myself.  I am moving into right here, right now.

There is nowhere else to go, no one else I want to be.  To help me re-member this, I'm going to stop trying to go somewhere else and be someone else.

Words sound trite which is a huge reason I haven't blogged recently.  Trying to find -or perhaps worse, create - words to communicate where I am right now is like giving you a bouquet of roses that are made of rolled up papers describing the roses.  You may be able to picture it but there isn't really a way to experience the essence of it without giving you the actual rose.  And unfortunately, I can't do that.  The rose can only be found in Practice.

But keeping the rose to myself is fairly selfish.  So I will do the best I can to continue to share...even if it is just  origami.

For now, this means moving in.  Expanding myself enough that I incorporate both the social studio and my home into one being.  Opening enough that I never leave.  Making my practice such that my conversations with my hubby, my mother, the barista, my son's teacher, and each of you radiate from my true self...that I don't yell and stomp out of my house only to float into the lobby of LifeUnity with a blissful smile on my face.

Words words words.

I have noticed many changes occurring in many of you with whom I am connected.  Job changes or departures, new titles, losses and gains, love and deep anger.  It is an uneasiness that I think all of us are feeling.

I have no advice.  I can only share where I am and open my studio to you, to allow you to explore, stay as long as you wish, but eventually walk out the door and into your own practice.

I do hope that each of us stops trying to move so much.  Moving out of uncomfortable situations, rearranging things to get more visitors, being store owners in our social studios and humans at home.

Until then, I will continue settling in.  Please, share some chai with me.  Find some inspiration (a breath) around the studio.  Leave a comment for me or for another visitor to discover - keep the conversation flowing.

I will be here - more than I have been before.

I extend to you right now an open invitation to do the same. 


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Reality Check

At 9 a.m., I was given a Reality check.

This morning my husband ran a few tests on us as part of a health initiative his company is doing.  (He's a pharmacist so he just brought the tests home - which is a huge bonus when the temp is under 20 degrees F.)  Basically, if we meet certain standards we get money in a health savings account.  Nice, eh?

After 12 hours of fasting and an odd early morning craving for my iced chai, we began.  My tests were flying along - excellent cholesterol (yay for vegetarian diet!), great blood pressure, blood sugar fine, weight normal, BMI ok....then....boom.

Reality. (Yeah, don't look too closely.  I took this picture without the scale on.)

The body fat percentage.  I won't list my exact numbers, but I am "Over Fat".  AAAAAUUUGGGHH!  (I was blessed with good genes - I'm 5' 8.5" which means that weight/fat usually just spreads out.  But because of that, I am deceived into believing it is not there.  I guess tighter jeans should have been a clue.)

And yes, I am sharing this slightly embarrassing fact with you.  Why?  Because it is part of my story.  Because being honest hopefully encourages you to do the same.

I'm really not that distressed over it - just awakened.  I am not going to try to lose weight.  Let me repeat:  This is NOT about the weight.

I am, however, going to get that fat percentage number down.  I consider it a challenge.  I am well aware that all of these standards are fairly arbitrary; that overall I am quite healthy.

However, how I do one thing is how I do all things.  How I deal with this one small obstacle to total physical health is how I will deal with one small obstacle on my path to peace.  This is just an objective measure of something that I've known - my health is sliding.  In paying attention to my mind I have forgotten my body.  And yet, without my body, my mind too will disappear.

I want to ensure that anyone who reads this does not take this to mean "over fat" or any form of low or high weight is a "bad thing".  It will have consequences, to be sure, but people whose weight fall in the "normal" range also have health causes and effects.  It is part of the blessing of having a experience what having a body means.

I enjoy being aware.  I can now make conscious decisions based off a more true-picture of myself.  I can see that fat that is hiding in there.  It is the same reason I do yoga, art, meditation -- to understand a more complete picture of myself and the world around me.  To be aware.

"Wherever we are we are our true person" 
-Master Linji/Thich Nhat Hanh

Via a body-fat scale, meditation, paint, yoga, deep reflection, and whatever methods I can, I choose to constantly remind myself of that person so that I may radiate that being.

I'm going to make the whole process as peaceful as possible.  That means I'm not "dieting" per se but going to be much more mindful of my food.  I'm not greatly altering my workout schedule but I am going to pursue more active living.  And one thing you can be sure of?

I'm not giving up my iced chai.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Nothing To Do, Nowhere To Go.

I have nothing to do.
I have nowhere to go.
And I am waking up to who I am.

(a variation on the title of a book I am reading by Thich Nhat Hanh.)

I am still here, missing several days of blogging, hundreds of Facebook updates, and thousands of Tweets.  I am not shunning the online world by any means - I have met the most fascinating people here and have no intentions of letting these relationships go.

I am, however, resolving to dance with this state of being as long as it takes to embody the dance.  That means not walking off of the dance floor to take care of that which previously seduced me.  I will learn these moves until my muscles embody every turn and twist, until my face memorizes the feel of the breeze that blows past.

I don't know what this means in the outside world.  I don't yet know this dance and where it will whirl me to.

I will dance with the dishes, dance with the bills, dance with the painful memories that are surfacing.  Dance with my anger, dance with the decisions.

The computer that sits just off of the dance floor blinking with unread messages?  The financial security that whistles softly from beneath the bleachers that can be mine if only I focus on Business instead of this "pointless" dance? The Sale signs that tempt me just out the door, leading to hundreds of bargains?  Those fears that keep sneaking on the dance floor, laughing like a bullying high school girl, trying to trip me up?

I have nowhere else to go but here.  
I have nothing else to do but this dance. 
I resolve to live nothing else other than what is.

Lest I leave you with just some random peak into my reality, I challenge you:  DANCE.

Tell me, you wise being (for indeed you are), what does your dance look like right now?  Jazzy?  Slow-dancing to soft music?  Do you enjoy your dance partner?  Are you afraid? Guilty? Tired?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Rising Above Myself

Do you ever have those dreams from which you just can't wake up?

I'm having one of those this morning.  I am walking around in a true fog.  Part of me still remains in that dream.  It is one from which I am choosing not to depart - one that I know has things to teach me.

I do not want to divert my thinking from that place lest it disappears forever.  So I will share with you this morning something I shared with the Tribe last night (the amazing group of women who have been through the BIG process), part of portrait work.

This is the art:
(Brighter here than in person.  Some day I'll learn how to make the two match.)

This is the poem:

The time has come
to break all my promises
tear apart all chains
and cast away all advice

Disassemble the heavens
link by link
and break at once
all lovers' ties
with the sword of death

Put cotton inside
both my ears
and close them to
all words of wisdom

Crash the door and
enter the chamber
where all sweet
things are hidden

How long can I
beg and bargain
for the things of this world
while love is waiting

How long before
I can rise beyond
how I am and
what I am


How more perfectly could I state my being?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


The deeper the self-realization
of a man, the more he influences
the whole universe by his subtle
spiritual vibrations.

~Paramhansa Yogananda
Autobiography of a Yogi

I do not wish to do; I wish to be.  I do not wish to instruct, I wish to radiate.  It is only be teaching myself first, by offering and accepting myself what I wish to give, that I may have any hope of truly connecting with any other being.

(For those concerned, please know I realize the pronoun in this quote.  Take it as he/his.  Take it as she/hers.  Take it as You/your.  Ultimately, words are vehicles for the message - do not be concerned about make of the car; be concerned whether it can take you to your destination.  Even then, train yourself to be grateful for the car but not reliant upon it - we should be strong enough to walk.)

Monday, November 29, 2010

Our Weekend

I truly hope everyone had a beautiful weekend, whatever and with whomever you celebrated.

My brother, hubby and I did end up running the 4.5 mile Drumstick Dash on Thanksgiving morning.  It was raining, but around 50 degrees really not too bad!  And though my time was nearly 15 seconds / mile slower than last year (and I'm slightly peeved about that), how can I complain when a race ends with free food, free Starbucks, and is followed by an afternoon of family togetherness?

Truly a blessed Thanksgiving.

(I don't have the camera with which photos were taken, so those will get posted later.)

Friday night we went to the town square for the lighting ceremony.  We toured local shops, indulged in hot chocolate, heard glorious music, and counted down with Santa to illuminate the town.  (Bloomington definitely has the most beautiful courthouse/square area of any town I've seen.)
Inside the courthouse

On Saturday, family joined us for our new tradition - choosing our own Christmas Tree at Twin H Farms.  It is an exciting day...driving around, walking through so many trees looking for the one.

And food (popcorn) and cider and hot chocolate waiting for us at the end.   Mmmm.
 On the hunt for the perfect tree 

 My niece - isn't she just adorable?!

 My brother tying their tree onto his car

Our boy enjoying his hot chocolate.  Yum.

Amidst all of this, you might have noticed the posts getting a bit "deeper" and a bit less frequent.  I am honoring the change that life is taking me into right now....part of that means more time in private journals, less time online.  (Most likely temporary)

Ah, but for now...I am off to a dentist appointment.  That is enough for me to ponder.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Black Friday

It is 9:22 a.m.

I am doing everything I can to keep myself away from ads, promotions, deals, and even friends & family who are pushing to shop today.  (My mom is talking with my kids in the background about what they want for Christmas.  *sigh*)

It isn't that I think buying is bad...heck, it supports our economy.  I could even shop small businesses today and help friends & strangers who are doing exactly what I want to do - make a living through passion.

But today - Black Friday - there is a pervasive energy of grasping.  Clinging.  Wanting.  More.  Different.  New.  I am horribly sensitive to this energy.

I love going to the hobby store or book store and - maybe twice a year - the clothing stores.  I like local, small stores and big chains...all offering things that make my life comfortable and beautiful.  Allow me to repeat - I don't think buying is bad.  But mindless shopping?  Out of control desire?  The justification that appears to buy something when I didn't even know I needed or wanted it before?  THAT tears me apart.

As I type this, I hold a printed out coupon to Borders in my lap.  Part of me says, "it's a book!  Buy a book on how to avoid clinging, a Buddhist book or book on the Yoga Sutras....".  Yeah.  Note the irony.

I want to post something today about the 4.5 mile race yesterday.  About the chaos that was a beautiful Thanksgiving.  About how I'm looking forward to our outing where we get hot chocolate and dance around a farm of trees to pick the one that will sacrifice itself to be the shining center of our home for the next month.

But I look down at the Borders coupon.  In it, I see a mirror reflecting my true self.  And I am reminded once again.

Black Friday: The yearly reminder of how far I must go to overcome grasping.  

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Contemplate THIS.

I've been deep in contemplation this last week or so.  I don't know if it is the colder weather that has driven my body (and my mind) inside or just another turn of the cycle.  It is bringing a blissful awareness to my days, my steps.  It also means, however, that some "action steps" are being re-evaluated...and thus, on hold.

I then get stressed.  I want to keep thinking, being - but my habitual way of existence is to move, be productive, do more more more.  Guilt arises, I let it go.  And so the wheel turns.  

Instead of bringing you in to this chaotic carnival that is my mind, 
I thought I'd have some fun with portraying 
the juxtaposition (ooh, big word!) in a different way.

This is how I enjoy living my life....contemplate and then laugh at it all.  Repeat.

Something like this.

(*All jokes from  All images copyright Lisa Wilson)

Sometimes life seems like a dream, especially when I look down and see that I forgot to put on my pants.

If you're a cowboy and you're dragging a guy behind your horse, I bet it would really make you mad if you looked back and the guy was reading a magazine.

Children need encouragement. If a kid gets an answer right, tell him it was a lucky guess. That way he develops a good, lucky feeling.

If we could just get everyone to close their eyes and visualize world peace for an hour, imagine how serene and quiet it would be until the looting started.

If you ever reach total enlightenment while you're drinking a beer, I bet it makes beer shoot out your nose.

As we move into holiday times where it can be tempting to move, move, move, try to spend a bit of time just contemplating.  And remember....

If you ever drop your keys into a river of molten lava, let 'em go, because man, they're gone.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Thought Control

My weekend.  In 3 scenes.

Scene 1.  Ice cream store with the kiddos.  My intention was just to surprise them - I'm not hungry nor do I need the calories (we're ordering pizza that night for heavens sake).  I've ordered their orange sherbet and blackberry cups and borrowed Windex to clean up my drool from the glass separating me from the chocolate-chip cookie dough.  The clerk asks, "anything more"?

Scene 2.  Big fight with hubby right before bed.  A book on Buddhist wisdom (including compassion) lays on my lap.  He just turned off his light and thrown the covers over himself.  I'm doing everything I can to control my breath, think positive thoughts....but I'm still fuming.  The perfect words for a scathing response just came to mind.

Scene 3.  Last big run before the race on Thanksgiving.  Beautiful temps, level ground, but wind straight out of Oz.  (Ya know, that carried Dorothy off to the yellow brick road?)  No one will know (or care) if I cut my run short.  I've already stopped to walk a few times and thus blown my whole time goal.  A perfect turn-around spot (far short of the 4 miles I set out to run) is right ahead.

Whatever response(s) I choose will have consequences.  
That is karma in action.  

My fascination is not on the "right" or "wrong" choice, but how in control (or on auto-pilot) I feel in each situation.  

Those big decisions - like whether to start a new job or quit your current one, which diet to choose, which house to live in, how many kids (if any) to have - are of course important.

But decisions for each of those stem from the same thought process used to decide whether to order ice cream, yell at hubby, and run 4 miles.  Every single decision has consequences.

How aware I am of those consequences and the thought / action processes that creates them 
determines how much say I have in how my life unfolds.

We can always fight the wind, 
wearing ourselves out needlessly by feigning power,
allow the wind to carry us 
as we bump into tree after tree lamenting how unfair life is, 

or stick out our wings and fly with this power that is life.

The wind will still blow regardless of our choice.

(By the way, I did run 4 miles.  I didn't order any ice cream.  And I didn't share my retort with hubby. But I did have a few bites of my daughter's blackberry cup.  And I do have some zingers up my sleeve for the next argument.  Yeah, sometimes even I punch into the wind.)


Friday, November 19, 2010

My Coloring Book

The alarm.

Damn alarm.

I wake and roll and stretch
and before me
is the page I am to color that day.

my lines of thought - clearly drawn in a daunting black ink -
creating fascinating dancing unicorns
or ugly piles of crap
or ongoing lists of things to do
or creative swirly-ma-thing-a-jigs.

And some days
I kiss the lines with red wax
following every curve
staying delicately
within the lines

Other days
Blues and violets and oranges and pinks become a
soupy rainbow
and line becomes color becomes line

But the best days?

The ones in which
I begin
with a blank page

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

On Sale: Todo's!

Do you ever watch HGTV?  (I think it was on that channel).

There was (is?) a show about people who had horrendously cluttered homes.  A team came in, held a garage sale of all of their stuff, and designed a new room to show them how nice it was to live in a clutter-free space. (Yeah, I know....if I had a team to help me it would be a lot easier to get this mess cleaned up.)

As part of this, the owners had to take all of their schtuff out to the front lawn and sort it into piles on tarps: Keep, Sell, or Trash.  Needless to say they needed some prodding so that everything didn't end up on the keep pile.  After some tears and some interesting fights-for-television, the owners then sold their previously prized-possessions for moola for decorating their new room.

I used to love shows like this.  As t.v. time has faded more and more, these shows are the first to go.

And, as you may have picked up on, I've been sick the past few days.  Being physically sick necessitates a lot of sitting.  A lot of slowing down.

I am proud to say, however, that I have not turned on HGTV once during my tissue-surrounded down-time.

In my case, slowing down means not as many activities but just as much (if not more) thinking.  And those impressions created by the shows on HGTV stick with me.

It is as if I'm being required to move all of my mental crap out of my house and onto the front lawn.  As my health returns, I have to decide which activities on my to-do list (big and small....ain't nothing being left in the closet...) I want to keep, which I want to sell off to someone else, and which should have been thrown out years ago.

In truth, I have this opportunity every day - to decide what stays, what goes.  So do you.  But we get so caught up in the next thing "to-do", that next phone call or email or thing that really needs to be done that we don't consciously make time to decide.  We let our habitual responses make our decisions for us.  And the clutter piles up until we can't even enter our own minds without TODO stuff falling on us from shelf above.

Last night I set out with the intention to paint something light blue and brown, something frilly.  I was just in that mood.  But as the paints started blending on the page, I was taken in a new direction.  I let it happen.  And here is what came of it:

(I knew that toothpaste tube cap would come in handy...note the circles on the outside!)

As I make the decisions of what activities to ease back into, I feel trapped in some senses.  Not by anyone else, but by my own sense of obligation.  I am not afraid of moving forward. I am afraid of not moving.  And that keeps me doing things out of a sense of "should".  Trying to release myself from that and yet not get stuck in a holding pattern with a confused look on my face is the challenge I face right now.

I've had nearly 3 days to contemplate all of this.  There's a lot to it.  I'm sure much of it will come out through this blog and in the upcoming newsletter.

But it isn't all about me.  

I share this with you because regardless of what health you may be in right now, I guarantee you've got some crap piled up in your closet.  You have some chains that have that door padlocked.

I figure I've got so much of my stuff out on the lawn right now that I'd offer a bit of space for you as well.  Feel free to drop off some of your todo's.  Trust me, you don't need them.

We'll throw them in the garage sale.  Grab a glass of lemonade while you are here, and let's smile together as that which is no longer serving us moves on to one who actually needs it.

And one of these days, maybe we'll tackle all of that crap in the garage.

One day at a time.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Awareness Painting

That painting I gave you a sneak peak of before?  Here's the final version.

(Acrylics & mixed-media on canvas board)

No deep thoughts today...I'm indulging in human frailty and overcoming a sore throat and fatigue.  No worries...I feel blessed to be able to stay at home and take care of it!

May you indulge in awareness today.
(Hopefully while in good health) 

Monday, November 15, 2010

Adornment Photos

In my last newsletter I had discussed the idea of adornment and challenged subscribers to find one thing they could choose that day to adorn themselves - something that made them feel alive.  I was so pleased with the result (and hope the participants were as well!) - and even received a few photos from some awesomely adorned lovelies!

With their permission, I'll share them here:

Tracy and her fabulous feet (I so want a pair of those toe socks!):

Andrea donned her gorgeous pearls (doesn't she look stunning with her blue hair & pearls?!)

Thanks Tracy & Andrea for the awesome photos & your adornments - you two inspire me!...and thanks to all those who emailed me how they participated!

Inspired?  Wanna try your own - just for today?  Share your "one thing" with which you will adorn yourself today that will make you feel alive.

(Mine?  A new soap scent...sandalwood.  I need something that will stick with me throughout the day as I'm feeling a bit of the ickies coming on...oh no!)

I may be back later today with more, but for share what adorns you!

And don't forget to sign up for The Fine don't want to miss out on all of the future fun!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Losing It

The blue screen of death.

It is something you never want to see on a computer monitor.  And yet, last night, there she was.  Icily staring back at me from the laptop screen.

The kids had been innocently playing on  I was reading in the other room when I started hearing funny noises (from the computer, not the kids).  I went in and saw, "Physical Memory Dump Beginning, 10%, 20%, 30%...Physical Memory Dump Completed."

You can only imagine the funny noises that started emerging from my mouth.

I put the kids to bed (it was bed time, not punishment) as visions of countless hours of repair danced through my head.  Phone calls, emails, ....what had I lost?  Oh my goodness - that file that was open!  I forgot to save it!

And so on.

When I went in to kiss my son goodnight, he asked me to lay with him.  I kept thinking of the screen and whether I should attempt to press F9 or F11 and if praying might appease the laptop gods or maybe I should off a sacrifical DVD......when my son took my ear.  (That's his thing.)

And I was that ear and nothing else.

I felt the soft bristles of his close-cut hair on my cheek and heard his sniffly breathing as he tried to sneak his thumb into his mouth.  I let myself just sink into his well-worn mattress.

How deceptively easy this is to do.  How hard it seems, no matter how much we intellectually crave it, to be with the fleeting beauty of the now.

Even now, I wonder if you are reading this with a thought train chugging in the background, "so what happened to the laptop?  were the computer gods satisfied with the sacrifice?".

I almost lost so much that was irretrievable last night.  It came without warning and would have passed without alarms.  Yet, years from now, when I started wanting would be gone forever.

Time dump completed.

I'm sure you will be relieved to know - last night, I was able to save everything I needed.

(p.s. ok, so while I want to leave on such a beautiful note, I know I'll get a few emails asking about the laptop.  'cause I have caring friends like that.  I love that about you.  

The laptop was recovered.  And the kids will not be using it again.)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Choose Your Own Experience

I had it this morning.  One of those ah-hah moments in which I can literally hear the light being clicked on.

A question that's been asked by others and probably by myself at some point.  Probably somewhere in this blog.  (I have the type of memory where I've not only forgotten where I've put my keys; I've forgotten where I put the car.) I will ask myself again and again and I challenge you to ask as well:

How do I want to experience life?

All of these things I keep promoting - to myself and to you - don't mean diddly squat if you don't care about your experience of life.  The right-here, right-now experience.

Yoga can awaken your body and mind and bring delicious harmony with your movements & thoughts.

Down Dog.

Creative exploration gets the soulful juices flowing.  Paints and water-soluble pencils should come with a label:  WARNING: May cause deep realizations, harmony with life, and, in rare cases, ability to hear angels sing.

More of this one later...

Running, reading, chatting, chai....they all provide the potential for mind-blowing experiences.

But if you don't care about your experience 
of this thing called "living", 
there really isn't any point in practicing them.  

In my reality, we are here to experience life.

To let the divine play in human form.  To dip our fingers in mooshy paint (the non-toxic kinds), dip our toes in the tepid ocean water, and dip our tongues in gooey melted chocolate.

To have a mindful awareness as we go through out days that supersedes the beautiful religious practices that occur only in designated buildings.

To explore the touch of a soapy dish and hear the harmony between a child's laugh and the song of the bird.

To feel the gut-punches of pain without succumbing to them and the giddy tummy-tickles of joy without clinging to them.

To live the questions instead of just pondering them over a good conversation then shuffling off to work the next day to make the next dollar.

To play.  To experience.

It is the belief from which I build all of my posts, my newsletter, my workshops (yep, 3/4 way through one!)...It is a belief I hope you hold as well: That our experiences matter.  If you are content with sleepwalking, I wish you well and that there are no walls or staircases in your way...but will let you know our journey probably wasn't meant to travel together.

If, however, you want to delve into the richness and vital juiciness of our moments?  Ah, kindred soul, let's talk....

I have photos to share from some of my lovely newsletter subscribers who played with their experience of adorning themselves...coming tomorrow with some more goodness.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Wisdom of Running, Art, and Yoga

There is so much I have learned since assuming the practices of running, creative exploration,and yoga.  Below are just a few of the shared wisdom tid-bits.

Meditate.  Mental Chatter makes or breaks your experience & success rate.

If I think too much about what I'm doing, I will fail.  It happens over and over.  Positive mental feedback, "you can do this!", and thought-reminders (breathe) are excellent.  But they only go so far.  When I've put successive layers on the painting, when I'm 3/4 of the way up the hill, when I'm nearing Savasana - if I keep thinking about how I don't want to mess it up, how I want to walk, or how I want a grilled cheese sandwich....I'll quit.  Learning to control my thoughts - or at the very least, be aware of them - is crucial to my continued pursuit of any soul-fulfilling endeavors.  Meditation is vital to doing this.

Don't over-think.  If you think of something else to do, you'll do it.

If I wake up in the morning and convince myself that I have too much to do besides running, you better believe I'm not slipping on my shoes and stepping into the cold dark air.  If I have more productive things to do (as if laundry were more productive), the art gets shoved aside.  If I think I need cardio more than yoga (my yoga practice is more awarness-based - not sweat-based), the mat stays rolled up.

I am an intelligent woman who can find just as many excuses as I can reasons.  All of that thinking about whether or not I should or even can do something is still a layer over the deeper passion inside.

Once I commit to something - on the outside and the inside - it isn't a matter of whether or not I should or can do it.  I do it because I can't NOT do it.

Embrace all sources of energy. Empower yourself and acknowledge others. 

I went for a run yesterday morning along a highway then back into a neighborhood.  Half the run I was facing cars and drivers and the awareness that each and every one of them could be thinking something different about me.  For the other half of the run, I was facing birds and mailboxes and a few goats who seemed confused as to why I was running if nothing was chasing me.

There is definitely a different energy, a different feeling, I get when running amidst other people (traffic or in a race) versus running completely on my own.  The same goes if I'm taking a yoga class versus practicing in my living room or painting outdoors at Brown County versus my basement.

Embrace the energy others can provide but learn also to find your own.  Both have their benefits.

It cannot be me against them.  It has to just be me.

Remember all of those people I faced yesterday while running?  My thoughts wavered between, "Well they aren't out running so screw 'em if they think I look odd or am running too slow" and "I'm sure they are jealous that I'm out and they aren't - don't worry lovely drivers, you can do it!".  Eventually, it came down to, "If they are a runner, they get it.  If they aren't, they don't."

We all must run for ourselves.  We must paint for ourselves.  We must find our own pose.  If you are trying to be better than someone else or afraid you are worse, you act based off of the assumption that you are somehow different from "them".  Someone may make different choices than you, but at the base of it all, we are all a hodgepodge of unified, seemingly chaotic diversity.

In other words, we are all one.  Don't fight against yourself.

You can still sign up for The Fine Print!  This week's edition holds stories of non-conformity and glitter...and a challenge.  Indulge in the randomness.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Do. Be. (And Sign Up...)

 I was sitting upstairs yesterday, looking out the window.  To the casual observer (that being my husband. and my son. and my daughter.), I was doing nothing - and therefore, available for playtime and responding to questions.

In my reality, however, I was deep in the midst of exploring my thoughts and a form of meditative breathing.  (Yeah, I could have moved.  I was just too lazy to leave the couch.)

It did make me question, though - how can I explain to them why I'm unavailable?  (Not that I need to.  I've perfected "the look".  But in fairness to them and myself, I decided to reflect on the answer.)

In order of difficulty, from "fairly easy" to "nearly impossible", I find these things a challenge:

     1) To Try
     2) To Do
     3) To Be

In our society, the first two are highly rewarded.  "Try, try again", right?  Ah, and to do....and set a goal and reach it?  Isn't that what we train kids for in school and reward people for in jobs?

I was a total nerd in school.

That's me, on the last day of high school, still concerned about impressing others.

I learned how to do homework and tests and essays juuuust right.  That training got me a scholarship. Then a degree.  And jobs with accolades.  I did what I learned to do - then did more.

But to be??

To know myself well enough that "trying" and "doing" are guided by my being?  It is a challenge I accepted many years ago yet with which I still struggle.  Ironic, as "being" should be the simplest form of existence.

All of us must DO to exist.  "Doing" is not "bad".  We must eat, earn money or some form of shared energy, contribute to society, ...and if we are lucky and have the resources, we Do more - create art, take vacations, go shopping, watch t.v., etc.

But what we have forgotten is that 
all of us must BE 
in order to live.

In order to be, you must be aware of who you are.

Even if it means staring out the window every now and then.


DON'T FORGET: Sign up for The Fine Print (because you WANT to).  As a bonus, if you sign up by this Sunday, November 7th, you will also be entered to win a signed copy of Chris Guillebeau's new book, The Art of Non-Conformity.

Sign Up HERE

Also: I am going to be a contributor for Mindy's new class, THIS Moment!  Mindy runs the fabulous site, WishStudio, with oodles of great guests & regular contributors.  I am honored to be contributing to her class.

You can still get the early-bird discount if you sign up for her class today!  (Class begins November 15th)  Learn more and register HERE (


Go. Do. Be.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Why So Serious?

A lovely had shared this video on Twitter yesterday.  A new video by Pink, the song "Raise Your Glass" is nothing if not provocative.

And that, among other reasons, is why I love it.  I cannot get it out of my head.

It makes you think or shows you where you choose not to.

Watch it and let me know what gets you going.

And baby, why so serious?! *wink*